Weapons defense is a crucial aspect of Krav Maga as this self-defense technique was created for the IDF and every soldier is expected to see combat during their time in the Israeli Military.
This is a big plus for civilian Krav Maga students as it raises the bar on how well they can defend themselves against even aggressors who wield firearms and other deadly weapons.
Being able to protect yourself against someone with a baseball bat, knife, machete, katana or even a sidearm will enhance your survival skills.
This means that you can mostly get out of any dangerous situations!
Reasons Why Aggressors Will Use a Weapon Against You
Scientists say that the human brain works like a differential engine and that the heart, gut, and muscles are also part of the higher nervous system which is probably why we are irrational sometimes.
In some cases, these irrationalities get blown out of proportion and humans tend to do things that are beyond normal and sometimes inhumane and criminal. When their level of aggression peaks, you can be sure that they will not only try to harm you but will use weapons to amplify the damage that they want to inflict upon you.
Here are some reasons why they want to attack you with weapons:
• They want to rob you – this is probably the most common reason why people use a knife or gun on you, and that is to get something that is of significant financial value from you (e.g., wallet, cash, credit card, jewelry, smartphone, etc.).
• They want to rape you (for women) – violence against women is at all time high even in first world countries in North America, the European Union and other parts of the world. Rape is often the reason for holding women at gunpoint or knifepoint which is unfortunate and is also the reason why we encourage women to learn self-defense.
• They have a grudge against you – it can be challenging to deal with people who hold grudges as the anger and frustration build up within them is a surefire recipe for aggression and, in some cases, even murder. If you happen to confront someone over some important or trivial matters and it turned ugly, and they lost the fight, you can bet that they’ll be back with a katana or an AR-15 to settle the score.
• They think you’re a snitch for the cops – never judge a book by its cover as the saying goes, but criminals, especially those who are into drugs and human trafficking does the opposite of that, and if you happen to wander off into their territory or area of operations (no matter how innocent you look), they will most likely tag you as a snitch and kill you.
• They just don’t like new faces in their neighborhood or turf – gangsters and gang wars are a common thing in America, Mexico, and other hot spots. These guys guard their turf like predators, so as much as possible never wander off of into their grass if you value your life.
• They want to intimidate you into doing a favor for them probably for personal, financial or political gain – sometimes the job position you hold is significant enough to get shady people’s attention, and once they understand how much of a factor you can be for their gain, then they will intimidate you to do whatever they want. The good news is that there is a 70% chance that they won’t kill you for it just as long as you comply with their demands; however, that 30% chance that they will kill you can turn into 100% if you refuse them. Often the culprits behind this are guns for hire from rival companies or dirty politicians who want to get leverage against their rivals to win the election.
• You are a threat to them, that’s why they want to eliminate you – sometimes you’re the public prosecutor or the judge who handles a big crime boss’ case, or you’re that nosey detective that gets big criminal organizations to jail, and they don’t like people like you who put their existence at risk. So the only option for them is to eliminate you and believe me they won’t come at you with some fancy martial arts skills to end you, but with guns and even explosives to make sure you’re dead.
• You saw them commit a crime and they don’t want to leave any witnesses to talk to the police – being a material witness to a crime instantly puts you on the crosshairs of the criminal, and he/she won’t stop hunting you down until they’re certain that you won’t be talking to the cops, lawyers and the judge permanently.
• They are psychotic criminals or serial killers and have targeted you as their next victim – there are real people out there who have lost too many screws up their heads and think that cutting people to pieces is art. These people are considered criminally insane and sometimes can also be serial killers as they kill people with a recognizable pattern. You would have a terrible day if one of these freaks backs you into a corner and you can be sure that they’re carrying a knife or gun with them to accomplish their sick and twisted mission.
Self-Defense and Reality
When Hollywood action superstars such as Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Stevan Seagal, Jason Statham and a whole lot of laundry list of characters came into the limelight and introduced martial arts to the world, people started enrolling in a martial arts school in droves.
Unfortunately, only two decades had gone by, and people are now trash talking Aikido and other martial arts that promises the best self-defense, but when it comes down to a real fight, even the black belt Aikidoka gets knocked down.
Why did it happen? Recently a rumor circulated in the martial arts world in the US that the hardcore Aikido master Steven Seagal was choked out by Ronda Rousey’s mentor, Gene Lebell who was already in his 70s.
Well, looks apparently can be deceiving as this old man may have proven himself (allegedly) still formidable even in his old age, I mean, he did train MMA champion Ronda Rousey after all!
This video seems to question some of Seagal’s claims, and even Joe Rogan says that Seagal’s fighting style is a bit silly if applied in real-world combat scenarios.
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You don’t get to choose how you fight in real street fights as YouTuber Fight Science explains. The two weaknesses that every martial artist have is against sucker punch attacks and surprise attacks, especially those that come from their blind side or the back.
It’s almost impossible to use self-defense in an attack that you cannot see coming! That is a fact.
Even if you train daily and spar with your partner daily that still doesn’t guarantee that you will leave the battlefield unscathed, so how do you survive a street fight then?
The answer is to explore the various kinds of attacks, and there are four kinds of them.
1. The usual confrontation that builds up to heated arguments and turns into aggression – this type of developing attack is easy to spot, and you will have enough time to prepare for that incoming shove, punch or kick from the person you confronted or confronted you. There may even be instances where you practiced this type of attack in the dojo while sparring with your partner; therefore you may already be familiar with it.
2. The meet halfway and fight on equal footing battle – this type of attack is also easy to spot and handle as this is the most common form of attack that you practice in the dojo every time you spar. You will also have enough time to prepare and think of the best moves to put your opponent down.
3. The suckerpunch – this is the second most difficult form of attack as it can happen in only a split-second and you’ll have to develop super quick reflexes to react to it and then counter with your fist of terror! It can happen anywhere any time, and in one moment you’re drinking your Starbucks coffee cup on the go, and the next moment someone hits you like a sock in the eye. The one advantage you’ll have against a suckerpunch is that the attack comes from your 180° field of view and you can block or dodge it, then deliver a counter attack.
4. The attack from the back (blindside attack) – this is probably the most difficult attack to deal with while you’re on the street and that’s because it is outside of your field of view. Your disadvantage is that you’ll be distracted by noisy pedestrians, traffic, you’re having a conversation with someone on the phone, you have your hoody on, you’re listening to some nice tunes, etc. and then your attacker sneaks up on you and hits you at the back of your head weakening your nervous system and knocks you down. But there is a way to anticipate it and beat your opponent in his own game! The trick is to use your other senses; especially your hearing and your peripheral vision turning your head to the left and your right as you catch a glimpse of what’s going on behind you even just for 1-2 seconds would even the odds. It’s equally important to strengthen your body and train it to learn to take a hit and not be shaken, so you can hit back harder than your assailant did.
Train Radical Self-Defense
Okay, so you train and spar at your local Krav Maga dojo, but are you prepared to fight on the street if the occasion calls for it? What if maybe, just maybe, for you to be prepared for street fights is to train to fight literally on the streets?!
Well, that certainly seems reasonable, albeit radical. Here’s my suggestion, you let your sparring partner or partners (try to anticipate that you may not only face one opponent out there but several) to take the role of street thugs who will bump into you and get confrontational.
You just have to agree which street corner you will meet and spar there like in a realistic situation. Or you could also have your friends ask other guys (people you don’t personally know) to play the bad guys and spar with you that way you can raise the stakes higher.
From there you practice the four types of attacks and be prepared for it if it ever happens to you for real. Just keep in mind that both you and your sparring partners dial down your attacks as you’re only training in the streets to get the feel of what’s it like to face threats out there compared to the dojo.
The next level in your Krav Maga training is to train for weapons disarming and how to use the gun that you’ve just retrieved from your aggressor. Although you want a clean, fair fight, there may be situations where your enemy will not fight fair or clean, and it gets worse when they’ll bring in the cavalry against you.
Also read: essential Krav Maga training gear
So having disarmed your first opponent, you can now use that same weapon he used on you against his friends, in case they decide to gang up on you. Or use it to stun them or cause them to fall into a state of panic and then you run away to safety.
The Other Deadly Kind of Attack – Improvised Weapons, Bladed Weapons, and Firearms
Some attacks are more lethal than others, and if you happen to be at the receiving end of a rifle, a handgun, a knife or a hard object, then there’s very little chance that you’ll survive which is why weapons usage, defense and disarming is a vital component of Krav Maga.
You never know what kind of weapons your aggressor will bring into a fight or how many he’ll use, or whether or not he’ll call for backup and those guys have guns too!
It’s essential that you can identify what kind of weapon he’ll use, how lethal that weapon can be, be able to disarm him and how to use that weapon against him. Guns and weaponry knowledge can be the difference between life and death.
Types of Weapons
In Krav Maga, you will be trained on how to use and defend against conventional as well as military-grade weapons. The KM instructor will teach you the different kinds of rifles, sub-machine guns, and handguns that anyone can purchase at a local gun store or illegal arms dealers.
They will also teach you how these weapons work, how they affect the human body and what the survivability rate is if you’ll get hit with one of them. Then he will teach you how to defend against them and possibly even use them after you’ve successfully disarmed your opponent.
Rifles and Handguns:
once you’ve started in a Krav Maga class, then you can expect to be trained in weapons offense and defense once you reach a certain level in rank – we will go in depth with this later on.
You’ll learn how to use both the rifle and handgun, how to hold it the right way and how to keep it from being taken away from you.
You will also be trained how to defend against it if the scenarios were reversed and you’re the one who has no weapon. You will learn how to use your environment to leverage against your aggressor in a close quarter battle (CQB) situation or more open spaces like the streets and neighborhoods.
Knives and Swords:
blades are the more preferred weapons for assailants who prefer to take down their targets (which is you) stealthily or quietly. Fortunately, the first weapons defense skills that you will learn is disarming someone who wields a knife.
On the other hand machetes and the Japanese katana are more difficult to defend against, but not impossible. You’ll need to be always moving to get out of the reach of your opponent and use the environment to protect yourself at all times.
Then at the right moment when your attacker leaves a vulnerable opening in his stance, you make a counter-attack fast and hard until you have entirely dominated and immobilized him.
you must have seen it on TV or in movies or YouTube videos, heard it over the radio or podcast, or even read it in newspapers, magazines and blog posts when someone is backed into a corner the gloves come off and everything goes.
They will use everyday objects like broken beer bottles, torn acrylic glass with sharp edges, car keys or credit cards – even a 2 x 2 wooden stripboard as a weapon to protect themselves from their aggressor.
Krav Maga stresses creative and resourceful fighting, and this is why when we talk about using the environment to gain leverage against your opponent, we mean that you get inventive and use whatever object you can find near you to fend off your attacker.
Once you learn self-defense (especially Krav Maga), it becomes an unspoken requirement that you research the different kinds of weapons that may be used against you at any given time.
Learning things like the names and specifications of the weapons will help you understand their power and the best tactical advantage on how to use them or defend against them.
Krav Maga Defensive Techniques Against Weapons
And now we move on to the details on how exactly do you defend yourself against weapons; however, be aware that unarmed combat against guns or knives is very dangerous and should only be used as a last resort.
You may want to do what the assailant tells you to do to avoid the risk of getting shot, or if you find an opportunity to run away, then do it.
1.) Defense Against a Gun to the Front
If you’re going to be robbed or threatened or if the aggressor’s motive is to rape you, then chances are he’ll come at you from the front and point his gun at your chest or face.
If his goal is to rob or just make a threat, then it may be better to agree to his demands and avoid the confrontation, but sometimes thieves don’t like witnesses too!
So they may pull the trigger on you, and by that time it wouldn’t be fair to give up your life too after giving him all of your personal belongings, so you must fight to survive. The same is true for women who are in danger of getting raped. You give him hell before you let him have his way with you.
Do not put your hands up until he says so. This will give you the advantage to pull a fast one on him, redirect the line of fire and take the weapon away from him.
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You must always use your left hand to redirect the gun’s muzzle perpendicular from you, and then you use your right fist to attack the vulnerable parts of his face (e.g., nose, mouth, eyes and throat) to stun and weaken him.
Grab the area of a gun where the hammer is located after your initial attack and rapidly twist it 360 degrees to break his index finger while it’s still inside the trigger guard. Then come back 180 degrees and take away the gun from him, then use it against him now.
2.) Defense Against a Gun to the Rear
When the attacker points a gun at you from the rear, he’d usually have the same reasons as from the previous paragraph, and there’s also a different way to defeat him from a seeming disadvantageous position.
This YouTube video shows how it’s done.
• Step 1 is to get out of the way of the gun’s barrel by turning half step inwards using your left foot.
• Step 2 is to swing your left arm around his right arm (where he’s holding the gun) and lock it against your chest.
• Step 3 is to attack him on the face using a hard elbow blow.
• Step 4 is to follow up your elbow attack with a hard knee to the groin to deny him the opportunity to struggle or make a counter attack.
• Step 5 is to slide your right hand down his right arm and grab the gun, point it towards the ground to avoid accidentally shooting bystanders and take it away from him.
• Step 6 is leaping away from him and point the gun at him, then call the police for help.
3.) Defense Against a Gun to the Side
Defending against an attack from this vector is also somewhat tricky; however, it does give you several options to disarm the aggressor. Keep in mind that your assailant will attack you from either side (left or right side) and the way the gun is position against you will change depending on whether he is left-handed or right-handed.
So make sure to push the line of fire of the gun away from your body and not in any other direction.
For full analysis of how it’s done, check out this video:
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• Step 1: he points the gun at you from your left side (aggressor is right-handed). Usually, the gun is aimed at your ribs or lower left stomach area and is in front of your left hand.
• Step 2: grab his wrist with your left hand and use your right side to grab the gun and push it away from your body at the same time.
• Step 3a: remove the weapon from his hand. It’s easier to do it this way as his fingers and palm are facing perpendicular to you (to the front). So even if his index finger is already inside the trigger guard, it will slip out if you push it hard enough.
• Step 3b: this time the aggressor points his gun at you from the right side. Follow step 2, but since his palm and fingers are looking towards your back, then that means his hand will lock if you try to push the gun away from your body. You may push hard enough to break his index finger first as it gets stuck in the trigger guard and then, come back 90 degrees to remove the gun from his hand.
• Step 4: hit him with a 1-2 punch to stun and hurt him (you may follow up with a knee to the groin if you like), then use the gun to threaten him to stop attacking you and immediately call the police.
4.) Defense Against a Gun to Back While Mounted
Perhaps the most difficult to defend against is the gun attack while you’re being mounted on top and faced to the ground. But don’t worry because you can still get out of this tight situation based on this Krav Maga demo video.
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How to defeat your opponent while he is mounted on your back with a gun to your head:
• Step 1: lie very still to give the impression to your aggressor that you’re complying with him completely.
• Step 2: with a blinding speed grab the gun and pull it to the side of your head to redirect the line of fire, then change into a semi-crouch position and lift your buttocks while you pull his arm (where he’s holding his gun) and make like a Judo throw and take the gun away from him.
• Step 3: overwhelm and dominate him with punches and elbow drops and make him poorly hurt before you make an assessment of the weapon and determine if you can use it against him.
• Step 4: don’t kill him but give him a clear and stern warning that you’re willing to use the gun to put him down, then call the police for help.
5.) Defense Against a Knife Downward Stab
The unpredictability of knives and other bladed weapons, mainly used at close range, makes it almost as dangerous as handguns. However, this Krav Maga instructor says that you can beat a knife-wielding aggressor.
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Here are the steps to do it:
• Step 1: observe and anticipate his attack which is a downward stab and is probably aimed at your shoulder or chest.
• Step 2: block it with your left or right arm depending on which hand he’s holding the knife. Make a 90-degree angle with your hand blocking his hand (wrist to wrist) and push his hand back while delivering several blows to the face and neck with your other hand.
• Step 3: move in and place your arm on his neck and shoulder (the sleeve where the weapon is located), lock him in towards you and deliver a secondary attack with a knee to the stomach followed by a kick to the groin (you can also strike the groin in the first attack to save time).
• Step 4: while grabbing his wrist twist his hand inwards to make him yield, then slide your hand and grab the knife and take it away from him.
• Step 5: do a hard front kick and then create a distance to assess the situation. If he’s knocked out, then take this opportunity to call the police for help. If he’s still conscious, then continue defending yourself if he’ll make further attempts to attack you, although this is highly unlikely now as you already took his weapon.
6.) Defense Against a Knife Straight Stab
Although I wouldn’t say that a straight thrust to the stomach, chest or neck is easier to defend against, I can say for sure that it is easier to see, which means that you can block it before it connects.
Take a look at this video where a Krav Maga instructor demonstrates how to defeat a straight thrust knife attack.
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• Step 1: move out of the way of the incoming knife and block it with a reverse hand blocking technique, grab your assailant’s wrist (where the knife is located to prevent him from making further stabs at you), then deliver a powerful counterattack to the face and neck area.
• Step 2: grab the hand that holds the knife and twist it towards your opponent, then push it towards him to injure him and take away the knife from him. He won’t be fighting back anytime soon as you’ve already wounded him near the liver area, in fact, he won’t be getting back up at all.
• Step 3: call the police and EMS (emergency medical services) to help your aggressor. Even though he tried to kill you be the decent human being and give him a chance to change his ways by saving his life.
7.) Defense Against a Knife Upward Stab
This kind of knife attack is like an uppercut but with a very sharp edge thing attached to your attacker’s hand, which can rip a hole right through your gut if he’s successful with his attack.
And just so you know, getting deep injuries in the stomach is the most painful thing to experience, so I would do everything in my power to avoid getting stabbed this way if I were you.
Still, Krav Maga can find a way around it and beat this attack style just like how this KM instructor showed his viewers in this YouTube video.
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• Step 1: block the attack with one hand, grab the wrist where he’s holding the weapon and deliver a counterattack by hitting his groin, stomach, torso, neck and face simultaneously.
• Step 2: kick him in the groin again and grab his hand (where the weapon is located), then twist it which will make him yield and drop to the ground.
• Step 3: kick his head to disorientate him further and then retrieve the knife from him.
• Step 4: call the police.
8.) Defense Against a Knife to the Rear
A stealth knife attack from behind is similar to what we’ve discussed earlier about an attack on your blindside where you can’t see your aggressor nor his weapon in your field of view, except this one can turn ugly very quickly if you’re not prepared.
Here’s how to beat an attack from the rear with a knife:
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• Step 1: turn around very quickly and use your left arm to redirect the weapon away from your body, deliver a powerful elbow strike to the face to stun your aggressor and then, lock your arm around his arm where he’s holding the weapon while you lock his head with your other arm.
• Step 2: deliver powerful knee attacks to the groin and the stomach area, twist his head until his back is facing the ground while maintaining control over his wrist where the weapon is located. Push him to the ground and punch his rib cage and kidney area.
• Step 3: twist his wrist inward to injure his eye or cheek, then turn it again outward and take the weapon away from him.
• Step 4: call the police for help.
9.) Defense Against a Knife to the Throat
Nothing could be more intimidating than a knife to the throat! With the range too close to an area of your body so vulnerable, one wrong move and your carotid artery could be sliced open, and 30 seconds later you’re dead.
But even in a sticky situation such as this one you can still make a counter offensive and put your aggressor down efficiently.
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Here’s how you can do it:
• Step 1: block and redirect the hand that wields the knife away from your body, then deliver a hard counterattack to the face with your fist or open palm.
• Step 2: grab his shoulder as you restrain the hand with the knife and immediately give him a groin kick (you may have to provide him with more than one groin kick to knock him down).
• Step 3: grab the hand where he wields the knife and removes it from him as you twist his arm to put him in pain and keep him from resisting you.
• Step 4: Kick his head as you break away and create a distance between you and him.
• Step 5: assess the situation. If he tries to attack you again, then threaten him with the knife this time to make him change his mind, otherwise, call the police for help.
10.) Defense Against a Knife to the Throat from Rear
This kind of knife attack mostly happens when the aggressor decides to take you as his hostage. It’s very similar to a headlock, except he has a knife in his hand and can do a lot of damage to you unless you break free immediately.
In this video, Krav Maga instructor AJ Draven from Krav Maga Worldwide demonstrates how to turn the tables in such a situation.
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• Step 1: grab his arm and wrist drag it down as low as you can, lower your left shoulder where the edge of the knife is pointed while also raising your right shoulder as high as you can. This will allow you to lock his swinging arm and immobilize it.
• Step 2: turn around going inside towards your back while keeping his arm locked and as you turn the knife is now pointed at his side near the ribs.
• Step 3: push the knife towards him to injure him (do this a couple of times), then twist his arm to prevent him from struggling.
• Step 4: grab his hand and simultaneously kick him in the face, then rake the knife away from his hand and create a distance between the two of you.
• Step 5: assess the situation and call the police.
11.) Defense Against a Rifle (Close Range)
Shotguns, M4A1s, AR-15s, and AK-47s, are devastating if you’ll get hit at close range, but you can get the chance to disarm your aggressor if he gets close enough. Here is a video of how a Krav Maga expert reversed the situation when he was threatened with a rifle.
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Note: in this scenario, the aggressor points his gun directly at your face or chest.
• Step 1: use your right hand first to redirect the muzzle with an abrupt move, then use your left side to push it out further and away from your body.
• Step 2: with the right hand now free you can strike your opponent to the face to stun him while keeping the rifle away from you.
• Step 3: twist the gun as you grab its other end and hit him on the front with the steel barrel to weaken him.
• Step 4: you may also kick him to the groin if he still doesn’t let go of the rifle before you take it away from him.
• Step 5: assess the situation and make sure that he has lost the will to fight back, or it would be better if he’ll run away rather than face the threat of a man with a gun.
12.) Defense Against a Rifle (Long Range or CQB)
At long range, especially if you got caught in an active shooter situation, it can be even more difficult to defend against a rifle because they have longer barrels which mean they have a longer active range than handguns.
Your best chance of survival against an active shooter with a rifle is to run or hide according to Fight Science. It would be good if you could run away or hide and remain unharmed after the whole ordeal is over, but if your survival depends on taking out the shooter, then this is what you have to do.
• Step 1: the first thing to do when someone is firing at you 5.67mm rounds from a powerful rifle is to run and hide in order not to give the shooter the opportunity to hit you.
• Step 2: it is expected for you to be in a state of shock and panic, but try to control yourself and assess the situation.
• Step 3: stay as far away from the shooter as possible and keep as quiet as possible to make it difficult for him to locate your position.
• Step 4: check your surroundings and look for items that you can use as a distraction and as weapons. This is very important because you can’t just come at him with a 2 x 4 or a machete, so you’ll first need to distract him and get him to fire on an area where you are not, then attack him where he least expects it.
• Step 5: start closing the distance between you and the shooter, but do it stealthily and remain undetected until the right moment.
• Step 6: create one or more distractions to get his attention away from you and prepare to make the assault when he’s not looking. Distractions can be fire or explosions or even just noises, but make sure that the distraction is loud enough and big enough for him to take the bait. You can use small propane tanks or fire extinguishers to create a loud explosion, or you can cause a stack of boxes to collapse to form a disturbance. You could also cut off the power and use the darkness as cover to sneak up to him and attack him. Just be creative as best you can.
• Step 7: use whatever object you’ve found as a weapon. It can be a 2 x 2 wooden beam, or a shard of glass sharp enough to cut his neck or a steel pipe to hit him in the head and knock his lights out. Keep in mind though that you need to get at least 10 feet to him before you attack and you have to remain hidden while closing the distance, otherwise he’ll be able to see you coming, and your plan won’t work. Once you get close enough to sprint your way to him and hit him hard and fast and retrieve the weapon to take him out or immobilize him.
• Step 8: call the police and EMS for help.
Read more: do’s and don’ts of online Krav Maga courses