ISRAELI MARTIAL ARTS
MISTAKES IN GUN DISARMING!
by Uri Kaffe with Avi Nardia
Gun disarming is one of
the most important skills you want
to obtain when training in a martial
art that claims to be about self-defense.
Now that reality based martial arts have become extremely popular,
many so called reality based instructors have started to show
knife/gun disarming techniques without realizing that they contain
deadly mistakes that can get their students killed!
I asked my friend and teacher Avi Nardia to talk
about the subject of gun disarming. Avi Nardia is a former intelligence
team member and CQB instructor of
the Yamam, Israel's premier counter-terror (takeover) unit, equivalent
to the U.S. Delta Force and F.B.I Hostage Rescue Team (Matkal
and Yamam are the only Israeli special force units; all others
are assistance units). Avi Nardia’s Israeli CQB system,
also known as Kapap, has been recognized by Jim Wagner, founder
of Reality Based Martial Arts, as the first Israeli Reality Based
system. Avi is one of the top instructors of CQB Defensive Tactics
in the Israeli Army and Police, and I think the only Israeli martial
arts instructor in the world who
was an official instructor of the Israeli Army, Police and Special
In his 24 years of experience, he earned the
rank of major in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and trained
armed forces all over the world, including SWAT, SRT, SERT teams,
special forces, corrections officers, Army and Marine units and
counter terror units. To this day, he is a CQB trainer in the
IDF Reserves, as well as a Reserve Police Sniper.
As we met he smiled, took off his shoes and began to tell me
about Israeli CQB and martial arts. He started with his basic
Any weapon – one mind
Always a student, sometimes a teacher
Better to remain a student of reality
than a master of illusion
Knives never run out of ammo or jam,
that’s why edged weapon are the most dangerous
The Israeli CQB Art of Kapap has been written in special ink,
called blood. The knowledge came from experience, many times
by making tragic mistakes, then studying the results to understand
what needs to be done the next time. Unfortunately, Israel is
the most experienced nation in the world when it comes to Terror,
and that is why it has developed one of the most valued CQB
training systems in the world.
CQB is about evaluation and evolution.
A few hundred years ago, archery
was a combat tool, while today
it has evolved into a traditional
martial art (i.e. Kyudo, Zen and
the Way of Archery). An arrow is
an edged weapon, which is projected
to a target, using a bow, allowing
the fighter to attack his enemy
from a distance. A bullet, while
not exactly an edged weapon, is
projected to the target, by means
of gunpowder, allowing the fighter
to attack his enemy from a distance.
Guns are the archery of modern
times and we see them as an integral
part of modern Israeli martial
arts. And let’s not forget
that when you disarm a gun you
must know how to retain it and
use it later.
Israeli CQB training owes its development to many names. Though
most are missing from any list you will find (and never declared
them self as “Masters “), all have donated to the
art, and no individual can claim sole ownership. To understand
more, research names such as Hanna Senesh, Solomon Aruch (as
shown in the film Triumph of the Spirit), Meir Har Tzion, 11
Olympic Athletes massacred in Munich, Daniel Pearl and Ron Arad.
If you don’t understand the roots and culture you won’t
In Kapap we don`t bow and don`t give belts, since this is the
way of Japanese martial arts and culture, not Israeli. Actually,
according to Jewish (and also Muslim) culture, we are not allowed
to bow unless it is to God, whereas in Japanese culture bowing
is a part of saying hello.
Official instructors in the army and police never awarded belts.
Either you are the student or the instructor. If you are the
student you don`t need a belt - you need to be empty to get
it all, and if you think you are a black belt you missed the
point of CQB. An army or police teacher will often find himself
teaching one day and fighting alongside his students the next.
The most valued part of Israeli CQB is the fighting spirit,
just as in traditional martial arts. Traditional and modern
CQB such as Kapap are the same and work side by side.
Kapap was the first CQB training
introduced in Israeli history and
was based on stick fighting, knives,
guns, and hand-to-hand and even
stone throwing in the old days.
The idea of any CQB is fight with
what you have at hand…
One day I was asked what is the best gun? And I answered that
it is the gun that you have in your hand when you need it. That
is also the main idea behind Israeli CQB. Today, there are people
claim to own it or be the sole representative, when they actually
know very little and have never even set foot in Israeli Martial
arts, and they are giving Israeli arts a bad image among serious
Evaluation and evolution must be done for every technique to
see if it fits our aims. Kapap is based on evaluating a technique
to determine whether it can be done by any solider (for civilians,
whether it can be done by the weakest man or woman). It needs
to be easy to teach (there could be a better technique but if
you don’t have years to train it, start with an easier
one). You look for simple, fast techniques to study and remember.
The importance of this point was emphasized to me recently when
I had the pleasure of meeting one of the first Kapap instructors
in Israel, Abe Drori, who lives in Los Angeles. At the age of
70, he suddenly found himself facing a 45 magnum in a downtown
LA alley. He used an old Kapap technique and disarmed the assailant.
Another important consideration is liability. When teaching
military CQB, you can stay in the killing zone, but for a civilian,
after disarming a knife you don`t want to kill the guy and go
to jail. When teaching police CQB, there are other considerations.
Any police defensive tactics program must be approved legally,
medically and politically. You don`t want to turn on your television
and see a policeman kicking someone.
Two years ago I introduced the
Kapap system to the American public,
since I didn’t like the commercial
way in which Israeli martial arts
were being presented to civilians.
More importantly, since the people
claiming to teach it were never
instructors in the Israeli army,
police or secret service, the “Israeli” martial
arts being taught were full of
mistakes and many times were being
taught as fitness. Israeli martial
arts are not some kind of popular
aerobic kickboxing, they are martial
arts of self defense!!
When someone is going to kick you,
your life is not at risk, only
your ego…but when someone
pulls a knife or gun on you, you
need to know how, when and if to
Let’s get back to Gun Disarming. You have seven basic
points basic for gun disarming.
First and foremost is Luck…sometimes you can do every
thing right and you die…that’s because life is
different than what we think we know. In reality, anything can
happen and even if you don`t make a mistake something can surprise
you. For example, in the September 11 report there was Israeli
former Special Forces man named Daniel Levin (rest in peace
)who was flying on a business trip on one of the flights. When
the terrorists acted he jumped on one of them and start to fight
with him, as most Israelis would do, since their mindset is
to fight a terrorist and not to sit back and wait. Another terrorist
that was sitting there as a sleeper stabbed him in his back
and he became the first victim of September 11 and got his act
mentioned in the September 11 official report. So even when
you operate correctly, life can surprise you.
I have a friend who is a Lotar instructor at
the Army who jumped on a suicide
bomber and arrested him alive. When he told me how he did it
I was amazed that he didn’t
die in the attempt. So many times
we talk about luck…and
The second point is the Field of Fire – that is understanding
the direction and distance or point of fire of the weapon, as
well as the distance or range in which the ammunition can cause
harm, including ricochettes. You can’t disarm a shotgun
as you would a handgun -the ammo is different. Many times I
see “experts “ moving the shoot gun aside but they
are still within the field of fire, and that’s the last
place you want to be.
3. Understanding Gun Technology
Understanding the weapon and how
it is utilized. Remember edged weapons never run out of ammo
but guns do. Firearms can jam or malfunction. With proper
instruction you can learn techniques to effectively cause
a weapon’s malfunction while disarming an attacker.
It is for this reason an understanding of a firearm’s
mechanism is of paramount importance. You should be able to
understand and identify the differences between a revolver
and a semi automatic weapon; the difference between a Handgun
and a Shotgun or rifle. Also don`t forget that after you disarm
the gun it is in your hand now. Since you don`t want to start
grappling with your enemy, who may be stronger than you, you
need to know how to use it. You need to be very good with
guns since the weapon you now have in your hand may not be
the one you would choose to buy in a store…it’s
the gun your enemy had. For this reason, all of my students,
from a certain level, must have experience shooting with a
variety of weapons. We hold special training sessions at a
shooting range with different shooting scenarios. I teach
them to clean any jam under stress and to make the gun function.
I also teach liability issues when shooting - for example
you don`t want to shoot an enemy if he is escaping ( as civilian
4. Situation Evaluation
Evaluate in an attempt to control
the psychological aspect of your situation. Focus and stay
in control of your emotions. For most students, training is
required to stay calm and focused internally in spite of your
outward appearance. Your body language can easily escalate
an already emotionally charged situation. The attacker’s
body language can provide clues as to his intentions. You
must train to begin an understanding of techniques in attempting
to control the situation verbally and physically. You must
evaluate the attacker. Is he a punk kid that is very excited
and seemingly inexperienced or is he a professional criminal
that is under control? Understand that if you see the weapon,
it is probable the attacker does not have the intention to
just shoot, the attacker wants something. This behavior on
the part of the attacker can allow you valuable moments, giving
you the time to make choices. To defend or not to defend.
Also if he asks only for money never fight back - give him
your money and stay alive!! You fight only if your life or
your family’s is at risk. The graveyards are full of
Understand and train in the use of
Timing. You must learn to utilize timing to your advantage.
If your evaluated decision or only option is to attempt to
disarm an attacker, you must move quickly, decisively and
unsuspectingly to control and take the weapon away, like a
magician that is trying to make a watch disappear off of someone’s
6. Situational Awareness
Possess awareness of your surrounding
environment. You must be aware of your surroundings at all
times. An attacker seeks the unaware and unsuspecting. In
every surrounding, make mental notes of potential escape routes,
items that can be used as weapons and other people that will
be placed in harms way should a threat or conflict arise.
In the case of an attacker with a firearm, you must pay attention
to where the bullet will be discharged if fired. Either as
a law enforcement officer with your partner or a civilian
with a bystander or family member, you must know where others
are located when moving the weapon.
7. Post Conflict Details and Preconflict
Be ready for the post conflict. It
has been found that people who have been attacked often do
not remember the face of the attacker even though they were
looking right at it. Remain calm and remember to visualize
and take mental notes of details. Try to take a mental photograph
of the attacker’s face, clothes, weapon, and any distinguishing
marks on the person’s body or vehicle.
In conclusion we need to point out the key elements essential
to these points are awareness, timing, speed and understanding
distance. You must pay very close attention to controlling the
weapon before any additional strikes or action. Once the weapon
is truly in your control then you can strike multiple targets
as your style and situation delegates. You must practice the
techniques with each hand as well as under different types of
stress levels i.e. cardio intensive workouts. Also change lighting
and environments to follow real world scenarios. Proper and
continued training in these basic points of firearm defense
may very well make the difference between life and death when
faced with real world threats.
And remember, as all martial arts teach, the art of war is
the preconflict stage. If you can, stay away from conflicts
by avoiding the scene of conflict (e.g. girls, don`t go to up
to Mike Tyson’s hotel room after midnight …). The
best defense is to avoid the conflict!!!