It can be intimidating, especially for us in Canada, where carrying firearms just isn’t a widely accepted way of life, to think that we live in a world in which gun-violence is a possibility.
It’s naturally very upsetting – we all want to live in peace and security, pursuing education, careers, and personal goals without having to anticipate the threat of an attack. Unfortunately, gun violence does occur, and in venues that many of us would not have imagined possible. The crime statistics provided by the Toronto Police Service, which you can access directly here, demonstrate that while some aspects of gun crime have remained fairly steady or decreased marginally, others have increased. Overall, gun-related crime remains an alarming reality.
This brings us to a key point in Krav Maga. We believe that any major, undesired change to your current lifestyle is a “loss of life.” To us, every statistic on the above chart is critical. A fatal shooting is an obvious and tragic end of life. But, in Krav, we also think about shooting victims who have lost use of a limb, the ability to walk, who have suffered compromise of other faculties, and those who experience psychological trauma – the lives that these people led prior to a violent incident are effectively over. A person in this situation will have to learn new ways of doing things, in some cases find “work-arounds” or alternatives – life will not be the same as it was before. For us, that is also “loss of life.” Survivors are resilient and powerful, no doubt, but they should not have had to alter the course of their lives on account of criminal brutality.
It’s a matter of perspective, then, that we have had potential students criticize the depiction of gun (and even knife) defences on our website or in our videos. We understand that it can be troubling to contemplate violence, and perhaps this is the very reason that some people shy away from realistic training like Krav Maga. As we’ve mentioned in the past, there’s a different mindset among those who do train – we believe that there’s huge value in hoping for the best…but being prepared for the worst. We think of Krav Maga as insurance.
Think about this: it’s mandatory to have house and car insurance. When you purchase a property, and before you drive a foot in your car, you have to have proof of it in writing. Why? You’re a careful homeowner and a cautious driver. You’re responsible and maintain your investments in excellent condition. Yet, you know that it’s not your behaviour, rather the unpredictability of others’, that requires you to secure insurance for your assets. You also know that the time to do this is not after an incident takes place – you need to establish protective measures well in advance. If you wait until something disastrous has occurred, you will find yourself without help and without recourse. Similarly, in order to prevent loss of life – in any form – the time to begin to train to protect it is prior to the experience of violence.
The physiological and psychological stress that a threatening encounter generates is difficult to imagine and harder to express. It’s common for people simply to freeze in violent situations – the mind is overwhelmed and the body cannot compensate. Understanding this phenomenon, Krav Maga helps students to train through physiological and psychological overload – but that requires practice. Even KM, which is known to be a system that can be learned quickly on account of being based on natural reflexes, cannot be mastered in a day. There are no one-hour experts, and that is why, as we said above, you need to begin to train in advance. As with most worthwhile pursuits, appropriate reaction requires preparation.
What we tell our students, new students especially, is that it’s not only permissible, but laudable, to start where you are and build. Better to start at any given point, then practice and learn and improve, than not to begin at all. Every beginner is one less person likely to be victimized, one less person to suffer any form of loss of life. Our philosophy is that if there is gun crime, there is a reason to learn to resist it.
Check out this video on our YouTube channel – a short clip of Rafi demonstrating the importance of several components of gun disarms. You’ll see that he emphasizes body-defence (appropriate movement out of the line of fire) and not using exaggerated, dramatic, or stunt-like reactions. A few excellent points regarding life-saving technique.
The Academy Team