Is it important to perform self defence techniques perfectly?
At British Krav Maga Leeds, I teach a mix of students, all ages, genders and sizes and shapes. Everyone is different and everyone has a different focus, when training. Some of my students want to go slowly and perfect the movements, some want to destroy their attackers with power, some are very quick and agile and some are frantic and just want to defend themselves and escape the danger. All of my students have one thing in common however, and that is that I drill into them concepts rather than perfect technique. Of course I want my guys to have good technique, but without good concepts backing this up they may as well go to a Boxing based fitness class.
My students begin by learning Basic movement, striking and blocks and we back that up with solid concepts and stress drills to internalise it. As students progress I expect their techniques to be more polished and refined. You see, when attacked you will be under immense stress and perfect technique will go out of the window, however if you have practised and drilled the basic concepts and have a mastery of the basics under stress then you will revert to these under stress also. It is the concepts and drills, not perfect technique execution which saves lives (several of my students have been attacked and utilised the concepts to protect themselves with a sprinkling of technique on top).
Here are a few of the concepts I drill into my students:
HANDS!!!! : I wrote it like that because that’s how I scream it in my Krav Maga Leeds Classes. Keep your hands up. Your hands protect your head, if you are hit in the head then at best you are momentarily stunned and vulnerable, at worst you are knocked out or killed. What good is perfect execution of A Jab, Cross, Hook, Knee combination if your hands are dropping and risking being knocked out or worse.
Stance: We must stand in a way that allows us to move, generate power, stay sturdy and balanced and run if necessary. Deviating from stance is risky from many perspectives. You may be able to throw the perfect fight ending groin kick, but what good is it if you can’t keep your balance afterwards? If you can’t move well you can’t fight well.
If you have distance, keep it: If your attacker is out of reach and you are out of theirs, stay there or run (if possible). Having great fighting skills is good of course but if you engage them first then you are definitely fighting, and you can’t predict how that will go. Do they have a knife? Are they a trained fighter? Do they have friends around? Are you on CCTV (If you engage you have to be sure that you are justified in doing so or you are the aggressor)? De-escalate the situation verbally with your hands up and back away. Let them engage you. Pre-emptive striking should only be happening if you are unable to escape or de-escalate and you are certain you are about to be attacked.
Stacking: When attacked by a group you should manoeuvre yourself so that your aggressors get in each others way to get to you. Again, having good fighting skills is excellent but what good are they if you are being punched by 3 people at once?
Hit the soft targets as soon as possible: In most cases of violence, the victim has been selected, attackers are very good at this. You’ve been chosen because you are physically inferior or outnumbered. Even if you are a very skilled combatant why mess around going toe to toe with someone bigger than yourself (there is a reason that martial arts and pugilistic sports have weight categories)? The reality is you have a few seconds to distract or put a larger person down before they get hold of you and you have a few seconds to drop one of a group before the next one is on you. The only way to do this is to play dirty. Kick bollocks, punch throats and gouge eyes. You are protecting your life.
As you can see, if my students have an idea of their goal in a self defence situation (i.e. De-escalate, Protect your head, move well, strike vulnerable areas) this will serve them much better than “Throw a perfect Hook punch” – The concepts and basic skills come first, perfect technique is something that complements and enhances the self defence capability of students.
British Krav Maga Leeds