By: Jeff Mount

Krav Maga training is all about training transitions. Students must transition from non-ready to ready positions, defending to counter-attacking, kicking to punching and back again. Students must transition directionally, verbally, and physiologically. An individual who is defending themselves might need to transition from fight to flight and back again, depending on the scenario. For law enforcement or military personnel, students may need to practice transitioning from unarmed to armed defense. In a multiple attacker situation, a defender will transition from one attacker to the next. Fighting is, at its core, a game of transitions. Whoever can make the right number of transitions more smoothly, quicker, and decisively will often win the fight.

I got to thinking about this by reading some historical content that I didn’t expect would apply to Krav Maga. Maurice was a 6th century Byzantine emperor who, prior to ruling an empire, was a very successful general. He wrote the Strategikon, which served as the empire’s primary military manual and has come down in history as providing vital insight into Byzantine warfare. On the first page, in a section entitled, “The Training and Drilling of an Individual Soldier”, he writes

On horseback at a run he should fire one or two arrows rapidly and put the strung bow in its case, if it is wide enough, or in a half-case designed for this purpose, and then he should grab the spear which he has been carrying on his back. With the strung bow in its case, he should hold the spear in his hand, then quickly replace it on his back, and grab the bow. It is a good idea for the soldiers to practice all this while mounted, on the march in their own country.

The first thing Maurice had to say as a renowned wartime general of one of history’s largest empires was essentially this: practice transitioning between two different weapons. Practice it at high speed, while on horseback. Practice it all the time, while going from Point A to Point B. Practice transitioning.

Here’s the thing – we tend to really like being good at one thing at a time. In MMA, proficient strikers like to practice striking while grapplers practice grappling. And sometimes a striker will practice grappling or vice versa. But only someone who NEEDS to be proficient at both in the same context will practice constant transitions between the two. A close friend of mine, a federal law enforcement officer and talented marksman, noted that in law enforcement training, the defensive tactics instructors and the firearms instructors would rarely talk previously, and training of various force levels was integrated even less. Now, with the intense scrutiny law enforcement officers are under, the transition from verbal contact to less lethal to lethal means to arrest/control procedures and back is going to be more important than ever.

So what transitions do you need to practice? How might you be avoiding the hard work of combining two disciplines? Where can you go for coaching, not just on this skill set or that, but on the transition between the two?

Rachel Parker