ISRAELI HAGANAH COMBAT SYSTEM
The core self-defense fighting system is called "Haganah" a
Hebrew term meaning "defense."
Israel, a country that has had to deal with urban warfare and close
quarters combat since its formation nearly 55 years ago, Haganah is
a word that evokes powerful remembrances. These are memories of a
group of freedom fighters vastly outnumbered and ill equipped, the
'Haganah' successfully defeated better-equipped adversaries to establish
the State of Israel. The Haganah ultimately became the IDF,Israel's
current military force.
Today, Haganah is a unique self-defense system that integrates both
unarmed and armed combat tactics and applies them to the needs of
civilian and professional operators.
It simply and powerfully combines the self-defense and fighting
styles of Israel with tactics called LOTAR, currently being taught
in IDF Special Forces Units. Other systems may focus on stand-up fighting,
ground fighting, or armed combat. Haganah-true to its military heritage-gets
its power by teaching how to fight and win in every scenario.
Haganah teaches in the classroom, on DVD/VHS video series and in
its book, FIGHT TO SURVIVE, how to "contain,control and demolish" the
opponent. The aggressiveness and confidence experienced students possess
is obvious to people considering enrolling in the program.
Continual enhancement is the one factor that makes the Haganah system
so effective, it constantly evolves to meet the requirements of the
always changing elements of real combat. Haganah instructors remain
up to date with the training of Mike Kanarek, and Mitkan Adam, the
IDF's counter-terrorism school,and are constantly putting what they
learn to use. They then bring their combat experience into the system.
This occurs regularly. There is no ego in the system. It uses what
The Haganah system structure consist of two components. The first
component is called F.I.G.H.T. (Fierce Israeli Guerilla Hand-to-Hand
Tactics) and contains hand-to-hand, empty hand verses knife and gun,
and ground survival elements. The second is an armed-combat component
which includes Israeli Tactical Knife Fighting and Israeli Combat
Haganah and F.I.G.H.T. basic training principles are simple. Avoid,escape,demolish.
If you can, escape an escalating situation. If you are attacked and
cannot immediately escape, do not assume you can judge your attacker's
ultimate intent. Therefore, demolish the attacker. Be measured in
your response only when choosing how the fight will finally end. Bring
the opponent in, jam his attack,contain control,demolish. Students
are drilled to create a mindset that reacts to a violent assault by
immediately switching from a victim to a predatory aggressor.
Every touch is designed to create damage. Every tactic has both
a defensive and offensive element. Techniques are overlapped to "short-circuit" and
overwhelm the attacker. There are no rules of engagement. Every technique
builds on instinctive responses. Strength doesn't matter.
Understand other systems and recognize their application in an engagement.
Exploit their weaknesses. Stay up to date and keep enhancing what
you do based upon real life experience. This system is designed to
enable all of these things to occur.
The teaching approach is designed to mirror militay style teaching
while recognizing the time demands and typical fitness levels of the
working adult. It presents virtually the entire content of the system-hand-to-hand,
knife defenses, gun disarms, ground fighting- in a few hours per week
over a four month cycle, called a "rotation." The rotation
repeats itself three times a year. Four months is quick, but the hand-to-hand
combat component of military boot camp doesn't last more than a couple
of weeks worth of hours and you are ready for the fight of your life
at the programs end. Depending on a students background, within 2
or 3 rotations they can become quite proficient.
This rapid comprehensive training is possibe because the hand-to-hand,
empty hand against the knife components use limited core techinques
and a process known as technique funneling. No fight is a blueprint,
so different initial attacks require different initial responses.
But the system has identified four common positions that can be achieved
for nearly all attacks within one to three moves, regardless of the
Haganah calls these carefully tested positions of control and dominance"points
of reference." The funneling effect of the system is designed
to bring the opponent to the points of reference. From each of the
four points of reference,students are taught virtually identical sequences
of strikes (called "objective" options) to be used to restrain,
incapacitate or terminate the attacker. This vastly reduces the number
of techniques a student must become capable of,making learning and
muscle memory programming (reactive programming) very fast.
Within a few weeks students become very proficient at executing
each of the three objective options and they are programmed into muscle
memory. That frees students from the "what do I do next?" anxiety
that can take years to overcome when learning a new system. This enables
students to quickly focus on and devote maximum time to programming
their bodies to react automatically with proper entry techniques when
attacked and to gain dominance by reaching the point of reference.
This process occurs through application of 18 core hand-to-hand and
10 core knife defenses and 10 core gun disarm scenarios. Students
defend against these scenarios repeatedly, indoors and outdoors, in
light and darkness and with different size and experience level opponents.
In a four month rotation, attending twice a week, a student has practiced
the fight ending sequences from the point of reference forward about
1,0000 times; each core hand to hand, gun disarm and knife defense
scenario a couple dozen times. If the student attends on Saturday
for 2 hours, they can cover the entire ground survival program, tactical
knife program and begin the combat shooting program during the same
four month rotation. More rotations translate into reduced reaction
time and quicker, more correct entry trechniques.
As we all know in combat things don't always go as planned. That's
where the Haganah funnel techniques excels. By designing its techniques
around the points of reference, Haganah accommodates many situations
and practitioneer skill levels. The point of reference becomes a familiar
and comfortable place. Regardless of how the fight started or whether
the initial self-defense reaction was even correct, all Haganah practitioners
battle to get quickly to one of those landmark positions. They seek
that familiar place in an unfamiliar landscape where they can be completely
confident they can find their way home, no matter how long or little
they have trained. Once they reach that position the adversary is
Part of Haganah's philosophy of continual enhancement is to use
modern tools to support effective learning. All of the sessions taught
during the four month period in each of the components of the system
exist in manuals,on VHS and DVD. Students reinforce their knowledge
and accelerate programming time by previewing the material before
class and by reviewing and practicing the material between classes.
The video component is identical to the material presented in class,
so there is nothing lost in the translation from classroom practice
to at home (or on the job) practice. It's time for martial arts and
self-defense training to use the same tools that other formal education
systems have found so effective; structured video presentations among
them. In order to learn throughly and quickly, adults need to review
material repeatedly, especially if they have no other martial arts
background. Video supported training helps them reduce their anxiety
level, learn faster and stick with the program.
In some self-defense systems, empty-hand defenses against weapons
are taught without regard for the student's familiarity with weapons.
Not in Haganah, while Haganah teaches gun disarms as taught in LOTAR,
Israel's military counterterrorist training, it doesn't typically
teach a student gun disarms without having them hold a real gun, rack
the slide, and understand various safety mechanisims. We want them
to be aware of the extent of their knowledge or lack of it. We want
them to be confident in their techniques, but we also want them to
understand what the tactical situation will be after they get the
gun. Haganah students can elect to take the Combat Shooting component
of the system or not, but at least they'll know the basics.
Likewise, with knives the system teaches empty-hand defenses against
the knifeattacks, but many students also take Tactical Knife Fighting.
They learn what a skilled knife fighter might do in an attack and
understand thoroughly the complexity of defending against the knife.
For that reason, many students choose to carry tactical folders where
legally permitted to do so, and the students that don't at least feel
more prepared by simply acquiring the knowledge of what an encounter
with a skilled knife fighter might involve.
At some level, it's about intelligence gathering. In the military,
the key to surviving an engagement is often good intelligence. It's
the same in the street. We focus on integrating training that brings
our students a clear understanding of the adversary. Whether it is
teaching them the knife or teaching them likely tactics used by practitioners
of other popular fighting styles, it all serves to make them more
capable of defending themselves. From all perspectives, Haganah is
a complete hardcore fighting system of combat proven tactics from
a place that has always had the need---Israel.