Clear, Control, and Counter

Krav Maga training

Krav Maga street fight
In a related post, I’ve written about the fact that the Elite Defence Academy International system of Krav Maga is distinctive for several reasons.

One of those reasons is the fact that our Krav Maga doesn’t only consist of a syllabus of set techniques. There’s also a framework of powerful physical and psychological principles that link everything together.

These principles also teach us how to apply Krav Maga skills spontaneously, accurately, intelligently, and “off-script”, so to speak.

In other words, our core performance principles are the golden thread that runs through everything we do – and it’s an astonishingly effective way to do things as part of an intelligent system of Krav Maga.


One of the first principles that a student learns when he or she begins training at Elite Defence Academy is a process we call “The 3 C’s” – one of our most important principles governing technique and movement.

This is an acronym that stands for Clear, Control, and Counter – and it’s the very first criteria we apply to every single technique we teach.

So, cool, but what does it actually mean?

Krav Maga core principles

Quite simply, it’s a process. A process that must be followed, every single time, in every single situation, whether you’re disarming a weapon, or reacting to an incoming punch thrown with lightning speed.
And if you don’t follow this process, your technique has inherent weaknesses (or isn’t actually a technique but just a blind reaction). Here's an example:


To explain the “3 C’s” in a simple way, let’s take a bog-standard handgun holdup as an example.

If you’re being held up at gunpoint, there are a hundred different things you could do – but not all of them are intelligent choices.
Let’s say, for example, that you decide to just “grab the gun” and kick your assailant in the groin. (I know I’m being silly here, but indulge me for a moment.)
The outcome is pretty predictable: there’s an enormous likelihood that you’ll get shot.


So, let’s take that one step further. Let’s do what some “traditional” Krav Maga styles used to teach, back in the day: let’s grab the handgun and push it to the side (to prevent from getting shot, obvs), and then punch the bad guy in the face before continuing to grab the gun out of his hand.

Workable? Perhaps. I’d say about fifty-fifty, given shaky hands and tunnel vision under stress. But, to me, a 50% chance of dying is not fantastic odds, to be honest.

I mean, what could go wrong? Well, here are a few possibilities:

  • I could miss the grab, and hey, I’m still in the muzzle sweep, even if I’ve sidestepped.
  • I could get the grab, but after I punch the dude, which direction does he fall in? (Hint: he falls backward, placing me straight back in the line of potential fire.)
  • I could grab the gun successfully, punch him successfully, and latch on with both hands. Now, if he’s holding on reflexively, and so am I, we’re now wrestling for control, both at arm’s length – which, from a physics point of view, is not great if he’s stronger than I am.

… and so on.

I’m not being nitpicky here, and I’m certainly (and sincerely) not intending to criticize folks who might swear by this method, because, hey, maybe they’re really good at it.

But, for me, I’d like a little more control of the process if I can engineer it.
So, here’s an example of what we do at Elite Defence Academy International:


Krav Maga gun disarm

If I do a fundamental EDA Krav Maga handgun disarm, the Hook and Lock, the first step is to, well, step. We step to the side and in toward the opponent (very rapidly!).

Simultaneously, we grasp the gunman’s wrist and turn sideways, snapping his wrist or forearm into a “hook” created by our other arm. This pins his arm against our chest. Then, in an action almost like folding your arms, you cross your arms and grasp the slide of the handgun while also tightly hugging his elbow or upper arm in your armpit.

At this point, it is 100% impossible for him to direct the muzzle of the firearm toward you (and by the way, this initial movement, with practice, all happens in far less than a second).

Now these are odds I like.


Krav Maga gun disarm

Now, if you stand there like a dumbass, the gunman may very well reflexively punch you, wrestle you, try to grab the firearm with his other hand, try to barge you over, try to pull back violently… a dozen possibilities that are less than wonderful.

So… we need to control him. We need to control his arm, control the firearm, disrupt his balance, break his posture, and make it really difficult for him to fight back.

And, to do this, we most commonly step out and away, and yank him downward by dropping our bodyweight suddenly, pulling him off balance. When this happens, he has to focus on regaining his balance – this is an involuntary reflex that he cannot control.

This buys you time to now take the weapon out of his hand.

There are other methods of hitting him with the “control” segment, too: a big looping swing, shifting your hip to trip him, snapping your chest against his elbow to injure or break it, or even stepping straight in for an elbow strike to his face while your arms are still locked onto his.


In that split second, as he loses balance, or is stunned or injured, we then reverse direction, keeping everything tight in against the chest, and almost spinning away, using the power of the legs and hips to drive the twist that rips the firearm out of his hand.

And it works. It works incredibly well.

So what am I getting at here? Is this the “only way” to do a disarm? No! Absolutely not.

There are at least 16 different gun disarm techniques in our system – BUT, there is only one principle, and that principle is the “3 C’s”. If a movement adheres to that process, it’s a sound technique. If not, well… there’s a higher risk of failure, and we don’t like that.

This also doesn’t mean that we just invent “cute movements”, either. Every single thing we teach is forged from practical, on-the-street experience, and reverse engineered so that we can identify the underlying principles and work on making them progressively more powerful.

This principle of using the “3 C’s” is universal, and it applies to absolutely everything we do – hand to hand fighting, weapon disarms, weapon handling, groundfighting, multiple attackers… you name it.

It’s our primary troubleshooting guide for checking good technique in class, and it’s a mantra that is repeated over and over so that students are acutely conscious of it throughout every stage of their Krav Maga journey.


The “3 C’s” is just one of 16 powerful principles that define the Elite Defence Academy Krav Maga way of thinking and executing technique. Those principles also act as a guide to tactics and strategy, and become a set of life skills that extend far beyond the physical application in Krav Maga and self defense.

Combined with all the others, this principle engineers something quite remarkable in our practitioners. And it’s this: our students aren’t taught what to think, they’re taught how to think, which encourages fluidity, adaptability, and personal evolution.

And that makes all the difference.


As a slightly humorous anecdote:

When EDA was still affiliated to an Israeli Krav Maga organization, several years back, I would often ask for deeper explanations of techniques, aiming at principle-based thinking… and they just weren’t there. Yes, of course there were the “principles” that are broadly preached across Krav Maga styles – but these are strategic in nature (the outward process), and not personal (the inward process that governs movement, amplifies power, creates greater speed, and induces combat intelligence).

One of the first governing principles that I adopted, back then, for our Krav Maga, was the “3 C’s” – and we used it in our classes and in everything we taught.

Later, when we had struck out on our own, I happened to come across a snippet of syllabus from the organization we had left… and lo and behold, they had adopted “Clear, Control, and Counter” as an official add-on to their syllabus. Not only that, but they had apparently – ahem – invented it.

We don’t mind.

In fact, the more people adopt our thinking, the happier we are. Why? Because we’d like to add value to whatever people are practicing. We’re not precious about our “secrets”, because we don’t have any, and we’re absolutely willing to share what we know – with the truthful understanding that we also don’t know everything.

We’re all on the same side (I hope) – the side that exists to fight injustice, work for peace, and protect and equip the vulnerable.

And for us, that’s the most important thing.

Want to learn from the thought leaders in Krav Maga? Consider taking a look at our online Krav Maga Training Videos.