December 17, 2017

Self-Defense: Real World Self-Defense

Today I want to talk to you about real world self-defense; martial arts that teach you how to defend against attacks commonly seen in the real world.  First let me say that I have nothing against traditional martial arts.  I’m just not sure they’re practical for the average person who doesn’t have years to devote to learning but wants to be able to defend themselves.

I think this type of training is a great idea for everyone, whether you’re someone who doesn’t know how to throw a correct punch, or someone who carries a firearm whenever you leave the house.  Knowing how to defend yourself from attacks will not only increase your chances of survival, but will also give you more self-confidence in general.  Some of these attacks are used literally thousands of times a day, from someone who might have had too much to drink to someone who won’t take no for an answer or even worse, someone who means to do great bodily harm.

There are many different types of real world self-defense.  The one I am trained in is an Israeli based system called Haganah (which translates from Hebrew to ‘Defense’). Haganah was created by Mike Lee Kanarek, who served in the Israeli Special Forces. In Israel everyone must serve in the IDF, their army. They developed a system call Krav Maga to quickly train every individual to competently defend themselves in hand to hand combat.

Mr. Kanarek moved to the US and developed Haganah, which is based off of Krav Maga and other aspects of Israeli training.  It is composed of 4 parts; ICS – Israeli Combat Shooting (Defensive Handgun), ITK – Israeli Tactical Knife, F.I.T. 2 FIGHT – Combat Fitness, the only one I am going to discuss today is FIGHT, which stands for Fierce Israeli Guerilla Hand-to-hand Tactics. You might be asking “why not take Krav Maga instead of Haganah ?”  FIGHT is the aspect of Haganah most similar to Krav Maga.  From my understanding FIGHT is continually enhanced and improved from lessons learned in Israel and from studios across the USA whereas Krav Maga is not (or at least not as much).

FIGHT is a defense based system that teaches how to quickly end a threat and escape from an attack. For me, the beauty of FIGHT is that there are not hundreds of moves that need to be learned like in many traditional martial arts classes.  It goes in a four month cycle; every four months you will learn defenses for hand-to-hand attacks. Rotating every other cycle, you will learn gun and knife defenses.  FIGHT is built to take someone from zero martial arts background and make them proficient to defend themselves in months, not years.

Do you need to be young or in shape to take FIGHT? No, absolutely not.  When I started I was not in shape.  Some of the first classes were more activity than I was used to but nothing I couldn’t handle. If you get winded and need a break, you let your instructor know. As far as age goes, I was 37 when I started and there were many classes where I was the baby in the group.  In fact, we had one gentleman was in his 60’s.  Because of my Asperger Syndrome, I’m a bit clumsy and awkward, a regular “bull in a china shop”.  There is no way I could do Tae Kwon Do or many other traditional martial arts, due to the need for fine motor skills.  FIGHT isn’t designed to be pretty.  It’s designed to quickly deliver significant pain to anyone who violates your safety. Instead of kicking with a specific part of the foot to a specific part of someone else’s body, FIGHT teaches a few different kicks that you use to kick as hard as you can aiming for a general area.

FIGHT isn’t MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).  In MMA you focus on one person.  The goal is to knock out your opponent or cause enough pain for your opponent to submit. FIGHT teaches you to stay alert, as your attacker could have friends.  It also teaches to overlap and overwhelm your attacker quickly so that you stop the threat and escape your attacker.

FIGHT teaches partner preservation.  This means you do use force in practice but to a limited extent.  I often would go 30-40% of my capability.  That is, unless my partner and I had agreed to push each other harder.

FIGHT is an excellent idea for everyone but I highly recommend it for women.  You will learn how to defend against the most common street attacks and to defend against a variety of men, as well as a variety of body types. 

You can search YouTube for videos on Haganah or FIGHT.  There are many available to watch.  Haganah is a bit expensive upfront, as you have to buy the training book and videos, but they are nice to have as you can watch them before class to refresh your memory.
Finding Real World Self-Defense Training

The facility where I learned FIGHT mainly teaches Tae Kwon Do but teaches FIGHT twice a week.  I would recommend searching the websites for local martial arts centers; many have a section for other types of classes that they don’t primarily teach.  You could also call and speak with an instructor; they might know of the type of class you’re looking for, even if they don’t teach it.  Doing a web search for “real world martial arts in [Your City]” might give some leads as well.  I only know the name of two of these types of training, Krav Maga and Haganah, but I know there are many more.

You can almost always go in and watch a class to see if it is right for you.  I was able to take a few classes for free to see if I liked it. 

If neither of those is available and you can’t find real world self-defense classes, I would advise my female readers to take a female self-defense class.  These are often a series of just a few classes and will give you tools that are often easy to learn due to the limited time.

 For full disclosure, I haven’t been able to go to FIGHT for a while and I miss it.  I hope to be able to go again soon.  I had zero martial arts training when I started but if asked, I would have said I think I could have handled myself if attacked.  With what I have learned from Haganah, I can say I had a limited knowledge and am much more able to defend myself now.

I know we have multiple people who practice a variety of martial arts, please comment and give your opinion.  If you know of a form of real world martial arts, please leave the name of it as well.

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