The initial, normal, human reaction under stress in an urban warfare environment was the basis of self defense tactics taught to a group of U.S. Army South Soldiers during a three-day captivity avoidance course held July 16-18 at the STW Krav Maga gym in San Antonio. The only rule in this extremely aggressive self defense program is to go home safe.
Krav Maga, a Hebrew word meaning "contact combat," is a non-competitive defensive tactic system developed and used by the Israeli Defense Forces to be able to come up with an instinctive reaction defense so that regardless of age, gender or level of fitness, a person can learn this system in a relatively short period of time, about 10-12 weeks.
"Army South has an area of responsibility that gives them a work commute into Central and South America and the Caribbean," said Col. (Ret.) Rick Bassett, a student instructor who recently retired from Army South after 30 years of service to the Army. "These Soldiers become targets for captivity whether they want to be or not."
One of the principals to Krav Maga is to end a fight as quickly as possible and therefore is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient, brutal counter-attacks to the face, neck, groin, knees and eyes as well as constantly striking and kicking to get loose from an attacker.
Krav Maga teaches students how to defend against attacks from behind, while blindfolded and in tight, confined spaces such as vehicles and up against walls. The system is comprised of eight progressively difficult levels. Training for level one can be completed in about 10-12 weeks.
According to said Pete Hardy, owner and chief instructor of the STW Krav Maga Gym, this particular class is ideal for any government employee that is going to go out of the country and into a hostile environment, armed or unarmed, to give them skills that if they are possibly a target for being kidnapped, they have the skills to prevent that from happening.
"This class enhances SERE (Survival Evade Resist Escape) training, its survival and resistance," said John Sanders, personnel recovery for Army South. "It's a great workout and it keeps you on your toes. I hope I never have to use it, but if I do, it will be instinct."
Hardy is extremely passionate about his job that he teaches every day. Over his past 15 years as an instructor, people have come back to him to let him know they had to use these techniques, which saved their life.
"Showing people they have the ability to get out of a dark place, like a survivor, saves lives by giving them a level of confidence that they've never had before," said Hardy.
"The message I want to get out about Krav Maga is that we are not a sport system, we are a survival system," said Hardy. "We put no limitations on you what so ever on how to survive an attack where it's probably going be an attack that's going to put you in the hospital or end your life."