Doubling Your Odds: Krav Maga and the 200% Defense

When talking about probability and human behavior, a 100% probability translates into the fact that a specific action is guaranteed to produce a known outcome every single time. Krav Maga, DSD, and most martial arts consist of a variety of hand defenses; using one’s hands and/or arms to deflect or block a strike.

In the case of a static person (feet planted, upper body still, neck locked into place) using a hand defense against a strike to the face, the probability that the strike will succeed in hitting the person’s face depends upon a variety of factors: hand speed of both the attacker and defender, time of attack recognition, body position, and proximity to the attacker.

In the case of a slow defender or a late attack recognition, a defender will at worst get hit by an unobstructed strike and at best get grazed by the strike; he or she will get hit, but will reduce the strike’s damage.

Now what if the defender were to both use his or her hand to deflect the strike and at the same time reposition his or her face and/or body? The defender forces the attacker to deal with two variables: the attributes of the hand defense itself and the movement of the target (in this case, the head). This is a 200% defense.

The 200% Defense

Krav Maga 200% DefenseIn Krav Maga, a 200% defense consists of two components: a hand/leg defense to deflect or block the strike and a body defense, in which the targeted part of the body is moved off the line of attack.

In an overhand knife attack, where the attacker’s target is the head or upper body, Krav students are trained to block with the arm and at the same time move their head and body slightly forward, almost short of a head-butt (of note, they are also trained to strike at the same time).

The logic is that if the blade is long, the hand defense might stop the trajectory of the blade, but the blade will still be long enough to pierce the head. Furthermore, if the arm is slow to defend the attack, then at the very least, a vital target like the head will be out of the knife’s path.

The same principle applies to underhand knife attacks. The arm halts the knife’s movement, while leaning forward creates distance between the defender’s midsection and the blade. Defending with the hand or leg in combination with the repositioning of the body is referred to as a 200% defense.

While a statistician would argue that a “200%” defense is mathematically non-existent (100% being the maximum), the term is used in Krav Maga to indicate that the defender is utilizing two types of defenses at the same time.

In the case that one defense fails, the other type of defense will either successfully protect the person or reduce the damage that would otherwise be the consequence of single, failed defense. In fact, it is deemed so critical, that a student can actually fail a technique during a Krav Maga test for failing to exhibit proper body defense.

This principle is also adapted for Krav Maga or Israeli third-party protection tactics. A protection agent is trained to defend a third-party as if he or she is the lone agent assigned to the party (or principal). When defending the principal from an attack, the agent’s recognition of the attack might occur late, particularly in environments with large crowds or lots of cover.

From the Krav Maga perspective, an attack happens in such a short amount of time (2 seconds or less) that a protection agent (body guard) cannot shield the principal, control the principal, and neutralize the attacker with his or her own firearm all prior to the attacker’s strike. Furthermore, the protection agent cannot effectively and successfully perform all those tasks at once. Even worse, if an agent in a single-person detail is neutralized by the first attack, as a result making him or herself into a human shield, the attacker will proceed to harm or abduct the defenseless principal.

One solution is for the agent to literally shove the principal out of the line of attack and then draw his or her weapon. In other words, we are moving the attacker’s target as we defend (or in this case, counterstrike). This forces the attacker to adjust his or her aim and extend the time of the attack. Even if it lends the agent an extra sliver of time, it may be sufficient for the agent to strike the attacker before the attacker’s weapon is fired or re-aimed at the principal.

Similar to the basic one-on-one situation, we are doubling our chances of success by simultaneously using two types of defense that, most importantly, can both be accomplished effectively prior to the moment of impact.

 

The Best Martial Art For Self Defense

Adult Self Defense ProgramsLook around the Internet and you’ll find articles that rank various arts for self-defense or extol the virtues of modern styles like Krav Maga over more traditional styles like Karate or Tae Kwon Do.

But the argument is actually false in it’s nature and usually self-serving.

To understand this argument it helps to understand that all martial arts once originated as methods of self defense. In Okinawa, for example, Karate evolved to counter the Samurai. The Samurai were armored and armed while the Okinawans had only farm tools and their bare hands.

Over the centuries Karate as with most martial arts developed into 3 distinct components. And to understand what makes a martial art it’s important to understand these 3 components.

The Demonstration Side

Most martial arts have a display or exhibition side to it. Shaolin Kung Fu for example is an impressive display art. Shaolin Monks actually tour the world with their martial arts demonstrations showing incredible athletic and mental stamina. However much of what you see – like the acrobatic butterfly kick – has lost most of it’s combat value.

Tai Chi is another example of a demonstration art that’s beautiful to watch and has even been proven to provide healthful benefits for practitioners yet has no role in practical combat or even ring competition.

The Ring Competition Side

Most traditional martial arts have evolved from lethal force to adopt a competitive aspect. The traditional JuJitsu of the Samurai for example has become almost exclusively a competition sport in Brazilian Jiujitsu. In fact it’s the most trained martial art in MMA – a sign of it’s competition dominance.

Tae Kwon Do is another example of an art originally developed to counter the feared Samurai that is now best known as an Olympic sport just like Judo and Greco Roman Wrestling. Likewise, French Savate started as a self-defense style for merchant sailors and is now one of the most aggressive kickboxing sports.

While competition sports certainly have their value in developing and testing skill, they also come with rules attached. In fighting both participants know that they are going to fight, both have been trained and the rules allow both to know what to expect. This makes sport training of only limited use when it comes to combat or self-defense.

In Tae Kwon Do and Karate competitions safety gear is often used and punches to the head are forbidden. Even in the roughest of MMA matches, lethal or crippling strikes (to the spine, groin, back of head) are not allowed.

The Practical Combat Side

What was practical in medieval rural Asian countries isn’t necessarily what is practical today. This is how sword and spear techniques for example migrated from combat purposes to demonstration. It also explains why only about half of martial arts schools surveyed teach self-defense.

In today’s world ‘practical’ involves dealing with empty hand attacks and often with multiple attackers. This means that to be practical an art has to be able to deal with one threat quickly and move on to the next.

Practical self-defense isn’t about fighting…

The average person can take a lot of non-specific trauma – hits to the face, gut etc. This is the realm of sport fighting. Self-Defense is about shutting the attacker down in the quickest way possible while limiting injury to yourself. This means striking very specific targets that accomplish this objective and doing so reflexively.

Some martial arts have tried to blend all three aspects of martial arts into one curriculum. This is often the root of confusion for the average person that believes all martial arts are about self defense. To some degree I think even practitioners can fall victim to this mindset.

The Best Martial Art For Self-Defense

Ultimately while one art or style may indeed be more practical than another when it comes to self-defense in the modern world, in the end only an art that you can execute reflexively is worth anything at all.

The argument then isn’t about Wing Chun vs. Jeet Kun Do or any other such nonsense but rather about knowing your own objective in training in a specific art or style.

While it’s possible to learn techniques you can use starting on day one, on average it takes about 6 months of training to build a solid base for self-defense. It may take years to become an expert. This means committing yourself to a school for some time.

If you are looking for a self-defense curriculum ask yourself…

  1. Does the curriculum focus primarily on self-defense?
  2. Are the movements something that I can learn to do?
  3. Is the training built around real world scenarios?
  4. Is the school environment positive and are the people the kind I want to associate with?

I would welcome you to schedule a time to stop in and view a Dynamic Self-Defense class at our New Albany school. We’re located in North East Columbus between Westerville and Gahanna – right off 161 at Rt 62 in New Albany.