Beyond Punches and Kicks: Krav Maga and Situational Awareness

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Beyond Punches and Kicks: Krav Maga and Situational Awareness

Guest Post By EVKM Student Abby Huot

I’m three months into training in Krav Maga at this point, and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. I started on November 4th and I’m just entering my fourth month already- where has the time gone?

One of the things that surprises me the most about practicing Krav Maga is the peace of mind it gives me when I’m out in public. I don’t feel invincible by any means, but I definitely don’t feel the level of vulnerability that I used to feel, especially at night.

In class, it is constantly stressed and mentioned that the thing that matters the most when it comes to practicing Krav Maga and self defense is being situationally aware and doing your best to not put yourself into a bad position. People are astoundingly oblivious to their surroundings. Think of how many people you see cross the street by ASU with their noses in their phones and their earbuds in- they’re not paying attention to their surroundings at all. You’ve seen it when you’re at stores, and even when people are driving.

A few years ago when I worked at an engineering firm in downtown Minneapolis, we had a major problem start happening in broad daylight in terms of a new crime spree issue. The crime was called “flash mobs”. No, not the fun kind where people would be in public and start singing and dancing, either. A flash mob would be where someone would be looking down at their phone, either on a sidewalk or in the skyway system (the network of enclosed walking bridges downtown to keep people protected from the elements in the winter) and they would be swarmed by 5-8 teenagers, get the snot kicked out of them in 30 seconds, and they’d be robbed of their phone and money. The criminals were in and out so fast that victims couldn’t identify or give a description of any of the attackers and what they were wearing.

A friend of mine was waiting at the bus stop after work in a very business-heavy part of downtown Minneapolis. She took out her iPhone out of her coat pocket to look at the time and put it back. A group of 8-10 teenagers literally swarmed her, beat her, stomped on her head, and stole her gym bag and phone. She was left with broken ribs, a broken wrist, a shattered eye socket, and fifty people witnessed this happening and not one person stepped in to do anything. My friend told me the last thing she remembered was laying on the sidewalk and seeing a woman across the street take a drag of her cigarette before they stomped on her head, rendering her unconscious. The rage that filled me can’t be described.

The city of Minneapolis even started sending out warnings to businesses to let their employees know to stop walking with their heads down and be aware of their surroundings. Increased police presence seemed to help the issue, but what really seemed to stop it was people actually being present with their surroundings. I got in a habit of never walking and doing anything on my phone. I watched my reflections in windows out of the corner of my eye to see if anyone was following me. I started making eye contact with strangers everywhere I went. Luckily for me, I never had an incident like that in the heart of Minneapolis.

With that being said, I’d like to share with you something that happened the week before I went home for Christmas.

I went to a gas station on my way home after completing an all levels class at EVKM. As soon as I pulled in, a man in a sky blue knit hat immediately was interested in my car. He stood on the other side of the gas station in the dark, and he moved quickly to towards my car before I’d even exited. Something felt very “off” about him in general. I skittered inside the gas station and got the door open before he could approach me. Even as I passed by him, his energy felt completely jumpy and nervous. When I went inside to get a bottle of water, I politely asked the gas station attendant if he could come outside with me because there was a man that made me uncomfortable outside.

He looked confused but he said okay. He pushed out the door first with me in tow. The man that I thought had a blue knit hat on, was now crouched as low as he could go in the space behind where the door opened, behind the trash can in a blue SKI MASK, about 5 feet away from the front of my car. Upon seeing the gas station attendant, he went from a crouch to a casual sitting position as he leaned against the wall with his hands folded over his knees, trying to act like he’d just been innocently sitting on the sidewalk.

“What are you doing?” asked the employee.

“Waiting for a friend, man.”

“Waiting for a friend. In the dark, in a ski mask at when it’s 65 degrees. Get out of here NOW or I’m calling the cops!”

I didn’t wait around to hear more. As the above confrontation went on, I got in my car and left. I didn’t know whether to laugh or not, but mostly I felt grateful to follow my instincts and drop my ego enough to ask for help. All I could do when I got home was think about what I would have done if that guy had a weapon? What if he would have grabbed me? I’m still so new to Krav Maga that I’m not even convinced I’d have known what to do, so I’m grateful I didn’t have to put any of my training into use!

No matter which type of martial art or self-defense you utilize, it’s vital you pay attention to your surroundings, trust your gut (it’s usually right), drop your ego (it’s usually wrong), and open up your mouth and say something if something feels “off”. Just because you go to EVKM does not mean that you’re free and clear to assume you’re okay to go anywhere you want and not be present to who and what’s around you. Keep your eyes open, keep your head on a swivel, and avoid using your training unless you absolutely have to.

Stay safe out there and thanks for reading!

Abby Huot is a student at EVKM and is blogging about her Krav Maga journey! To read about her first class check out: My First Krav Maga Class and The Start of a New Adventure!

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