How do you protect another person?



One of Australia’s top Krav Maga instructors explains how to tackle a situation where you need to protect another person rather than just yourself.

White enters from the side and clears the knife while taking the attacker off balance

How do you protect a friend or family member already being attacked? Specifically, how should you enter and leave the fight safely?

Adam White is one of the most experienced Krav Maga instructors in Australia, having trained in such places as Israel, Thailand, Poland and Hungary. He was awarded the rank of Expert Level 2 from his instructor, Mr Eyal Yanilov, the chief instructor of Krav Maga Global, in Israel in 2010.

As well as teaching regular classes in Newcastle, White has taught Krav Maga at workshops/seminars and camps in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne, with civilians and members of the police and military forces. He holds a Civilian Instructor Certificate, Military Instructor Certificate and Law Enforcement Instructor Certificate. He is also a member of the International Training team for KMG.

One of the first basic principles that students learn in Krav Maga is ‘Do not get hurt’. When presented the option of whether to protect someone, you need to consider the dangers or risk of injury to you and to others. This definitely applies when helping others who have no connection with you, or those you have no legal (e.g. duty of care) or moral obligation to assist. If you do decide to assist another person in a potentially escalating violent confrontation, then Krav Maga has some basic tactics and principles that may assist. (To make it easier, I will call the third person ‘the victim’, and the person who helps the third person ‘the rescuer’.)

The first principle of defending yourself and/or others is to be aware of your environment and the people within it. This may include knowing where exits or escape routes are, the location of improvised weapons and the intentions of the people. If the environment is clearly not safe, then if possible, leave the area with the third person.

If we find a friend or family member already being engaged by an aggressor and stuck in a situation that may become violent, we can employ some non-lethal techniques to discourage the aggressor from continuing. Screening is where the rescuer places their body between the attacker and the victim. This creates a physical barrier that protects the victim from further harm and may even stop the incident at this point, especially if the physical intervention is combined with calm, non-provocative verbal defusion tactics. An important point to remember, however, is that the rescuer can become the attacker’s new target, so be prepared.

If the attacker has become more aggressive and starts using threatening gestures, then we may have to use soft options to discourage the attacker. We can lead with an ‘educational block’ — a strike to the chest, followed by pressing fingers into the attacker’s jugular notch — and a sweep of the attacker’s arm that is on the victim, as well as employing the screening concept. From here, the rescuer can remove the victim from harm’s way.

If the attacker has taken the situation a step further and uses a weapon to threaten the victim, this heightening of aggression and the belief of the rescuer that physical harm will happen to the victim, allows the rescuer to increase their use of force in their response. An example is a knife threat against the victim; the rescuer must apply already-learned skills for countering a knife threat, in line with the principles of protecting a third person. The knife threat is on the victim, so the defender will send their hand out towards the wrist of the attacker’s knife-hand, redirecting the knife away from the victim. As in the previous examples, he needs to screen the victim from more attacks by stepping between the attacker and defender, and creating distance. The rescuer then deals with the attacker directly by whatever means necessary until the danger is eliminated, then escorts the victim away from the scene.


When we find a victim being assaulted with strikes, we need to stop the attack as soon as possible to minimise the injury to the victim. How we solve the problem will be dictated by the angle at which we need to approach. When approaching from behind or beside the victim, we can hit the attacker with hand-strikes and kicks to stop and separate the attacker from the victim, adding in our screening tactic.

When approaching from behind the attacker, we need to be careful to separate the attacker from the victim without injuring the victim in the process. For this we can use a simple takedown, whereby we grab the attacker’s head (using the eye sockets/forehead for leverage, as shown above) and stomp the back of their knee. We then pull and turn their head back and force the attacker to the ground face-first. From there we can escort the victim away.

We must remember that our actions could escalate the confrontation, so we must gauge the situation quickly, use an appropriate level of force and be aware that bystanders may be with the attacker and might choose to get involved if we do.

It’s also important to use tactical communication with both the attacker and the victim. When in a stressful situation, some people will freeze up; so, when trying to help a third person out of trouble, we need to communicate to them with clear, strong and basic instructions. For example, we might need to give simple directions such as “MOVE, GET UP, INTO THE CAR.”

In this article we have only touched on a very small section of the third-person protection subject taught within Krav Maga, and effecting these techniques well requires training. If you are untrained or if there is a high risk to you trying to stop the attack, these non-physical tactics may help: phone the police, write down the description of the attacker/s and/or a car registration, and/or distract the attackers from a safe distance.

Written by Adam White
Originally posted at Blitz Magazine