Posted by on June 28, 2019

Sometimes one can be so closely involved with things that the larger context is lost to view.
Brian Ferneyhough

One aspect that separates Krav Maga from many other self-defense systems is its emphasis on context.

In real life situations, your primary concern is the imminent threat – usually an assailant. This deserves focused attention as there are innumerable assaults-punches, kicks, grabs, chokes, stabs. What is often overlooked, however, is the context in which these assaults occur.

The context might include location, people involved, space, and many other factors vital in determining how you must act to survive.

Here are 4 general contextual factors to consider.

  1. Is the attacker alone? During competitive fighting, you can focus on one person – your opponent. Unfortunately, outside of the ring, there might be more than one attacker. This will significantly influence how you protect yourself.
  2. Are you alone? Over the years, I have encountered comments such as, “If he has a knife just run stupid!” It is good advice if you are alone and can access escape routes. What if, however, you are with your partner, your kids, or both? How you defend when protecting others is different from saving yourself.
  3. Escape Routes. Avoid and escape if possible. Always be aware of escape routes. Also, be aware of an escape route is not readily available (elevator, subway…). Access to escape routes must play into your self-defense tactics. On a sidewalk perhaps you can run. Running in an elevator won’t get you very far.
  4. Size of Space. How much room do you have? Defending yourself in an elevator can be very different than in a near empty parking lot. Kicking in an elevator, for example, is a much more challenging feat than in a near empty parking lot.

There are always more factors to consider but this offers an introduction to the topic. One challenge, of course, is blending this appreciation of context into your self-defense training. We will address this challenge in future blogs and welcome any of your ideas.


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