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Krav Maga Military “Secrets” Part Two – Moshe Katz

April 22, 2012

Lessons from a Real Life Case in Israel

As I was writing this article (Krav Maga Military “Secrets” Part One) I was unaware that just a couple of days earlier, in my own town of Ma’aleh Adumim, a terrorist attack took place. Unfortunately the attack was not handled properly by the security forces and the attacker escaped unharmed. Yet, there is a great deal we can learn from this case.

Sometimes people who are unfamiliar with Krav Maga in Israel ask me, “Where is the knife disarm?”

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A real knife is sharp and dangerous and can cause death quickly. Warning! Do not attempt to disarm a person with a knife, even if you are an “expert”.

Our approach does not focus on the knife disarm but on stopping the person who is attacking us with a knife. Danny Inosanto, the only fully recognized instructor under the legendary Bruce Lee, said these words of truth, “Knife disarms are incidental if not accidental.”

What does this mean?

Incidental means that is not significant, not important, if a disarm happens in the course of your defense – fine, if not – that is also fine, the disarm is not what counts.

Accidental means that sometimes in the course of your disabling the knife attacker, i.e. the person with the knife you might end up taking the knife away. This is viewed as an accident, not part of your plan, not something you set out to do. Why did you not set out to do this? Because to look for the knife disarm would be highly dangerous.

This same message can be born out of the reaction to the knife attack in Ma’aleh Adumim.

“Why Did You Not Shoot Him?”

The headlines in our local newspaper read, “Why did you not shoot him?”, we will learn a valuable lesson from this headline.

On Shabbat during the afternoon hours a young Palestinian Arab arrived at the entrance to Ma’aleh Adumim. He hung around for a while until he found the right moment to execute his attack. As he reached the entrance (the check point) of the town, he stood facing Michael the security guard and spoke Arabic, Michael did not understand him.”

Michael requested an Identification document, instead the young man pulled out a knife and tried to stab Michael in the throat. Michael pulled back and thus saved his own life. He was only superficially scratched. Next to Michael, a distance of two meters, stood Noga, the second security guard, who began chasing after the terrorist, but he did not open fire. According to Michael he also shouted (to Michael), ‘don’t’ shoot'”  The article continues with the police investigating the question – why did the security guard not shoot? For those unfamiliar with Krav Maga training in Israel it is important for me to state what is obvious to us over here. The question that was not asked was “Why did he not attempt to disarm the knife attacker?”

That question was not asked because we all know the answer – you never attempt to disarm a knife attacker, you will get badly cut or worse. The disarm is incidental or accidental but never planned.

The policy, as I was taught while training the elite security guards of Jerusalem is: Block, create distance, and shoot to kill. Anything other than this will put you and others in grave danger.

No one in our current investigation questioned why did Michael not attempt a disarm. He moved away. As we always teach in our knife disarm lessons, seminars and DVD’s– first choice is simply to get away. If someone is pointing a knife at you and you have time and ability to get away – do so! Do not be concerned with your ” Street Creds “, Do not lunge in and try to grab the knife from the attacker. Do not attempt a disarm. As the headlines of our paper read – Why did he not shoot him?

Haim Ben Hor, manager of the dept of security and safety, reacted: ‘The incident was supposed to end with the terrorist being fired upon. There was no problem with the security guards guns, no jamming or other technical problems occurred. The problem was a human error and this will be fully investigated and conclusions will be drawn.

Other Mistakes:

The guard should have noticed the suspicious behavior of a young Arab “hanging around’ for too long.

The guard should be aware t hat when asked to produce a document a potential attacker might just as easily pull out a knife or gun. He should have been aware and ready to respond.

Military Opinions

I discussed this case and the general idea of knife threats and knife attacks with a current instructor in the Israeli army and a combat commander from an elite unit. They both concurred completely with the sentiments expressed on this website. When I asked the commander, Roee, how he would deal with a knife attack , he answered, “I would hit him with my rifle, create some distance and shoot him between the eyes.”

His answer was immediate and did not require any thinking or contemplation.

When I asked him about the possibility of disarming the attacker he looked confused and perplexed. He could not understand the logic behind trying to disarm a man with a knife. He asked me what kind of people think this is possible.

The instructor, Michal, expressed surprise that any one would attempt to take a knife away from an attacker. “not logical, too risky”.

Real Life Outcomes

From the cases I am personally familiar with where people have survived terrorist knife attacks there are three discernible categories;

1. Evasive movements –The defender made a quick evasive movement and ran away. Either security personal neutralized the threat or the defender simply escaped.

2. Block and Run – In these cases the defender made a quick block and then escaped either unharmed or with a minor cut.

3. Struggle – In these cases the defender struggled with the attacker, managed to immobilize the knife hand, and eventually submitted or pulverized the attacker.

In the one case I know where the defender attempted a disarm, it ended in his death.

Conclusion: Do not attempt a disarm except under very unique situations.


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