In common Martial Arts it surfaced by many student’s personal experience and was adopted by many instructors.
I will present only few case stories and hope you will learn your lesson:
Martial Art Instructors have fear that disrespect from a student might put them down in a moment of weakness.
They also have fear that a better skilled fighter could put down years of hard work acquired good reputation. These fears might have contributed to this kind of dirty practice.
Remember that when you are surrounded by friends, your awareness is lax. You really do not expect someone that you consider a long friend or acquaintance to attack you by surprise and even if you see it, many times you do not believe what you see.
Masters of Krav Maga are challenged by a Old School Martial Artist to “Sparring as means of Exchange, by their own students, and by plain challengers that are simply looking for a challenge.
To the rising tide of Specialized Direct from the IDF Krav Maga Experts many Old Timers martial Artists consider adding the name Krav Maga to their boutique of unique name training systems developed in house.
The reason could be plain aggressive marketing. But the hidden truth is also that they cannot simply step back and tell their clients “Sorry, but I taught you garbage the last four years!”
They are probably so busy with their business they cannot step out of the box and see if it is real. They are either too old and tired or newbies which are idiots thinking they can sell fitness in a kimono.
The old school was to settle accounts via public or closed doors sparring. Closed doors give them yet an escape to cover their losses.
In tight laws in the west, where dueling was banned long time ago, non competitive martial arts use sparring as a method of last resort for self defense only.
Fighting Sports should differ from Non Competitive Self Defense H2H methods it their training methods. While fighting sports are geared to getting a point without causing severe damage, Self Defense H2H training methods should be geared to training to prove a point that is hard to prove collectively without injuring someone seriously.
That point is which method is the most efficient way to fight giving the best outcome possibilities. To date to my opinion, Pure Krav Maga is the most Pure H2H Self Defense Method existing!
Even some of Israel’s long timers Martial Arts instructors stole the name Krav Maga from Immi’s grave.
Immi Sde Or had monopoly on Krav Maga in the Israeli Defense Force from its inception and until he died his appointed students were a preferred choice. Then it turned Chaos.
This is the attitude of the old school. I personally had few experiences on the various levels of training. Student and Master.
After arriving at the Fighting Fitness Academy as a designated helper to Eli Avikzar, and after a training session of two hours with at the time his assistant, I paid a visit to my old Martial Arts school.
Since I did not attend training for a year due to my IDF Basic Training, I was put to “the fight gauntlet.” However to my prior Martial Art Instructor's surprise I knocked out his at the time champion in the first few seconds of the fight with bursting front hand punch between his forearms that were protecting his head.
I am older now, and would not be in a hurry for a kids challenge to "spar" if he is not my student, since injuries on both sides could come with punishment for life, and also I do not wish to teach bullies for free.
On some offers for sparring, I agreed only on my terms which would be throat and groin plucking allowed. But I also logically not precluding the option of having a bad day and getting rusty with age. Why get scratched if you are not getting paid for it?
If you are forced to protect yourself for self defense then it is the only time you are allowed to enjoy yourself by pressing the Auto Pilot to bring you in the most efficient and safe way to the nearest espresso bar crushing all the opponents on your way.
I remember back at least of my students being in a rush to complete his training, telling me that maybe he would learn better if we sparred. I said he will be on the floor in two seconds not understanding how it happened.
He however insisted. I suggested postponing the challenge to the next day and not in front of his peers being concerned about him losing face. He declined. So guess what, two seconds he was on the ground without knowing what happened to him.
I had few conversations with a student that took an Instructor course with one of the civilian Organizations. Although he was an ex sports martial arts champion, when he took the course, he said that one of the students was taking to him to distract him while the other knocked him out.
When I used to visit Eli Avikzar's Civilian Krav Maga School when Eli Avikzar was teaching there was one student that I was told by the substitute teacher that worked for Eli, had a habit to challenge people for fight and then brag about it to his friends.
If you beat him in sparring he would ask to arm wrestle and beat you in something to have something to brag about. Anyway I happened to beat him in both sparring and arm wrestling.
Around that time, I was teaching Krav Maga in the Israeli Defense Forces Eight hours a day, and keeping in shape with the early morning six mile jog with forty pounds of Tank Body Armor gear in the sand dunes near the Mediterranean Sea, finishing it off with Rope climbing in the obstacle course.
At least one occasion I was asked to help a demo in front of someone’s civilian association students. When it was finished I was taking to a student as their instructor was few feet away, to my left.
Then I heard a pinging noise in my ears and saw the Instructor lunging with a pall of the foot kick to my chin tilting his torso back in a seesaw motion. I turned and not wanting to embarrass the man that was older than me and used to be my friend I told him: ”WTF are you doing? He said “Sorry!”
I think he was sorry that his surprise kick did not take me down! I gained some reputation as the Ex IDF Chief and some Civilian Krav Maga in the Lineage were worried about their reputation.
In fact one day I sparred with my military instructor in Eli Avikzar’s civilian school, and Eli arranged the same trick on me. When I thought the sparring had ended, Eli was taking to me after the sparring had ended.
As I’ve turned my head to him, the other student did a spinning rear jumping round house kick and Knocked me out.
Since I was thankful for being let in to the Krav Maga Academy, and respected Eli Avikzar and his students, I never tried to play any unethical games with anyone.
I guess this time is was part of the initiation process. Guess some people do not like the idea of losing conscience, and to make them feel than you need to surprise them.
Reflecting back on the past, I remember that once I've lost conscience after slipping on a hill finding myself lying on my back in a Judo break-fall from about two story height.
I also recall that back in the Jujitsu classes they made everyone go unconscious as part of the training.
I was told by Eli Avikzar that when he sent his prior assistant to help train the Christian Maronites in Lebanon under Colonel Hadad Krav Maga, he told him:
"These people only understand force. Take the strongest one for a demo and use full force".
This is what he did. He broke someone's knee in a demonstration, and guess what - The Christian Maronites did not want anymore Krav Maga Training!
When I arrived in Italy for a demo I was told that the prior instructor they had used full force in a demo and injured one of the students. So they asked me to be gentle.
Eli Avikzar's school and my prior Martial Arts Schools always had few students that were naturally cowards. They used to ask you to take it easy on them before they sparred, and then tried to surprise attack you with full force. They usually ended up on the floor, and being disliked by their mates.
These old school dirty tricks are even mentioned in Fairbairn articles when they taught the British Special Forces:
"Pick on the strong man, and surprise kick him in front of the class to instill fear."
Well in the IDF, we did not have to do it. We kept it more real. We let Special Forces to try and be funny during a demonstration so we could practice instinctive response to a threat.
One day Eli Avikzar gave me advice: "Never spar with your student! Because if you hurt him he will hate you!" Another advice he gave me was: "The minute you demonstrate in front a group of soldiers and be put down by one of them, your career as the Israeli Defense Force Krav Maga Instructor is FINISHED!"
It is good to be neutral and be able to settle argument without having to resort to force and not become anyone's enemy. I think one way of proving a point is persuading the martial artist challenger that if he tries your way of doing things, he might feel it is easier for him. But at times, it is not worth doing, because some people are looking to learn for free. Above all, do not be stupid!
If it did not cross your mind by now, let me emphasize, that in Pure Krav Maga you are learning not to get KO if you keep your awareness, reaction time, and are trained in the correct sequential execution.
But if you move your field of vision as a result of distraction, and are in a lax environment with lots of activity and background noise, you can get caught by surprise. Things are that simple. Also remember that if you share time with people you normally trust, they can surprise you the most.
This practice of KO game was prevalent through history, as political manipulation. It was also used as a to test punching and kicking skills on new students. Finally it was used as an initiation game and as a simple joke.
I chose to never include it in my training seminars. The old days are gone. I am dealing with assertive people that do not like to have surprises and generally like to be in control of they actions. They come to learn how not to get hurt.
I do not see it as a necessary requirement to get Knocked out as part of the training. It does happens at times, but I generally prefer controlled strikes that do not completely knock out the training partners.
The above stories deal with a distraction by a group of friends resulting in not paying attention to surprise attack. I take my instruction seriously and would not tolerate such jokes or experiments on other's account.
As harmless that they may seem, and be, and as low the rates of accidents may be, I would never expose my students to intentional experiment of such.
What appears to be inevitable in the boxing world and at times in full contact karate to its variations, does not have to be inevitable during a self defense seminar.
It can happen, but I would not induce it just to get a reputation of a tough school for fighting arts and certainly not by incorporating a knockout as initiation party to new students.
I am sure you might have your own reflection about your personal path.
My book Krav Maga - Use Your Body as a Weapon and training videos Pure Krav Maga - Self Defense Mastery, surpass all the other martial arts training materials, however don’t fool yourself - they are the basics only of H2H. What these basics do is put doubt in all years of Training Methods in existence of the others.