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Kravist Weapon Defense Drills

by David Kahn, September 26, 2013

Working with a good partner to practice and perfect weapon defense techniques is instrumental to your development as a kravist. The force and speed of the mock attacks should be gradually built up over time as your defensive skill sets improve. We do not advocate training with real weapons. Facsimile training weapons are readily available. We highly recommend Blueguns facsimile weapons for your training needs. Rubber or plastic knives and padded batons can also be acquired through Asian World of Martial Arts. Eye protection, especially when training against edged-weapons attacks is prudent and always a must when practicing disarms with projectile-firing facsimile firearms.

Training Drills with a Partner

As you work with a partner, you will develop trust enhancing your ability to work with one another and enabling you to “go harder” as you progress within your respective skill sets. Training with multiple partners is also beneficial for the obvious reason that no two people move exactly alike. Someone with longer limbs will execute attacks and defenses differently than someone with shorter limbs. Bodyweight and strength are also highly influential training factors. Men and women should train with one another interchangeably. Coordinate your training with your partner or group of partners to ensure maximum training benefit. Designate who will perform the specific technique against the corresponding mock attack. After sufficient practice and familiarity with a given technique, series of techniques, and the overall training concept, introduce variations.

Training scenarios and variations with a partner should be worked in two practice phases: (1) limited—where you predetermine how your partner will attack and vary the designated attacks; (2) unlimited—you know a variation will come, but do not necessarily know how or when. Limited training technique, for example, might include practicing defenses against pre-set overhead stab attacks. You know your partner is going to attack with an edged weapon slamming it overhead and down into your neck area. Following this limited training method, your partner at the direction of an instructor or his own initiative, will inform you that he will throw a right hook stab to your head. The point is that you know what is coming.

Unlimited open training allows your training to encompass the entire scope of weapon attack variations. Unlimited open training is used at the most advanced levels to resemble the street’s unexpected dangers. Therefore, your partner could have any weapon in his hand or no weapon at all. Using the above example of an overhead-stab limited training exercise, the exercise can change to unlimited open training edged-weapon attacks as follows: you do not know which arm will launch the attack (right or left), what type of attack (straight, underhand, hook stab, or slash to the femoral artery, or variations of these), or the attack angle (straight or from an “off-angle”) and height (high or low). The point is that you do not know what is coming.

You should train to defend against attacks coming from all angles and heights. You should attempt to incorporate specific techniques you have learned to defend an unanticipated attack. The technique may not always be performed correctly, but you will condition yourself to be proactive. Your ability to perform the optimum technique will improve over time as the techniques and reactions become more instinctive and ingrained. Defending against feints is also crucial to realistic training. You should combine all aspects of krav maga through retzev counterattacks to create explosive series of counterattacks using all parts of the body and weapons of opportunity. (Retzev is a Hebrew word that means “continuous motion” in combat.)

The following is a non-exclusive set of training drills to defend against armed attacks. Practice against both left- and right-handed attacks or threats with each type of weapon. You may also have your training partner incorporate strikes with his free arm or legs prior to and during the weapon’s engagement.

Impact-Weapon Threat and Attack Pattern Drills

Work with a partner and a foam or rubber-type impact weapon to defend against the following non-exclusive list of mock attacks from all angles, including your training partner using both right- and left-handed grips:

  1. The facsimile weapon is held in a threatening manner at different distances, grips, and postures. This should include hiding the weapon behind his leg or back<
  2. Horizontal strikes, both one-handed and two-handed variations, forehand, and backhand
  3. X-strikes
  4. Upside-down X-strikes
  5. Low horizontal strikes
  6. Over-the-top strikes
  7. Thrusts, both one-handed and two-handed variations
  8. Upside-down grip strikes

Edged-Weapon Attack Pattern Drills

Work with a partner and rubber edged weapon to defend against the following non-exclusive list of mock attacks from all angles, including your training partner using both right- and left-handed grips.

  1. The facsimile weapon is held in a threatening manner at different distances, grips, and postures. This should include hiding the weapon behind his leg, back, or waistband. Variations include:
    1. Waiving the facsimile weapon in front of you
    2. Holding the facsimile weapon to your throat from the front
    3. Holding the facsimile weapon to your throat from the rear
    4. Holding the facsimile weapon to your back
    5. Pointing the facsimile weapon to your eye
    6. Other scenarios you can imagine
    7. Reacting with the appropriate defense before the weapon comes close to you
  2. Over-the-top stabs, including one-handed and two-handed overhand variations
  3. Overhead (ice pick) stabs
  4. Horizontal slashes
  5. Hook stabs
  6. X-pattern slashes
  7. Upside-down X-slashes
  8. Backhand stabs
  9. Forward slashes and backslashes
  10. Straight stabs to the neck, body, and groin
  11. Underneath stabs to the groin and abdomen
  12. Underneath (reverse grip) slashes up the center of the body
  13. Low slashes to the groin and legs
  14. Variations of these drills, when applicable, on the ground

Firearm Threats (Handgun, Submachine Gun (SMG), Rifle

Handgun defenses should be practiced against both one- and two-handed grips.

  1. Handgun in his waistband, front, side, and back (pre-deployment)
  2. Handgun in his boot (pre-deployment)
  3. Frontal threats including three heights—to the head, midsection, and groin
  4. Frontal threats when you have a companion at your side
  5. Frontal threats with the handgun concealed under a garment or in a coat pocket
  6. Waiving the handgun in front of you
  7. Side threats (three heights—to the head, midsection, and lower torso, including first-party hostage situations)
  8. Rear threats (three heights—to the head, midsection, and small of the back, including first-party hostage situations)
  9. Off-angle threats from all directions (three heights)
  10. “Execution” defenses when defender is forced to kneel
  11. Handgun with a push to front with the
    1. assailant’s free hand
    2. barrel
  12. Rifle/Submachine Gun (SMG) push to the front with the
    1. assailant’s free hand
    2. barrel
  13. Drill using defenses against a firearm in motion from all angles. The techniques remain the same, but the difficulty increases.
  14. Variations of these drills, when applicable, on the ground

Defenses When Assailant is in Motion (Including Seated and Off-angle Attacks)

The assailant walks around the defender and attacks or threatens from all angles and directions as delineated in the previous drills:

  1. Impact weapon
  2. Edged weapon
  3. Firearm

Partner Groundwork

  1. Building on the above techniques, trainees work with one another on the ground. Usually, a weapon is most easily deployed when an opponent gains top position. The assailant sequesters a weapon or multiple weapons on his person. The assailant engages the defender in a mock fight on the ground. When opportune, the assailant should deploy the weapon and attempt to use it against the defender. The defender reacts using the appropriate technique as the situation dictates. In addition, if the defender notices during the mock confrontation a weapon or weapons, in the assailant’s waistband, boot, or pocket—wherever the weapon might be—the defender must take appropriate action either confiscating the weapon or preventing the assailant from deploying it.
  2. In another ground exercise, the assailant places facsimile weapons (impact and edged weapons along with firearms) strategically around the defender and grabs them for a quick interchange or attacks. These attacks should come rapid-fire. The goal is to have the defender react immediately without thinking—instinctively—the goal of krav maga.

Defending Against Two Armed Assailants

  1. One assailant is armed with an impact weapon, the other with an edged weapon. Defending against the impact weapon first is preferable to using the impact weapon against the edged weapon. However, circumstances—chiefly, proximity—may dictate defending the edged weapon first.
  2. Two assailants armed with impact weapons. You must move to the deadside and debilitate, and control one of the assailants placing him in between you and the other assailant.
  3. Two assailants armed with edged weapons. Note again, you must move to the deadside and debilitate, and control one of the assailants placing him in between you and the other assailant.

Special Training Scenarios

  1. You are seated in a car and must use defenses against edged weapons and firearm threats through car windows. If you intend a disarm attempt, it is advantageous to exit the vehicle before you engage, to afford you better mobility and an egress.
  2. You are seated in a car and must use defenses against edged weapons and firearm threats from an assailant in either the passenger seat or rear seat. If you intend a disarm attempt, it is advantageous to exit the vehicle before you engage, to afford you better mobility and an egress.
  3. You are seated in a simulated train or airplane seating from different angles, including seated, and other scenarios that come to mind.
  4. You are seated or pinned to a wall (using all angles and directions).

Group Drills

Trainees form two lines and a student walks between the two and defends against weapon threats and attacks. This is a good drill for unarmed scenario training as well.

Trainees work together in groups of four. One person is the designated defender. The other three students are called by number by the instructor or another trainee. Each trainee is armed with facsimile weapons, which could include an impact weapon, edged weapon, and firearm. The defender stands still while the three other students line up to the defender’s left, center, right with the weapons in full view. One student is called or is otherwise designated to attack with a facsimile weapon. The goal is to practice immediate recognition of and reaction to many different threats and attack patterns from all angles and directions.

  1. A variation of the above drill involves the defender standing still while the others walk around with the weapons behind their backs. Again, one trainee is called or is otherwise designated to attack with the facsimile weapon. If the defender sees the threat before it is deployed, he should perform the appropriate defense. The goal is to practice many different attacks from all angles and directions with different types of weapons and attack patterns.
  2. The same drills can be repeated with the weapons shielded from the defender’s view.

(The above excerpt is from Krav Maga Weapon Defenses by David Kahn.)

David Kahn serves as the Israeli Krav Maga Association’s U.S. Chief Instructor and teaches federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies along with all branches of the U.S. military. He is also a certified instructor through the New Jersey Police Training Commission and Mercer County Police Academy and also teaches at the New Jersey State Police Academy.


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