Each week MASTERCLASS gives you brief but key information on how to optimise a simple Krav Maga strike or technique.

This MASTERCLASS covers SURVIVAL AGAINST AN IMPACT WEAPON, for example a baseball bat, iron bar or any extended solid long(er) blunt object.


You will find great variability in defences against impact weapons if you research the topic online or even within Krav Maga self defence. As always, with any technique or defence, it’s important to think critically (read: how will this work in real life under real violence) when you assess these solutions.

A common phenomenon in this type of defence is that it is split into various solutions, e.g. if the impact weapon is aimed downward and high (head), horizontal and medium height (middle body), low (legs, knees) or upward towards any part of the body.

In training, where the trajectory of the weapon is predetermined and the angle preset, this may work fine if the timing is right and the defence is resolute and aggressive. In real life, the target of the impact weapon is NOT known and this must be considered in a solution to this kind of attack.

An impact weapon defence solution needs to be agnostic as to angle of attack e.g. towards head, body, legs, downwards, sideways, upwards (as this is not discernible until the swing is underway) or if one hand or two hand grip.

Why? Check Hick’s Law and the simple principle that action beats reaction. (FOR MORE ON HICK’S LAW: SEARCH ‘LAW’ ON THE HOME PAGE). Multi-solutions against this type of attack - as great as it looks in prescribed and preset training scenarios - don’t work when you cannot ascertain the angle until it’s in motion and visual, before then processing and deciding on the right self defence solution, before execution this counter-attack. All within a fraction of a second.

It simply doesn’t work. Just try pressure testing choosing variable impact weapon solutions.

Pictures: When the impact weapon readied and posed to strike, it‘s not possible to ascertain striking angle and once evident, it’s far too late to recognise, evaluate, decide on and enact a multi-choice response solution.

Our survival solution against an impact weapon is a single counter-attack only, regardless of the targeting of your body. It is aimed at protecting your body as much as possible before your enter inside the trajectory of the weapon as quickly as possible to fight back.

There’s only two places that are safe from the impact weapon if you can’t run and escape the attack. Either away from the reach - or, when this can’t be achieved - as close as possible inside the reach remove the efficiency and the impact of the weapon.

Our survival defence is based on these principles.


Firstly, if possible, keep moving away from the reach of the weapon. The reach is determined by the length of the attacker’s arm and the length of the weapon combined. If the weapon is lowered and not cocked and ready, you will have more time than if the weapon is posed to strike. The opponent should only be able to reach you by stepping closer. The grip (one hand or two hands) is probably decided by the weight and length of the weapon. It’s irrelevant to you as your defence will be the same. What is important, however, is what side the end of the weapon is pointed to (unless lifted/carried across the neck/shoulder) as this is where the attack will come from.

When moving, you have a couple of options. If the weapon is ‘static’ (it’s not being moved across the attacker’s centre of the body, which means the attack can come from either side), you can psychologically present a ‘safer’ or softer part of your body than the head, elbows or outside of knees by doing this: Turn 90° away from the attacker leaving only the side profile to view, so the rear of your boy is on the same side as the weapon, mirroring it. Drop your head down, bend from the solar plexus and keep your hands close to your body. Look towards the attacker by turning head slightly. You now have achieved two objectives; you look placating (avoiding an impact weapon attack is always better than escalating the tension to make it happen) and you’ve presented the softer part of your body as a natural striking target (back of legs, glutes, side of back). When moving, move with small steps, leaving you ready to burst in if and when required. Always move to increase the distance further.

If the weapon is ‘dynamic’, swinging across the attacker’s body, just maintain the same body position, but face the attacker directly on as you cannot ascertain which side the weapon will swing from. If the weapon is first ‘static’, then becomes dynamic’, change body position, but do not change back if the position becomes ‘static’ again as it arises suspicions of trained self defence behaviours.

If the weapon is moving, do not react, as long as you are outside the reach. You’re not in immediate danger yet. If the weapon is not moving and left in a more passive, yet threatening position, e.g. hung down, you have decision to make. Can you deploy the defence now, considering the threat of violence is clearly specific, clear and present?

If the attacker closes the distance to reach you, you must react as you’re now in the danger area - within reach. You’re safer close up. The decision to act here is not determined by the weapon, but by the attacker’s feet, e.g. are they closing the distance. Always be aware of this distinction.

As soon as you see the closing of the distance commencing, push off with the far leg (if weapon is ‘static’ and you’re facing the attacker ‘sideways’ making the biggest possible step with the front leg, moving straight tiaras the centreline of the attacker. If you’re facing the attacker straight on (‘dynamic’ weapon), start the first big step with the leg mirroring (same side) as the end of the weapon. This will move your closest leg as much as possible inside the trajectory of the weapon, if it is aimed towards your legs or knees, taking the power away (lesser the closer to the holding point of the weapon you connect). Keep your upper body and head low, like a sprinter out of the blocks with your hands close to your torso.

Land with your first step and cross with your back leg into a second step, aiming to land very close to the same-side foot of the attacker, so just a slight change of angle with this second step. Maintain the low body and head position with hands close during this step, as you minimise your body target area.

You will now land on the other side of the swinging direction of the weapon, buying a fraction of the second extra by not moving directly towards it. As you land, with your shoulder connecting with the centre torso area of the attacker (like a rugby tackle), you immediately move your back leg forward into a knee strike to the groin (SEE MASTERCLASS: KNEE STRIKE TO THE GROIN) as your hands move out to grab around the mid-section of the attacker (collect the non-weapon arm if you can in the process), with your head now positioned on the outside of their triceps area. Do not interlock your fingers in the grab, just hold firm. If needed, you can do a second knee strike strike or a circular swinging knee strike (actually connecting with the inside of your thigh) to the inside of the thigh to unbalance the attacker and disturb their footing.

After the single or double knee strike, elevate yourself tall by turning 90° towards the attacker so their shoulder is connecting with your centre torso line.

From this position, you have multiple striking options, for example;

Elevate your arm at the back of the attacker to between your heads and attack their eyes with your finger tips by digging these violently in, pressing their head back. Move with the attacker if they move backwards. You can simultaneously lift the hand at the front to strike their throat or jaw. If you strike with the inside of your inside thigh to the back of their hamstring, you will assist a drop backwards. Continue non-stop until the threat is down.

Use the hand at the back of the attacker to conduct open palm strikes to the back of the neck of the attacker (where the neck meets the skull), or alternatively, strike with elbow strikes (SEE MASTERCLASS: ELBOW STRIKES) to the back of the neck, especially if you’re a similar height or taller. If the head drops, switch to knee strikes to the face.

Use your arm at the back of the attacker and drop it down, swinging it upwards between the attacker’s legs to strike the groin from the back (with the inside bony part of your wrist) as you lower yourself as if were doing a deadlift in their gym. After striking, keep the arm under the groin and lift it upwards, simultaneously pushing upwards with your legs and forward with your upper body, as you use your head at the back of the attacker to also push, tipping the attacker forward and then vertically into the floor. (In Krav Maga, this is called a machine gun takedown).

If the attacker is considerably taller, and you cannot reach the neck area, or you’re not strong enough for a takedown, strike upwards with your hand to the front towards their face and throat.

Other striking options and combinations are also available. Principally, you deliver maximum aggression and strikes to vulnerable areas, staying with the attacker so they can’t create room to use their weapon effectively again.

Strike until you can escape or the threat is neutralised. As a potential lethal weapon is deployed, do not hold back with striking options or non-stop aggression.


Start by training the body language and movement in the solution.

Next, practice the run up and targeting of the knee strike. If you have a partner and striking pad at this point, even better.

Work this with different weapon positions (‘static’ and ‘dynamic’) and with timing, e.g. the attacker moves in with a weapon to strike. use a safe (softer) training weapon.

Finally, practice the various striking options. If you can work with different partners, e.g. variable weight and height, you ca start to explore the pros and cons with your options.

Picture:The Krav Maga Master Gheorghe Husar filming with The Krav Maga Educator Orjan Pettersen (right) for online tutorials. ALL VIDEOS ARE AVAILABLE IN OUR ONLINE LEARNING AND COURSES AT WWW.SPARTANS-EDU.ORG.

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