By Andrew Chan, Krav Maga Systems Instructor - Perth Australia
One of the best quotes I've come across in krav maga self-defence is as follows:
"In Krav Maga, we say that fighting for your life is no game, so you have to discard all notions of fair play". -David Kahn
To me, this quote beautifully puts into context the attitude you need to survive. Attitude/mindset is a skill just as important as any technique you'll learn. Having the right balance in attitude is vital to your functionality and survivability.There are one of two extremes you don't want to be when dealing with a life-threatening problem. Firstly, you don't want to be a doormat and allow people to walk over you. (This is different from being submissive but that's another story). If you do so in self-defence, don't be surprised if you end up dead, raped, or hanging from a noose.
Secondly, you also don't want to be a bloodthirsty killer. Guys like this use disproportionate force, are a cause for concern and will probably end up in jail.
So what's the attitude we should have?
We need to be able to turn our aggression on and off to a level that's proportionate to the situation. This means that you match the attacker's aggression and be willing to go just far enough to send them the message that you're not worth the trouble (that could be done through technically and physically overpowering them, or it could be your sheer will that puts them on the back foot). Never make it easy for someone to make you their target for violence.
Picture this: You're in the street, minding your own business, being fairly relaxed (but alert). Suddenly, someone or a group of people decide to make you the target of their violent needs. The situation is nothing short of life-threatening. You have to make quick and decisive action. You know you need to burst into an offensive attitude. Your training kicks in and you deal with the situation. The situation is neutralised. You scan the area and leave.
In this context, you have no time to think. You have to go from a defensive/relaxed state of mind to an offensive one. I like to call this attitude the 'aggression switch'. You need to hone this attitude and be able to literally turn in on and off like a switch. It's not practical for it to always be on or always be off. When the situation calls for it, you need to utilise this attitude.
When that switch turns on you discard all notions of fair play and as quickly and as effectively as possible, you deal with the threat (Kick the attacker in the groin, gouge his eyes, pick up that weapon, whatever). Once the threat and other threats are neutralised (meaning it no longer exists or your no longer in a position to be harmed), the switch goes off.
So, how do you know when to turn the switch on? You can't go around ready to snap at the first guy that looks at you sideways. You have to work out where the line is that people need to cross before the switch goes on. Sit down and work out your own boundaries, get to know yourself and develop emotional self-awareness. Prepare yourself before you're forced to make that decision when it's too late.