I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in any style of martial arts so take this as personal experience. I have studied and practiced Krav Maga and some boxing. Because of recent circumstances I have been reviewing a lot of online self defense videos on youtube. I can say there are a lot of different techniques out there for self defense and a lot of classes.
From my experience some work and some probably don’t. When looking for good classes there is one sure way to tell which are worth it and which aren’t. By exploring videos that do what’s called “stopping the immediate threat” you can teach yourself what you are looking for when you get into your first self defense introduction class.
There are many videos on youtube to glance through and again, some have good techniques and others have techniques that seem to work in the little snippets of video or on paper, but fall short in a real world scenario. The videos that fall in the latter category show you a “potential” situation generally in slow motion. They are positioning the attacker’s hands in a specific way and the victim is also particularly positioned so that the maneuver looks good in theory. See the video at the link:
You see the man with a young girl pushed up against a wall, his hands seemingly tight around her throat. She places her hands up through his open arms and goes for his eyes. I have seen this technique taught in other self defenses classes and of course, in class it may go smoothly. In the video it looks flawless and easy. In reality, it’s not so simple.
When I train it is no holds barred. When I am practicing it is with as real a choke as possible (with safety measures in place, of course). It is so if I’m in a real situation I’m prepared for how little time I have and how tight those fingers can get fast. Because of this practice I can place myself in this young lady’s situation. The first thing I notice is she isn’t stopping the immediate threat. When someone is getting choked the immediate threat is the hand (or hands) around your throat.
The biggest hole in this scenario is if this girl is getting choked she will continue to get choked if she does what is being shown and the only thing her action is going to do is cause him to squeeze her throat tighter in order to brace himself for whatever she’s doing. She is making the situation worse!
Let’s examine addressing the immediate threat (jump to 1:04):
For all those who wanted to know this technique is called a “thumb pluck.” If you can’t breathe it is only a matter of seconds before you will collapse and the fight will be over with you losing. The thumb pluck stops the immediate threat by releasing the attacker’s thumb(s) from your throat.
Onto another scenario. When a gun is pointed at your face, the gun is your immediate threat. On instinct (or hopefully on instinct after training) you’re not going to grab for someone’s neck or kick them. You aren’t addressing what can kill you at that moment – the gun. In a proper scenario the first thing you are going to grab for is the gun:
My point in using these scenarios is not for you to attempt to learn them if you have no training. The point is knowing which self defense classes are worth your time and money and which aren’t. I don’t care what line of bull they sell you and I would be very leery of any Krav Maga classes that don’t teach the “thumb pluck” at all. If the self defense instructor doesn’t focus on the immediate threat, thank them for their time and go back on your search.
Again, I’m NOT AN EXPERT, but stopping the immediate threat is common sense and the first thing that matters. The simple fact is you can’t continue the fight if you’re dead. If your class is not teaching that, you need to move on to one that does.