In the world of martial arts there’s a lot to choose from and it’s all about picking what works best for you. For Marcus Torgerson, the Israeli military’s Krav Maga system provides the exact down and dirty techniques necessary to defend and escape in a dangerous situation.
Our friend Clint Emerson, New York Times best-selling author of 100 Deadly Skills and Escape the Wolf, met with Marcus to learn some basic Krav Maga movements and mindsets for de-escalating and escaping life-threatening situations.
The first question he encourages students to ask is “Can I de-escalate this situation?” The second question is “How can I escape without getting hurt or worse?”
“Can I de-escalate and talk the person down from wanting to punch me in the face?” Marcus says. “If this guy is hell bent on throwing it, what’s my first available tool that I can use to create an opportunity for escape?”
Marcus says this could include a cup of coffee in your hand, the spit in your mouth, the pen in your pocket. Anything that distracts or confuses can provide the would-be victim time to get out of the situation.
“Everyone has limitations on what they can do in those situations,” Marcus says. “I’m not interested in what a person can’t do. Give me what you can do and let’s maximize the potential of what you can do and make it the most violent possible.”
In Krav Maga, this means simple but devastating movements that can shock or disable an attacker.
Marcus describes this as a ruthless “high five” to an attacker’s face and jaw line. From whatever position you’re in, you can throw a palm strike to the neck, face, side of the head—and keep throwing it until you’re able to get away.
Repeat the palm strike. From whatever position you’re in, you can throw a palm strike to the face—and keep throwing it until you’re able to get away. Aim at center mass.
Strike and flank. As with any defensive move, the repeated palm strike to the face should be integrated with a flanking movement so that you move off center. This opens up the attacker to other strikes and limits their ability to strike back.
Strike repeatedly, flank them, and flee. The ultimate goal of Krav Maga is to escape the situation. Once you’ve created enough space between you, your loved ones and the attacker, get out.
This movement is essentially an uppercut with the elbow in a close situation. The elbow strikes upward similar to the way it might if you were smelling your armpit. This is another example of using whatever “tools” you have available in the moment of attack—which typically happens in split seconds.
This is not roundhouse or anything fancy. The front kick is simply a powerful, violent push with the foot against the soft tissue in groin or the joints of the knees, often in combination with other forceful strikes.
Knives, Guns, and Life-Saving Violence
In the video, Marcus also describes critical skills for addressing attacks from behind, attacks with knives, gun threats, and side attacks. He stresses the importance of situational awareness, but also the critical skill of turning on our violence as situations warrant it.
“The hardest part to teach anybody is aggression, because most people are nice human beings,” Marcus says. “But people have to learn how to turn it on so they don’t shut down in horrible situations.”
Marcus encourages people to learn how to respond to something as simple as being slapped in the face during training exercises.
“Once people are able to smile and laugh at getting hit because they know how to respond, it’s easier for their brain to respond in a violent situation where the stakes are higher.”
The simplicity of the movements Marcus teaches are also their greatest strength. Krav Maga is about hardwiring simple yet violent responses in dangerous scenarios so that you can be self-reliant and self-rescue from real-life, sudden threats.
As with any of these skills or any others featured by the Warrior Poet Society, they’re only effective if they’re trained appropriately and often. Watching the videos featured here will help lay a foundation for developing your own defensive skill set.
To watch Clint Emerson’s full interview with Marcus Torgerson and other defense experts, subscribe to the Warrior Poet Network.
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