I think the term ‘self-defence’ is misleading when it comes to Krav Maga, certainly for the attitude I train with. It implies that the system is all about reacting to attacks, and remaining passive until the attacker (I shall use this term to mean the other person, whether they are actually physically attacking or not) makes a physical move etc. When in fact pre-emptive striking is an integral part of the system and much of our training centres around developing power and speed with our strikes and honing our fighting skills.
As I see them the principles of self defence are.
(a) You have the right to defend yourself when attacked.
(b) An attack is any unwelcome action by another person directed at you, whether physical, verbal or psychological. This incidentally is in line with my workplace diversity ethos – it is how your actions are perceived by the other person, rather than how you perceive them, that decides whether they are acceptable or not.
(c) Successfully defending yourself means making the attacker either unable or unwilling to continue their unwelcome action.
(d) I will ascend as far up the Scale of Force as I need to accomplish the above goal. The Scale of Force describes the 5 levels of human interaction – 1. Nice 2. Assertive. 3. Aggressive. 4 Assaultive. 5. Lethal. Hence an attack does not necessarily have to involve physical violence to elicit a physical response. Indeed, attack is the best form of defence and the best time to attack is before the other person!
Another principle of self defence is ‘It is better to avoid than to run away. It is better to run away than to de-escalate. It is better to de-escalate than to fight. It is better to fight than to die’. Of course, in real life avoiding and running away are not always options. De-escalating a verbal conflict does not mean any kind of weak ‘please stop being mean’ kind of talk. It corresponds to the assertive and aggressive levels of the Scale of Force. Going into a modified version of my fighting stance (hands chest rather than face high, palms towards the attacker rather than clenched fists) and firmly (but preferably without inflaming the situation by swearing) telling the attacker I find their conduct unacceptable, to leave me alone etc. Then stepping to the aggressive level if that doesn’t work, hands come higher, voice gets more forceful etc. Then if that still doesn’t work, maybe giving an ‘educational block’ a firm heel-of-hand push to the chest while digging fingers into their super sternal notch. A similar thing can be used with someone who insists on leaning too close over you, using the power of your legs as you stand up to drive the push. If that sill doesn’t work, then I strike! To use the rattlesnake as an analogy, the assertive level corresponds to rattling the tail, aggressive to that and hissing. The optional educational block is like a dummy bite, final FINAL warning!
In effect, the only difference between defending against someone being verbally irritating and a potential killer or rapist is how far up the Scale of Force you must go to arrive at a situation where the attacker is unable or unwilling to continue. The more violent the attack, the higher you usually have to go. I say usually because sometimes a potential violent attacker or even killer can be put off by an aggressive verbal display. Similarly, someone (for example a manger in the workplace) may be so convinced their higher status or rank gives them the right to dominate you that verbal assertiveness and aggression don’t work and you end up having to knock them out. So be it, the only thing not ‘on the table’ is submission as far as I’m concerned!
Of course, this is very much informed by my own radical individualist ideology. I am a Satanist, a member of an organisation (The Church of Satan) that in effect deifies individuality. I came to Satanism via the anarchist movement after becoming disillusioned with collectivist ideology. I realised there was never going to be a revolution, most people need someone or something to do their thinking for them and simply don’t want the responsibility that genuine freedom brings. I have never seen the fact that someone tells me ‘you have to do this’ or ‘you can’t do that’ to be an adequate reason for either doing something I don’t want to do, or not doing something I really do want to do. That mindset is what got me involved in the anarchist movement and in the quarter century or so since I left, it has only become hardened. Both by me getting stronger and more confident (mentally and physically) as an individual and by becoming increasingly disillusioned with people in general. I just hope no one is ever stupid enough to piss me off and then ignore my verbal warnings to the extent that I need use my Krav Maga on them. Both for their sake and my own! But if it comes to it I shall not hesitate, keeping in mind the following quotes from The Satanic Bible by our founder, Anton Szandor LaVey.
“Give blow for blow, scorn for scorn, doom for doom—with compound interest liberally added thereunto! Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, aye four‐fold, a hundred‐fold! Make yourself a Terror to your adversary, and when he goeth his way, he will possess much additional wisdom to ruminate over. Thus shall you make yourself respected in all the walks of life, and your spirit—your immortal spirit—shall live, not in an intangible paradise, but in the brains and sinews of those whose respect you have gained.“