5/17/14

Sparring/Boaz Aviram

The various dictionaries will give you slim idea of the definition of the word sparring: To fight with an opponent in a short bout or practice session, as in boxing or the martial arts…To make boxing or fighting motions without hitting one's opponent… Make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training…To bandy words about in argument; dispute… To fight by striking with the feet and spurs(used of gamecocks)…


The origin of the verb lie in Old English sperran, spyrran 'strike out', of unknown origin; compare with Old Norse sperrask 'kick out'.

When it comes to Martial Arts Sparring as a test could result in various interpretations, depending on the intention. 

Obviously it can tell if something work or does not work. Often it is used as fun adrenaline danger challenge, motivation to keep up with the fitness training, and exhibition of fighting sport competition with ticket revenue for an entertaining event.

But when it comes to Pure Krav Maga, the question is why something does not work. For that, you need to know the essence of principles of fighting, training application and teaching.


Sequential execution for technique could be wrongly done, technique could not comply with principles of efficiency and under the tactical constraint of reaction time, sequential execution, or applied in the wrong tactical hierarchy of prioritization.

Inability to choose and apply the right technique at the right timing at the right moment into sparring is a result of incomplete learning of the principles.

The so called Sparing in Pure Krav Maga section is incorporated through the training as fighting games to utilize the use of individual principles as learned through the various range techniques and then a few training sessions are allotted to free style sparring where the “fight’ is being stopped by the instructor and both students are corrected when needed.  

The need for sparring is to test the application of proper self defense response in various scenarios, under stress and physical exertion.  Mostly it is a drilling method that lets students experience the mental stress of failure “fighting another” training partner.

The idea is to bring the frustration level of students that cannot apply their learned techniques in reality to zero. 

However, since the idea in Krav Maga, is not to project your attack and defense capabilities, and finish your opponent as soon as possible, you should really consider moving in and assuming a convenient stance facilitating motion to any direction perhaps after your first preemptive opening strike.  

Last resort shadowboxing can only be used by a trained Krav Maga student to drill his opponent in fast reaction to an attack and proper use of timing.  

The preference is to constantly move in, and if you move too much you would have no choice but to resort to escape from grappling scenarios.  

So really with your motivation to finish the fight as soon as possible, to be able to respond to the next opponent or escape from the scene, you do not want to use any tactical thought that if you are more of an experienced boxer than wrestler, you rather keep the range and work on timing striking without letting your opponent a chance to grab you.  

The idea of efficiency calls for do your best from the kicking range, then close the gap if necessary to the punching range, and follow up with elbows knee kicks, and various knife hand back hand uppercut roundhouse etc., and if the opponent closed up the range then he would have left you no choice but to resort to escape from possible grappling with immediate follow up strike shove, push, twist tear or squeeze a pressure point as in that short of a range, you do not have enough momentum for a forceful strike so you need to look for the softest pressure points or the easiest joints to manipulate.

It is common in Martial Arts Dojos that sparring is used also as self expression and some students have the mentality that they would feel better if they always “win”.  So many times the really good and modest students find a need to settle the issues quickly.  

The usual scenario is the students that ask to spar with you, ask you to take it easy on them and then come at full force at you.  That type of students end up later in their martial arts careers advancing elsewhere when they find their own kind of folk.

Speaking about how to handle a “training partner out of control” in Pure Krav Maga you learn how to execute devastating strikes, punches, kicks, and other hand strikes, that with full force can easily kill someone.  

Use of boxing gloves, provides some protection.  But still kick to the groin with the ball of the foot, kick to the temple with the ball of the foot, side kick to the knee and strike to the top of the head could have a devastating effect, so the force of a trained student needs to be controlled.  

The use of continuous attack is good to open a fight when the opponent is retracting.  
However, continuous attack in no way does mean that you throw punches and kicks without distinction. You must stop after each kick and aim the next. 

In the close range you have less time to think and probably should strike immediately after you felt that your first strike did not land forcefully, but you should really try to end it with the first strike.  

The use of continuous attack after a block and counter attack is good in facilitating distraction to the opponent and ability to gradually increase the strength of strike and lead the fight until the instructor stops the fight.

The instructor’s job is to keep the “sparring” training partners focused.  While the use of an armbar is good in showing advantage, all training partners, should be trained in escaping from arm bars with striking to a pressure point, so this should not become a favorable option among sparring partners.  Soft pressure points could be controlled by increasing the pressure slowly.  

In fact when someone grabs you in a headlock or a choke, after the initial ease up of the pressure by redirecting their force to a weak angle, you should put pressure with your thumb on their eye, increasing the depth until the leave your neck trying to move their hand from their eye.  Or you can strike their groin.  

Of course, most students wear groin protector in training and some head gear. But all of these make it less comfortable for them to see and to react fast.  You can use the groin area when it is protected as a center of gravity to strike and still give your opponent great discomfort and shock even for a split second and move to your next attack.  

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