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Just F***ing Hit Him!

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain speaks to the Krav Maga instructors hoping their Israeli self-defence techniques will make the streets of Dublin a bit safer

A few months ago in Galway, a man attacked me. He came at me from behind and choked me. He was very strong. I came close to losing consciousness as he squeezed my trachea. Just as it seemed hopeless, I managed to make enough wriggle room for my head to turn just slightly. I sank my teeth into his arm. He screamed in agony and relaxed his grip. This was all I needed. I spun around and attacked his eyes, ears and throat. I must have looked like something from a wildlife film.

A second man was standing a few feet away, smiling serenely like a Tibetan monk. His face beamed approval. After all, I had done exactly as he had asked.

“Nice shred, Phil,” said Patrick Cumiskey.

Patrick is one of the few qualified Krav Maga instructors in Ireland. Meaning ‘contact fight,’ this method of self-defence was originally developed for the Israeli defence forces in the 1930s, and is now taught to military and law-enforcement personnel the world over.

Over those two days in Galway, an entirely new lexicon of gutter fighting was introduced to me. Now when I hear ‘Shredder’ and ‘Crazy Monkey,’ my reflexes react.

Patrick has taught these no-nonsense techniques to the Irish Army Ranger Wing as well as the US Navy SEALs and Delta Force. The essential ethos of Krav Maga is – don’t be a victim. If you doubt yourself in a fight, then you’re outnumbered. It teaches us to use the human body’s natural weapons and reflexes under pressure. The basics can literally be learned, and remembered, in a couple of days.

Whenever we couldn’t remember the sequence of moves, Patrick would ask, “What will you do?”
The answer, in unison: “Just fucking hit him!”

Our instructor smiled like a proud parent.

Back in Dublin, I met a colleague of Patrick’s, Rachel Nolan, originally from Mayo. This 24-year-old business studies graduate cheerfuly describes herself as a “combat chick.” She is working towards full qualification as a Krav Maga instructor. Together, Rachel and Patrick are developing a course known as Female Counter Assault Training. She is convinced that FCAT – Krav Maga tailored specifically to females – will give women the confidence, awareness and skills to deal with life-threatening situations.

“Research shows,” says Rachel, “that if a woman fights back against her attacker, then she has a 98 per cent chance of escaping. The man who attacks a woman usually has a sexual motive; he has a movie in his head about how the whole thing will go. He is expecting a passive victim. If the woman fights back, she changes the script. It spoils the movie!”

The next two-day Krav Maga course will take place on August 8th-9th, and a one-day FCAT course will be held on September 26th. Bow Lane, off St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. 087 239 0398,

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