Self Defense Techniques

Natural Reflexes As a base to Self Defense Techniques

When an animal is startled, it will choose either way of actions; freeze or flee. In both scenarios the primer physical reaction will be an intense contraction of the muscles, especially in the abdomen area, holding its breath, pulse accelerating etc.

A new born, despite not having the motor ability to flee, will physically react in the same manor, using reflexes it is equipped with from birth meant for its survival.

A reflex is defined as an involuntary reaction of the body to external stimulation. This reaction is generally used for survival purposes. Babies are born with certain skills, enabling them to protect themselves from threats in their close surroundings. Most reflexes disappear at six month old. The uniqueness of reflexes is that unlike voluntary actions, they are not processed through the human brain. The reflexes we are born with are as followed:

  • Rooting Reflex: This reflex is most evident when we stroke an infants' cheek. The baby will respond by turning its head in the direction of the touch and opening its mouth for feeding.
  • Gripping Reflex: Babies will grasp anything that is placed in their palm. The strength of this grip is strong, and most babies can support their entire weight in their grip.
  • Babkin reflex: if you squeeze the baby's hands, he will open his or her mouth. Toe
  • Curling Reflex: When the inner sole of a baby’s foot is stroked, the infant will respond by curling his or her toes. When the outer sole of a baby’s foot is stroked, the infant will respond by spreading out their toes.
  • Stepping Reflex: When an infant is held upright with his or her feet placed on a surface, he or she will lift their legs as if they are marching or stepping.
  • Sucking Reflex: The sucking reflex is initiated when something touches the roof of an infant's mouth. Infants have a strong sucking reflex which helps to ensure they can latch onto a bottle or breast. This reflex enables babies to suck, swallow and breathe simultaneously.
  • Startle/Moro Reflex: Infants will respond to sudden sounds or movements by throwing their arms and legs out, and throwing their heads back. Most and then proceed to pull their limbs back into their bodies as if they were trying to latch on to something to protect themselves.
  • Galant Reflex: The Galant reflex is shown when an infant's middle or lower back is stroked next to the spinal cord. The baby will respond by curving his or her body toward the side which is being stroked.
  • Tonic Neck Reflex: The tonic neck reflex is demonstrated in infants who are placed on their abdomens. Whichever side the child’s head is facing, the limbs on that side will straighten, while the opposite limbs will curl Balance reflex: when you place a baby on its back in water or when its head tilts back, the baby will try over and over to lift its head upright to a safer position.
  • Swallowing reflex: if for some reason water will penetrate to an infant's mouth, this reflex will engage into action and prevent water from penetrating the trachea (windpipe) and lungs by involuntary blocking the trachea. This reflex does not prevent the fluids from penetrating the esophagus.
  • Diving reflex: this is a combination of several reflexes influencing the cardiac system in various levels. During a dive the lungs stop breathing, the blood flow is slowed down and heart beats are slowed accordingly. All this occurs in order to preserve the existing oxygen level in the body till the dive is over. This reflex is also active in infants when you only wet their faces.

Krav Maga self defense techniques originate from this evolutionary heredity. These natural abilities are an excellent source for the development of self defense techniques among adults. Therefore, Krav Maga attempts to identify what these natural reflexes provide us and to build self defense techniques around them as voluntary reactions to attacks and varied dangerous situations. Natural reflexes have developed over time so those who have not acquired them have ceased to exist. I.E.; Babies who broke their fingers while still in the womb died at birth; however, healthy newborns that did develop the natural gripping reflex survived to pass it on to future generations. Reflexes were developed in human beings through evolution, coincidence and other godly elements we are unable to understand. Self defense techniques evolving from natural reflexes are therefore very simple: Once you have recognizes the primal reflex Krav Maga gives gradual response to the immediate danger and then to the next and so on, I.E.; When attacked by an assaulter holding a knife the reflex response of the body is to lift up hand in attempt to block the knife and protect the head; the body shrinks and you the attackee will shriek in panic. Krav Maga trains to react as follows:

  1. Out of this natural human reaction we will lift one arm to block the attack in the same manner as described in the Moro reflex and shout out a battle cry to exhale and psychologically deal with fear.
  2. Next there is still danger of another stab so the attacker must be addressed as the next immediate danger. You will do that by hitting him on to his face.
  3. Next danger ahead is that the attacker might recover and try to use the knife again so at this point you will take control over his armed hand.
  4. Continue to strike the attacker's face and body in the most natural way using whatever free limbs you have to prevent him from releasing his armed hand from your grip.
  5. Next you will disarm him from the knife.
  6. Then back out of the area while making sure there are no other attackers in site.
  7. Last, flee to safety avoiding any other danger or laws officer who may misinterpreted the situation.

Keeping these simple principles in mind, Krav Maga has made Self defense techniques available for everyone; based on natural movements, deriving from basic reflexes.

Avi Moyal
IKMF Chairman and Head Instractor


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