Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. 25th Workshop: Surviving Knife Threats, 3-5pm

Assailants will use knives or other edged weapons to intimidate someone to comply with their demands: theft, abduction, sexual assault....

It is important to know how assailants use edged weapons as well as your options.

This workshop will focus on:
  • understanding how assailants use edged weapons
  • your realistic options
  • tactics and techniques to survive

This workshop is open to all levels - beginners welcome!

2156 Yonge St.
60/2 people

Registration deadline is Oct. 23rd. To register online go to:

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

 In the meantime, here is an article about surviving knife threats:

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Live in safety: Explaining our vision

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Jack Welch

Why did you begin your Krav Maga business?  This is a frequent question people ask us and the answer does involve a history of meetings (chance and arranged), decisions and important people.  In essence, however, there is a vision. 

Every business begins with a vision.  Initially, it might be vague, an impulse, but there is a sense of "what can be" and what you can do to make it real.  These visions vary from improving lives through technology to providing a unique restaurant experience.  Our vision inspires how we teach self defense:
We stand for for every one's inherent right to live in safety.  We aspire to keep our families and communities safer by helping men, women, and children (regardless of age and physical strength) learn practical life-saving self-defense.
Concise and straightforward, much like Krav Maga itself.  Our vision doesn't require much elaboration but it is worthwhile to highlight some points.

First, we want you to be safe.  Of course, there are professionals (police, security guards), and family or friends who can protect us but we would like you to have the skills and knowledge to protect yourself.  The first step is developing awareness.  We help you to recognize threats and to make safe choices.  Avoiding confrontation is the best self defense.

Secondly,  you might be physically fit or unfit, young or old, coordinated or not....  It doesn't matter.  Again, we believe you have an inherent right to be safe - regardless, for example, of your physical abilities.  Krav Maga is a simple system, based on the body's natural reflexes.  You don't need to be "athletic" to learn. We will patiently improve your technical proficiency.

Lastly, we offer a trustful training environment promoting a safety-first atmosphere.  You are trusting us to train you and we want you to experience this in a place of mutual respect, integrity, and camaraderie.

As we grow, it is this vision that keeps us grounded and focused on why we are here.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Self Defense Training and the Flywheel

In his seminal book, Good to Great, Jim Collins explores how good companies become better great.

Though focused on business, Collins offers some lessons that can be applied to becoming a proficient Krav Maga practitioner.

One of these centers around the analogy of the flywheel.  Collins writes:

     Picture a huge, heavy flywheel - a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds.  Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and as long as possible.
     Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first.  You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.  You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.
     You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation.  You keep pushing in a consistent direction.  Three keep pushing...the flywheel builds up speed...
      Then, at some point - breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kick in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn...whoosh!...its own heavy weight working for you...Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier compounding your investment of effort...
      Now, suppose someone came along and asked, "What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?"
     You wouldn't be able to answer; it's just a nonsensical question.  Was it the first push? The second? The fifth.  The Hundredth? No!  It was all of them added together in the overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction..... (165)

To me, this speaks not only to the evolution of a great business but also to other aspirations such as becoming a proficient Krav Maga practitioner. This person trains regularly and, in a steady manner learns, works, and improves. It isn't her near perfect Practitioner 3 test, or an epiphany during a workshop he attended last year. Rather, it is the accumulation of the weekly strikes, attention to technical detail, the questions, conditioning exercises, reflexive drills..... all of these focused activities lead to greater proficiency.
As the student gains momentum, she is able to perform defenses reflexively without pause. Movements that once felt awkward become comfortable. New situations and solutions are assessed more readily.  Of course, to improve he must continue to train.

Don't look for shortcuts.  It is the consistent, focused and effective efforts that lead to progress, and ultimately make you better able to protect yourself. 

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

picture courtesy of Can Stock Photo Inc.

Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't.  New York:               Harper Collins, 2001

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 27 Workshop: Defending in Close Quarters

Avoidance, we like to say, is the best self defense.  Sometimes, however, situations force us to be in physical contact with an aggressor. 

Consider the following scenarios:
  • An elevator
  • Home invasion
  • Leaving/entering your vehicle
  • On a subway/streetcar/bus
  • A small room (e.g. a public bathroom)
This workshop will offer tips on avoiding and escaping danger but will focus on what to do if these options are not available.

Topics include:
  • protecting your body
  • close range striking - elbow, knees....
  • how walls and other physical structures can hinder and benefit your safety
  • escaping holds/grabs

This workshop is open to ages 16 and up.  Beginners welcome!

International Krav Maga FederationToronto
2156 Yonge St. (1 block south of Eglinton)
Saturday September 27th, 3-5pm

To register online via Paypal or credit card visit:

For more information please contact:

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Monday, August 11, 2014

Perseverance in Training

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
― Confucius, Confucius: The Analects

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

To become proficient in anything requires sustained effort and focus.

It also involves working through various obstacles or challenges. These can be many:
  • Perhaps you are not as athletically gifted as some of the other students. 
  • You might have a busy life that only allows you to train once a week.  
  • There are certain techniques that you are struggling to understand and perform. (I always had problems with wrist releases.)
  • You have a temporary or permanent disability (e.g. back problems) that can slow down or limit your training

Such factors can frustrate.  They can be more frustrating if you are comparing yourself to other students (or instructors) who have rapidly moved up the testing ranks. 

We can’t always expect rapid, monumental progress in our training.  Besides the above-mentioned limitation we might experience injuries, busy schedules, or simply find ourselves struggling with particular techniques, concepts, and exercises. 


Here are some suggestions to help you persevere:

Be a tortoise:  There will always be students who are more athletic and seem to perform techniques and exercises with annoying ease.  You might not be as gifted but persist over the long run and you will marvel at your progress.
Adjust Your Standards:  Monumental leaps in proficiency are not always forthcoming. Strive to improve a little every month, every week, every class, and every exercise…  Your sustained effort will reap beneifts. 
Don’t Compare:  There is always someone better.  Don’t torment yourself by comparing yourself to someone who is more skilled.  Focus on your own development.
Adapt Your Learning.  You body is tired?  Watch some Krav Maga videos.  You are physically tired?  Stretch.  You have a leg injury?  Consider how you would defend yourself from a sitting position.  Adapt. 
Don’t Forget the Fundamentals!  Continue to refine you basic strikes, releases, body defenses etc…  This will help you when learning more complex techniques. 
Don't Binge. Train Consistently.  I have seen students who try to binge by showing up 4 times a week before a test vs those who show up consistently once or more week on a consistent basis.  The latter do better.

Persist with small steps and you will improve and become proficient.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto