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 Shooting.
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 military 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 possible because the hand-to-hand, empty hand against the knife components use limited core techniques 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 initial attack.
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 techniques.
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 practitioner 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 theirs.