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An article about the benefits and reasons to include sparring in your Krav Maga training arsenal:

If you’re serious about Krav Maga and you aren’t sparring, then you’re missing out! If you have a problem or, a disability or, a genuine reason for not doing it, then I understand. Otherwise, there is no excuse. Start sparring right away!

Regardless, if you do or not, I would love to know your thoughts on the topic (comment below).

Does the thought of sparring instill in you fear? The fear of getting hit or the fear of striking someone and inflicting them harm is scary for most people. It is a natural process one learns to deal with in their Krav Maga training. If you can’t go past this fear then what you might need to do is take a really basic self defence course (as self protection skills and knowledge are important in life). Martial arts, self defence and combat sport training isn’t for everyone in the long term, and some people will just never spar. Saying that however, I repeat: Serious Krav Maga students must spar!

In our daily attempt to grow and become better at Krav Maga (or our chosen system/art), we must utilise our time and resources a little more efficiently. This is somewhat like our philosophy of Krav Maga; being practical, efficient and simplistic. What I mean by this is that sparring will turbo charge your training and enhance your abilities holistically, and faster than most other training tools.

Brain Vs Brawn – Remember to be effective in Krav Maga, we need a bit of brain and a bit of brawn! In sparring you practise and enhance both.  

Krav Maga Sparring at Close Combat Krav Maga At Central Coast of NSW

Krav Maga Sparring at Close Combat Krav Maga At Central Coast of NSW

We go to training, we focus on our combatives and self defence techniques. We practice techniques over and over again from a variety of positions, angles, scenarios and with many different variables. We train from sitting position, from on the ground completely, from standing, inside the car, in a confined space and from a problem/solution framework. We go from closed skills to open skills and develop the ability to identify problems and the best solutions. We learn about real life threats and dangers and how to effectively deal with them.

Yet,  what we’re often lacking in our training is the backbone of what Krav Maga is. It’s ‘CONTACT COMBAT’ and in order to be true to its core we must realise the importance of sparring; how and why it makes us better at fighting and ultimately more effective in combat.

‘If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you’.

~Bruce Lee

Learning to ‘hold your own’ is one big  benefit of sparring. It is something that you must do in order to really get the most out of your training, if you are in it for the long run. Developing a strong and undefeatable mindset is a key to effective combat and fighting skills.

Let me ask you some questions: have you ever hit someone full force or close to it? Did it connect properly, the way you trained it? Do you know what it feels like to hit someone in the face? Do you know what it sounds like? Are you sure that your strikes can get to the target? Can you put together a sequence of attacks that flow and hit the mark? How can you be sure if you’ve never tested yourself in a dynamic environment?

Or have you ever been hit? If not, then what makes you think that you can survive a violent attack? Sparring is one tool that teaches us how to be resilient. It brings us close to the experience and feeling of a real fight/combat situation, without having to risk our safety. It helps sharpen every attribute in our arsenal and teaches us how to put our combatives together; to go from range to range, in and out with confidence.

Remember, you’re not meant to get seriously hurt when sparring. Sure you’ll be punched in the face, perhaps you’ll get a bloody nose, or a black eye once in a blue-moon, but you shouldn’t ever come out of it with a broken arm, crushed testicles or missing an eye –Sparring is meant to be done safely! Wear protective gear at all times.

An important note is ‘sparring should not be seen as a competition’, this is easier said than done. However, each individual should see it as an opportunity to learn and to train with a partner in a safe way. Sparring is a tool. When you’re doing it drop your ego and work hard and smart. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t utilise aggression and hit hard and not be yourself. It just means to do it in a way that shows a duty of care to not only yourself, but to your partner.

Remember, our overall goal is to get home safely. If you’re leaving the gym injured every time, then you’re doing it wrong. If you’re deliberately hurting people then that again applies. Remember one of the founding principles of Krav Maga training: Do not get hurt and do not hurt your training partners.

Sparring is not punching and kicking the air (though you can use this method as a tool for learning). Sparring is not ‘slow fighting’ (another tool) and sparring is not bashing each other with no other goal in mind either. There is a time amd place for everything and in general I have found that there are many good ways to slowly build a practitioner safely. As time goes on one should start moving to a more dynamic and challenging environment.

Sparring should develop into a full contact activity that teaches the student to be effective as a fighter. Meaning, we instructors need to teach our students how to bring their ‘A’ game to a fighting environment in order to truly develop their overall combat ability. Remembering to make each student work bit by bit, just a little above their range to make learning fun and safe. This is just one piece of the puzzle and an important part. I will elaborate more on sparring in other blogs in the future.

Remember: Sparring is an essential part of any serious Krav Maga man or woman’s activities!

Benefits Of Sparring

Sparring will help you develop a greater understanding and application of the following skills:

Rhythm– How to break your opponents rhythm. Changing your own.

Distance – How to control the distance between you and your partner.

Timing – How to judge the timing of your opponent and know when to hit and defend

Combinations – How to land combinations whilst your partner moves forwards, backwards and tries to counter.

Defences – You will learn how to use your defences and counters in a dynamic environment.

Footwork – How to move in, out and to the sides to strike or evade.

Speed – You will learn how to use your speed to hit your opponent before they can block, as well as move quickly out the way of a strike.

Balance – You will learn to control your balance and center of gravity whilst in a fighting motion.

Reaction – You will improve your reaction times.

Focus – You will be forced to keep focus and concentrate on the fight without distractions. The second you switch off you will know about it!

Cardiovascular – Your fitness levels will have to adapt and will improve.

Muscular endurance – Your endurance and stamina will improve.

Adaptability – If you train it right, you can practice self defence techniques and find a huge number of ways to adapt the techniques and parts of techniques to a greater variety of problems. That is one of the beauties of Krav Maga.

Conditioning – You will learn to get hit and maintain your composure so you can carry on.

Lastly, do not limit your sparring/contact training to one-on-one fighting. Combine it with plenty of multiple attacker training and throw in some combat drills and scenario training and you’re well on the way.

Written by Kurt Colpan
Your Krav Maga Expert.com
Copyright © 2014
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  1. Geoff Smollett says:

    Awesome blog. It hits the sparring nail on the head (so to speak). You need sparring as it the closest you will get to the real thing. It gives the student the opportunity to try things in a safe environment and work out maybe why something’s didn’t work. Sparring is also a totally different kind of fitness. You can be ‘fit’ but not fight fit.

  2. Briel Uriel says:

    Great article Kurt! I believe that once you become familiar with getting hit you develope your defensive and offensive capabilities. This you cannot learn on a bag or pads…

  3. Chester says:

    Nice piece Kurt.
    Sparring has helped me enormously. The sessions at CCKM are well controlled and an effective addition to the programme.
    Thanks and look forward to more of your insight.

  4. Chris Tran says:

    Love the article. Great way to motivate more people to spar and develop their skills.

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