Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Tip of the Iceberg: Curriculum as a Foundation

Our IKMF curriculum covers various "families" of self defense techniques and situations including stances,  striking, escaping holds and chokes, surviving weapons assaults, third party protection, and multiple attackers.  The highest levels,  Expert 3-5, specialize in VIP protection, Law Enforcement, and Military techniques and tactics.  
The curriculum is comprehensive and very well designed but we must approach it as a foundation rather than as an answer to all self defense scenarios.  During classes, students will often suggest a new problem.  What if the attacker chokes you this way instead?   What if he grabs your shirt and tries to punch you like this?  This is excellent because it demonstrates that the student is engaged and it brings up variations that could happen.   

Let's take for instance an ice pick/downward stab knife attack at close range.   In Practitioner 1 (P1) you block and strike with a body defense and escape.   In Graduate 1 (G1) you defend, strike, control, and disarm.   What happens for instance when the attack grabs you by the shirt or throat then attacks?  What if he grabs the arm that your would usually punch with?  (See below video for some solutions). Since teaching is based on principles (plucking chokes, striking the most accessible vulnerable point, etc...) practitioners can adapt to novel situations.  

So, while the curriculum provides the essential tools to survive, it is important, (with the guidance of a certified instructor) to explore variations to better prepare for real life situations.   If we can't come up with solutions then we can always call upon our excellent Global and Expert Instructor teams for answers and suggestions.  

Stay safe,  

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Krav Maga: Self Defense that Adapts to You

”The wise adapt themselves to circumstances as water moulds itself to the pitcher." 
Chinese Proverb

The elements of every self defense situation is unique: the attacker, the attack itself, the physical setting etc.  This is why Krav Maga is based on principles rather than rigid techniques based on predictable attacks.  Moreover, all self defense practitioners are unique, possessing various physical abilities, mindsets and experience. 
With such diversity a self defense system must have the capacity to adapt to people's unique qualities.

Here are some examples of qualities that many of our students have addressed.  

Size:  Height and weight can help or hinder but there are ways to adapt techniques to your body type.  A tall person, for example might use a knee strike against an assailant whereas a shorter defender in a similar situation might use a kick.  

Strength:  Some students are incredibly strong but inevitably we all meet someone who is stronger.  Some of us might not be very strong at all.  Techniques are designed so that you are using strong muscle groups against their weak points.  With many choke and wrist releases, for example, we attack the thumb with our shoulder, back and hips.  

Agility: One of the reasons Krav Maga endorses simple techniques is to rely less on agility and athleticism.  If a technique cannot be performed by someone of average or below average agility then it is inadequate and we have to change or adapt it.   

Experience: "I am a beginner with no martial arts experience".  This is a frequently cited concern.  Beginners, however, blend in quite easily and many join us every month.  Techniques are simple and easy to perform so students tend to see early progress and develop confidence.  Also, some people have little or no experience with physical violence.  It is our job to explain what assaults look like and to include exercises that mimic (a much as safely possible) the stress of real situations.   

Disability:  One of our most dedicated students is blind.  He wants to learn to protect himself so we work with him to modify techniques to more effective.  His progress is astounding.  IKMF instructor Stephane Chatton is developing an "Adaptive Self Defense" program to modify techniques to give practitioners with physical disabilities the best chance to protect themselves.  

Fitness: One of the more frequently expressed reservations students express is that their fitness level will not allow them to participate.  We tell students to go at there own pace and offer modified exercises (e.g. pushups against a wall rather than on the ground).  Time and time again we see fitness levels improve.  

Age: Next to fitness and experience, age is most frequently mentioned as a concern.   I turned 47 this year and can't deny that my 27 year old self was a little stronger and faster.  However, Krav Maga have taught me economy of motion, awareness, effective striking, fighting tactics and so much more that more than compensate for any effects of aging. 

All of us are unique with strengths and weakness.  The key is to adapt techniques to our unique qualities with sustained and attentive training.  

Stay Safe

Christopher Gagne
Owner, Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Friday, March 18, 2016

April Seminars: Managing Your Survival Stress (April 9), Surviving Public Shooting (April 10)

We are happy to announce two great seminars coming up very quickly: 
April 09:  Managing Your Survival Stress
April 10.: Surviving Public Mass Shooting

Krav Maga Nation owned by Henry Karabela will be organizing two seminars in the beautiful WuXing Martial Arts studio, offered by the new SOS TACTICAL TEAM.

Our Theory part is based on the most current scientific research in areas such as biomechanics, exercise physiology, survival responses to extreme environments, training methods... We also have demonstrated expertise in security consulting, risk assessment, strategic consulting. SOS TACTICAL delivers only precise and scientifically validated information.

Our Practice part benefits from our expertise in Modern Urban Self-Defense (combat, krav maga, CQB...) and from our experience in field operations (Firefighting, Police, SWAT, Military). Safety and training first! Our self defense seminars are always adapted to the fitness level of the participants.

For more information visit:

Below are some posters with more information (location, times) about the seminars.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

March 12, 4-6 Workshop: Escaping Chokes (Beginners Welcome)

One of the more dangerous and common assaults are chokes.  Chokes pose an immediate threat because your air is cut off and time is very limited.  Your reaction needs to be quick and precise.  .

This workshop will focus on:
  • Prevention techniques
  • practical escapes from chokes from all direction
  • escaping from chokes from medium and very close range
  • Static chokes and chokes with pushes and pulls.. 

 Beginners are welcome - no experience necessary.

International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF), Toronto
2156 Yonge St.

To register contact

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Our Kids' Program: What Does it Cover?

Our kids program follows the curriculum as set out by the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF) in Tel Aviv.  It is a standardized high quality program for every country we teach kids.

The kids program is organized into 5 levels.  Kids(K)1 to Kid(K)5.   Overall, the programs are similar to the adult Practitioner (P)1 to P5.   Differences are based on age appropriateness   Young children do not practice knife defenses whereas adults do - for example.

All training develops awareness, safety, and encourages students to have fun while improving their overall fitness.

Structure of Each Level
The curriculum is divided into different "families", similar to the adult curriculum.  Each level builds upon the previous.

Stances: Students learn to protect when they are ready, caught by surprise, standing, sitting, on the ground... Stances are also important because they teach students to be ready so they are more prepared in the event of a physical attack.  "Hands up" also signals to an aggressor to stay away and can also attract the attention of others who might help.

Strikes and strike defenses: Using your arms and legs to protect yourself.  Krav Maga is different than competitive systems, for example, because Krav Maga includes strikes/defenses to all directions and distances.  Why?  In real life an aggressor (or aggressors) are not always standing directly in front of you.

Escaping holds: Wrist releases, escaping chokes, abduction prevention....  Kids learn to evade grabs but also learn how to use leverage and in more serious situations, strikes, to escape.

Protecting Against Falls: Falling on slippery surfaces(ice), being pushed - how to fall safely.  Level 1 teaches how to be safe when pushed against a wall.  Later levels teach falls to the ground.

Defending on the Ground:  Defending and escaping while being held on the ground.... There is light wrestling to teach kids how to use their bodies to not be pinned on the ground and to escape.

Multiple Aggressors: Tactics to avoid being surrounded, how to get distance and escape.  In Level 1 we teach this skills in an exercise we call the "Zombie Game."

Common Objects: Kids learn how to use everyday objects to protect themselves.  Level 1 focuses on shield like objects such as back packs.

These "families" as we call them establish a foundation that give kids the awareness and physical tools to be safe.  Each level builds upon the previous and we consistently review the fundamentals.

Feel free to contact us with any questions!


Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto