Reality Check: Krav Maga Does Not Make You Invincible (How I Nearly Got Myself Killed)
Let me this start this post with the life lesson I’ve learned some time ago. This life lesson is:
Krav Maga does not make you invincible.
Do not act like you are!
And I’m damn sure you can substitute ‘Krav Maga’ with any other martial art in existence.
Let me just repeat that for you:Krav Maga does not make you invincible.
Do not act like you are!
There is a reason Krav Maga emphasizes the ‘scan and run’ technique. There’s a reason Krav Maga is so brutally succesful. Krav Maga blocks and counters effectively so you can flee. It is not designed to purposefully engage in confrontations with multiple attackers.
How did I learn this valuable lesson? Well… let’s just say that I did make the mistake of thinking Krav Maga gave me awesome superhero powers. Heh.
This happened a while ago, already. It was probably after I had about a month or two of Krav Maga experience (LOL – I’m so naive sometimes). By that point I knew the first two defenses against straight punches and the regular 360 defense. I also knew how to give a powerful kick and knee to the groin and… well… it made me a bit more reckless than the situation warranted.
In Krav Maga we have an awesome motto, one I’ll repeat again because I like it so much.
“It’s better to avoid than run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than fight; better to fight than die.”– Krav Maga wisdom.
What does this mean? It means that the best way to defend yourself is by not being in the place a fight is going to break out. Avoiding a conflict or fight should be your first goal. Only when you can’t avoid a bad situation and a fight is inevitable you should go into battle rage/kill mode.
Let’s see how badly I screwed this up, shall we?
It was four PM on a saturday and I had just finished work. I have a part-time job at a large restaurant where I do the administrative work. Before that, however, I worked as a hostess at the same restaurant. My primary job had been to deal with complaints and angry people. And I had been good at it. In five years these situations never escalated.
As I walked to the restaurant’s exit, I noticed how a large bus pulled on the terrain. Sport supporters. Great. They were louder than the usual. Probably drank a whole bunch of alcohol, too. The supporters of this particular sport didn’t have the best reputation either.
Sorta relieved I was done for the day I walked over to my bike and unlocked it. When I looked up I saw three men, quite obviously from the same group, peeing in the bushes to the side of the restaurant. They did this in full sight of the big terrace, a place that was crawling with kids. :/
When I saw these guys, several thoughts went through my head. What I was basically thinking before I told these guys to behave themselves was the following:
My first instinct: “There’s three of them. They’re drunk. They’re sports supporters. They’re men. Walk away.”
My second thought: “But it’s my job to tell these people to stop exposing themselves in front of these kids.”
And that was true. Throughout the years part of my job had been to tell stupidly behaving people to start behaving themselves properly. I had done it plenty of times without any bad consequences.
My first instinct, again: “Screw that! I’m done with work for today! No way! I’ll either get one of the managers on duty to do it or just go home!”
My second thought: “I can take the trouble of going all the way inside and have them be done by the time a manager gets there, OR I can just do it myself. Come on, this is what I did for the past five years.”
My first instinct: “Uh. Three men. Drunk. THREE. MEN. DRUNK. “
My second thought: “Yeah. But… Fuck it! I know Krav Maga! Yeah! Totally! If I say something and the guy in front wants to hit me, I can easily deflect and counter… I’ll keep him in between to block the others and then… yeah. But seriously, what are the odds of that happening anyway? I did this stuff all the time when I was still a hostess. And now I know Krav Maga, so it can only be easier! I’m brimming with confidence! I’m totally right in admonishing them… Yeah, I can totally do this! Easily! And even if things don’t go to plan, the restaurant’s door is about 10 yards away, just have to go past the terrace screens, through the passage, into the restaurant and then a bunch of yards more, so I can easily run away to safety… yeah, sure! I can TOTALLY do this.”
My first instinct: “No you can’t–“
My second thought: “EASILY run away.”
My first instinct: “…”
As clearly seen here, when it come to dangerous situations it’s better to listen to your instinctive reaction than some illogical rationalization. Sigh. This was…sadly enough, nearly literally what went through my head.
As I said, you’re here to learn from my mistakes.
Having made up my mind and being pretty confident of my actions, I addressed the three men in my best professional voice.
“Excuse me, but what do you think you’re doing?”
Out of nowhere, they totally freaked out. All three of them started shouting at once, looking over their shoulders as they did so. They shouted so loud and hard that I couldn’t understand what the hell they were saying until the leader spoke the loudest, just as the other two fell silent.
Leader (aggressive, angry): “…and what the fucking hell — do you work here or something?!”
Me (stunned at aggressive response, but used to winning these situations): “Uh. YEAH.”
Leader (subdued): “Oh.”
(silence of less than a second as I continued)
Me (sorta righteous) : “The toilets inside are free. So WHY on earth are you doing this outside?!”
By now they had turned around and started to approach me threateningly. The leader puffed up his chest and glared darkly at me. The other two fell in step behind him, and formed a loose triangle. As they did so, all three started shouting incoherently again.
The moment they started to shout, I realised I had been really, really stupid. They were big. Bigger than me. WAY bigger than me. And older. And wider. And tougher. And probably experienced in fighting. And – oh god, they were drunk and sports supporters. I thought I knew Krav Maga? Oh man! What a laugh! Getting into an actual fight with these three men– they would slaughter me. I thought I could handle them?
What the hell had I been thinking?!
And the worst part: my way out didn’t look so much like a way out anymore. All those yards might have well been miles. Run away? I didn’t dare to show how intimidated I was. I was afraid it would show too much weakness, make them see me as prey. These type of sports supporters are known for being aggressive and I didn’t dare give them a reason to actually turn on me.
It seemed like ages but only took a few seconds before they had crossed the distance to be within striking range.
So I did the only sensible thing I could think of to de-escalate this situation.
Me (terrified but not showing it): ” Fine! Fine, whatever– I’m not making any trouble over this– See ya!” stepped on my bike, and got the hell out of there!
But I learned a valuable life lesson.
And that lesson is that Krav Maga does not make you invincible. I was stupid and reckless to think so. I was way too impressed by the things I learned during training and too influenced by movies about what fighting is supposed to be like. I didn’t realise how intimidating such a situation really is. (Because I
am/ used to be / am a sensible girl. I had never before been stupid enough to say or do something idiotic like this).
Getting into a fight with three men over an issue that was technically speaking not my business was stupid. There was no direct bodily harm involved for anyone until the moment I spoke up and placed myself in danger. I should have listened to my intuition and instincts instead of the illogical rationalization in my head that provided me with bad arguments and a fake sense of superiority.
Remember why we learn Krav Maga. “So that we may walk in peace”. Note that it’s not “to win fights” or “to be righteous”. No, it’s “so that we may walk in peace.”
“It’s better to avoid than run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than fight; better to fight than die.” – Krav Maga wisdom.
The Krav Maga motto made better sense than it ever did after this encounter.
You never voluntarily get in a bad situation (as I did). You avoid confrontations because you don’t want to fight. This is the lesson I learned because I was stupid. Nothing bad happened. But it could have. If they had been just a bit more drunk, or a bit more aggressive, I would have had a really big problem.
Being confident about yourself is good. But this is no reason to become reckless and purposefully seek out confrontations. Don’t fall prey to a false sense of security and become over-confident. Always be aware that the best form of self-defense is simply not being present when the shit hits the fan. Avoid bad situations.
And if you do something stupid like I did and see a fight approaching, a fight you can’t win: Know when to give up and walk away. That day I learned that knowing when to walk away is as much a victory as physical domination. :-)
Krav Maga does not make you invincible! No martial art in the world will. Even if you’re a black belt, a knife will still harm you. Multiple attackers will still harm you. A gun will still harm you. Don’t make the mistake to think you are invincible just because you’ve started learning a (really effective) self-defense system like Krav Maga.
Because nobody is invincible. Nope, not even your instructor! Unsure? Just ask them.
I’ve definitely learned my lesson. Hopefully, you’ve learned my lesson too! Seriously. Learn from my mistake so you won’t be the one to get yourself killed in a heroically stupid action that wasn’t even all that heroic. :/