Applying Self-Defense Thinking to Shows and Movies

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Attitude, Hollywood-lesson, Video

Since I started training in Krav Maga a few years ago, I find myself engaging in a fun and educational activity. While watching fights break out on TV or in the movies I’d be thinking about what a particular character did well or maybe what they should/could have done differently for potentially a better outcome. I am thinking in terms of avoiding the conflict, defusing the conflict, or — when it’s too late and it’s going down — what they should have done to end the fight. It’s an interesting way to spark a discussion about Krav Maga and self-defense in general. And heck, these days, violence being so prevalent in our media, there are so many opportunities to do so.

Case in point, if you are a watcher of the show, last night’s episode of the Walking Dead featured a scene with our hero (now becoming anti-hero) Rick Grimes finding himself in a knock-down, drag-out rock ‘n’ party in the streets with Alexandria resident wife abuser/alcoholic Pete Anderson. See below.

A couple of thoughts. First off, hats off to the folks bringing us this show for its realism. This isn’t a fight where the good guy decks the bad guy with some excessively loud Hollywood-style punches and walks away unscathed. Not does our good guy get in a couple of licks in, get predictably beaten down, only to eventually triumph. This fight is a messy, dirty, back-and-forth fight that is anything but pretty. Neither guy is “on top” and you aren’t really sure at any given point how it’s going to turn out. Such is the case in the real world. We can train all we want with clean technique, absolute control, impressive kicks, and so on…but at the end of the day, when a fight does happen, it is likely brutal, ugly, and wild.

What do we see in this quick clip that we can talk about and perhaps learn from?

  1. Choke from the Ground While Mounted (0:25).  Here’s a great opportunity to pluck those hands and ‘buck, trap, and roll’ them over. This would be a pretty painful experience for both parties. Guy on top (attacker) is going in for a hard landing on the pavement — maybe even hitting their head — and will soon be realizing that that was the least of their problems. The guy on bottom is going to get their knees knocked up on the pavement and no doubt have some pesky pebbles lodged in his leg, as always seems to happen. With the advantage of being on the top position though, this is a small price to pay.
  2. Read Hammerfist (0:27) – Forgetting for a second that this part of the scene is a horrific and cowardly attack on a woman, think abstractly about the physical situation. You in guard attacking your enemy on the ground and a third party comes from behind to pull you off, or attacks you. You look behind you and swing that hammerfist back, knowing full well that you are briefly taking your eyes and attention off the ground threat and need to get back to that situation pronto. In multiple attacker scenarios though, it’s all about attacking the primary threat. Someone attacking from behind, in this case, qualifies as that and must be addressed. Back to the point about Pete attacking his wife as she tries to break up the brawl. In my opinion, there are not enough back things that can happen to Pete in the fight from that point on.
  3. Headlock from Ground (from Behind) — bad news (0:49). You never want to be on the ground in a fight. If you are, the worse place to be while on the ground is in a headlock  (choke) with your attacker behind you. With a strong attacker, especially one who is bigger or maybe has wrestled or done some BJJ, this is a helpless position to be in. Helpful aids to get you back on your feet and in control include driving your head back, flailing your arms and feet, and generally fighting your way out of it as quickly and violently as possible. This is no time to be thinking about your situation and trying to formulate the “perfect escape”. If the attacker closes in boa constrictor style and starts squeezing there is little you can do and you have a very short time before blacking out. Add a second attacker into the mix and all sorts of bad elements get added to the situation, most of which leave a mark. Don’t stop moving and don’t pause for even an instant in your spastic attempts to get free.
  4. Gun from Front (1:15).  The scene cuts out abruptly at this point but suffice it to say, Rick is on his knees and brandishing a gun at people. There are a lot of ways that this could end badly, most of them involving the people on the business end of the firearm. How could you get out of this one? As with most things, I think it depends so much on the specifics of the situation. If you can’t run away or get on the other side of something to protect you, it’s going to be all about reasoning with the attacker while you either a) wait for help or b) try to get within reach of the weapon to attempt a disarm. These are both horrible options, I know, but if you watched the show, you know that help did arrive in the form of Rick getting cold cocked from behind. Barring the possibility that you have teleportation abilities, these options are about how good as it could get. If you can get within reach of the gun, this is a case of disarming with the Gun from the Front defense, making sure to redirect the line of fire away from others (remember, there are lots of bystanders in that clip!). Tricky situation and not one I’d wish on anyone.

So what do you think? Did you take any lessons from this clip or any of the rest of that Walking Dead episode?

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