Home » Training » Scanning the Right Way

Scanning is a tactic used in a large majority of Krav Maga schools in this day and age. The purpose of the scan is to check your area, for potential threats, for obstacles, for ways to escape, to survey your damage and so on. I believe it was something that was introduced into the teaching method by Eyal Yanilov (if anyone knows differently, please share) and therefore it’s been taken on by the streams that he is or has been part of, namely IKMF and KMG. Not all KM organisations use the scan, but all stress the importance of being aware of your surroundings; the risks, the opportunities and knowing your environment.

All Krav Maga practitioners should aim to increase their own awareness in the general sense and also while they are in the stages of physical contact and fighting. We need to be training to utilise our environment and the things around it to our benefit, to help us survive, win, get away, etc. Therefore scanning is something that you must practice and learn properly.

The issue I see all the time is people seem to be doing it mechanically and without much conscious thought. Under stress blood flow is primarily mid-brain and at the back of the brain (the hypothalamus) so it is difficult to really focus in the same way. What one needs to do is bridge the gap so that while you’re in these heightened states that you have the ability to make some simple choices. So scanning for a purpose is very important, and identifying simple things (some mentioned in the first paragraph) must be practised all the time, preferably in scenario training. You need to practice making decisions after you’ve moved and scanned, even if it’s just in your head. I’ve seen far too many people moving and scanning and running into walls and heading in the opposite direction of the exit to where they would be cornered. Perfect practice makes perfect! 

You know the saying: ‘The way you train is the way you’ll react’

On another level, I think students and instructors even look at the scan as something that’s really cool. Remember the first time you saw your instructor do that (if you did) and you might have thought ‘woah, that’s awesome’. You may have vowed that from that day on you’re going to look as cool as him or her. The issue there is if you were given no way of really knowing if you are scanning okay, and the only criteria for understanding it is to do it, then it’s not going to work. I’ve seen far too many people just wobble their heads from side to side, looking into thin air, duck face on, moonwalk and all.

If your instructor isn’t helping you understand this so much, then just do it for yourself. Next time you do a scan while practising, make the decision to move towards the real exit point and do it like you mean it. The next time, look for a weapon in your facility and move to actually use it. And the next time you could move and use barriers.

There is one more issue I see with the scan. When you do it, you need to either have time and/or space. If you scan while you’re holding someone, be sure they’re not going to demolish you when you turn your head. Do it from a position of dominance if you can, so you have time to act and they are reacting in that time. Be prepared to disengage and move away if you see someone else coming your way. If you scan after you move away ensure that either that person/s are no longer a threat. If you scan one foot away from a threat, after doing a few palm strikes and assuming you’ve knocked out that person, expect to get smacked. Do not be in someone’s range when you’re scanning after moving away.

You could argue that it’s all little things, but it’s really not to me. We will react the way we train, so I think we should not just assume that we’re going to make the right decisions and the right ‘scanning’ in the moment.

While I’m here I want to say that we should all be scanning before, during and after. Just call it awareness or whatever you like, and do it while you’re fighting and doing drills too. Practice being aware of yourself and your environment in the moment as much as you can when training and in all forms of training.

In a future post, I’ll detail some ways that you can gain awareness of your environment from pre-conflict all the way to post-conflict. I’m looking forward to it! Be safe.

Written by Kurt Colpan
Your Krav Maga Expert.com
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