Quora Question: On Sparring

How much sparring is there in Krav Maga?

In my class, sparring is a key part. It was the way I was trained under Master Gabi Noah, who trained under Grandmaster Imi himself. It’s also how I still practice today. The only way to really become better in self-defense is through sparring. In training, as an efficient partner, you want to challenge your partner while at the same time keeping them safe.

Self-control and body awareness will make you a better fighter. It will also make you a more efficient partner that others want to train with.

So it’s not about winning a fight, but about developing skills like:

  • speed

  • accuracy

  • breathing

  • movement

  • confidence

  • control

  • tactics

  • control

  • patience

It’s one thing to punch a heavy bag. It’s another thing to punch another person, even lightly with control.

One thing I love about Krav Maga fighting is that most classes are mixed. So you might have a partner who is at an intermediate level and 2 meters tall, and your next partner might be in their first week and be 1.6 meters.

In both matches, you have an opportunity to learn.

For partner 1, you can test out techniques under pressure, and be pushed to increase your level of skill and confidence. You can go harder (with control) and gain from their experience.

For partner 2, you test your control and your ability to help your opponent learn, balancing the need to be patient and not overwhelm them, but to push them to increase their skills.

So how do we spar in Krav Maga, safely, while practicing very dangerous techniques?

Krav Maga is about self-defense in life-threatening situations. There are no rules in Krav Maga, it is about doing moves that cripple our opponent so we can get away. As I drill my students, if you are in a contact combat situation, you have either made many mistakes and didn't de-escalate when you could have, or you have been taken by surprise by a deadly attack.

Either way, it will be an unfair situation where you will be at a disadvantage. No one who is smaller and weaker than you will attack you (unless they have a weapon or multiple attackers) The longer you keep the fight going, the more chance they have to use their advantage.

We try to practice the moves as closely as we can to real life, so we know how to time the attack, how to block, how to attack.

This means having safety equipment and having partners who will not be dry leaves but will “react” to an attack even if it’s marked.

Actually, it’s a lot easier actually to hurt someone than we think. It’s harder to control techniques and not hurt someone.

In a class I attended, this small guy was practicing elbows with a much larger bodybuilder. One uncontrolled elbow and the small guy broke the body builder’s nose.

That’s why safety is number one.

Once we know how to do the techniques and have the control to practice them without hurting someone, we most likely can use them if we need to hurt someone.

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