Scenario Based Self Defence Training

Have you ever experienced a real emergency? Emergencies come in different guises but they are unmistakable once you’re in the middle of one.

Being physically attacked is one type of emergency many people will face in their lifetime. The good news is that you don’t have to be exposed to an emergency situation in order to learn how to deal with one. It’s a matter of knowledge, awareness, and practice.

This article looks at how the Krav Maga student has an advantage over the average person in a hostile situation, even those who may have trained in another martial art. It also touches on the ways that Krav Maga can help prepare people for other types of emergency situations.

Three ways Krav Maga prepares students physically for emergencies

In a combat-related emergency, it is important to be ‘fighting fit.’ That’s why cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and flexibility are all important aspects of Krav Maga training. Over time, the Krav Maga student will develop the physical stamina, strength, and flexibility to outrun, dodge and outfight less physically fit attackers.

Of course, fitness alone is only useful in limited emergency scenarios, For example, you might be able to outrun a distant attacker or scale a high fence. But when it comes to close combat, the student will need many more skills to stack the odds in their favour.

Krav Maga is dedicated to the rapid development of such combat skills. After all, this is a system that is used to get new Israeli Defence Force recruits ready for combat. The assumption is that the student could walk out of their next Krav Maga training session and straight into a hostile, emergency situation.

Krav Maga accelerates development by teaching techniques that are not only effective but simple to deploy. Even after their very first taster session, a new Krav Maga student can expect to be able to look after themselves better than before they walked through the door. 

With practice, these techniques (and later, combinations of them) will be built into the student’s muscle memory. This is important due to the release of adrenaline in emergencies, something I will focus on in the next section. One of the problems with many martial arts is that the techniques are complicated and therefore take a long time to learn, let alone master. With the exception of a handful of ‘basic’ punches and kicks, the beginner student is therefore relatively unprepared for a real-world attack.

The third way in which Krav Maga prepares its students for combat-related emergencies is through scenario-based training. While almost all martial arts now build their training around belt gradings and competitions, Krav Maga is focused mainly on ensuring that the student could handle themselves in a range of real-world situations. Another way of putting it is that Krav Maga is an applied self defence system, designed to be effective in the streets, not only within a dojo or sports hall.

That’s why Krav Maga training sessions include defence against weapon attacks. With knives and guns now more prevalent on our streets, the ability to disarm an opponent could mean the difference between life and death. Students are equipped with the skills necessary to defend themselves from a standing, seated or prone position, using strikes, kicks, and grappling techniques as appropriate. Krav Maga also teaches locks, pins, pressure points, sweeps, and trips.

Scenario-based training is not limited to Krav Maga training sessions. Students can hone their responses in other areas. For example, dodging opponents on a basketball court or scaling a climbing wall are all transferable survival skills and can complement Krav Maga.

Mental preparation for emergencies

So far, I have focused on the physical aspects of preparing for an emergency. But Krav Maga’s training also addresses the mental aspects.

Krav Maga instructors emphasize the importance of commitment to training and leading a healthy lifestyle. This attitude will ensure the physical body is in the best shape possible to respond to an emergency.

Scenario-based training is important too because it highlights the so-called ‘enemy in front’. This is very different from the formulaic attack and defence drills that most martial arts classes teach to help students master techniques. Scenario-based training introduces the unpredictability of the street, helping a Krav Maga student to respond more flexibly when a real attack occurs.

One of the most critical skills anyone facing an emergency can have is the ability to master their own adrenaline rush. When the body recognizes a threat, it immediately sets off a chemical cascade to ready the body for action. Unfortunately, one side effect of this process is a diversion of blood away from the planning centre of the brain. This leaves us relying on our instincts. Here is where a Krav Maga student’s muscle memory will be critical. While others freeze or panic, they will act with purpose, running or fighting their way to safety as the situation dictates.

It is always preferable to avoid a fight where possible. A Krav Maga student is taught to be humble and avoid shows of bravado because these could invite or escalate a hostile situation.

Escaping from danger is always the priority because any fight is inherently unpredictable. There could be multiple assailants. Some may have knives or even guns. Attackers could be high on drugs and therefore less sensitive to pain. There might be a risk of catching disease through wounds.

A Krav Maga student also knows that injury is more likely the longer a fight lasts. If there is no option but to fight, their main aim will be to end the fight quickly and disengage as soon as possible.

Law and ethics are also important considerations in violent confrontations. While there are no rules when it comes to survival, that does not absolve anyone from responsibility for their actions. Krav Maga instructors are keenly aware that some of the techniques they are teaching are potentially lethal. A Krav Maga student needs to understand the difference between proportionate and excessive force. They also need to be aware that they may need to justify their actions in court should their attacker end up seriously injured.

Recognizing an emergency

A big part of acting appropriately in an emergency is realizing that an emergency is occurring in the first place. As we all get used to living in relative peace and prosperity, it becomes all too easy to drop our guard and forget that the world outside is not always safe. After all, despite the headline stories in the news, emergencies are thankfully rare.

To keep them on their toes, Krav Maga students are coached in situational awareness, giving them several advantages over the average person.

Situational awareness is all about understanding your environment and noticing changes in the patterns around us. It is not about walking the streets in a paranoid state.

Someone trained in situational awareness will be calm but alert. They will often pick up on the signs of danger before a full-scale emergency develops. For example, they may notice multiple aggressive individuals arriving on the scene from alleyways, people picking up objects to use as weapons, or a group blocking an escape route. They are more likely to clock someone displaying unusual behavior or a vehicle moving in an odd way.

A student actively engaged in situational awareness is also less likely to be victimized in the first place, especially if the attackers are opportunists. For example, muggers and pickpockets are far more likely to target someone who is plugged into a set of air pods, face buried in a smartphone screen than to pick on a Krav Maga student who is looking around themselves, calmly assessing their environment.

Every second is precious in an emergency situation, so the sooner you understand the situation, the more options you will have. As explained above, it is much better to have the option to run and get yourself to safety than to have to fight yourself out of a corner.

Using Krav Maga in non-combat-related emergencies

A lot of the skills learned in Krav Maga sessions, especially mental skills, are transferable to a wide range of non-combat emergency situations.

For example, situational awareness, prioritization, and fast action will be needed in an emergency requiring first aid. Specific techniques might need to be deployed immediately to preserve life. For example, someone might need to resuscitate a casualty using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or locate, retrieve and use a defibrillator. Where someone has been wounded, knowing how to apply a tourniquet, or how to pack a wound, could be the difference between life and death.

This is why first aid and Krav Maga are sometimes taught together (1). After all, a street attack could easily lead to serious injury.

Sadly, many people only realize how unprepared they are for an emergency when the worst happens. Krav Maga is the best insurance policy a person can take out if they want to be physically and mentally ready for an unexpected threat to their life and health.


  1. https://www.child-matters.co.uk/krav-maga-and-first-aid-course/