No matter what you may have seen on television, the reality of a fight can be very different and dangerous. In actuality, getting hit is a terrifying experience, and it can be difficult to prepare for shock and pain.
Regardless of how well you plan your moves or practice dodging, getting hit is an unpredictable and often inevitable consequence of fighting. Sometimes, the shock of receiving a blow will shake your confidence and cause you to lose focus of your techniques. Learning about Krav Maga sparring and the philosophy of taking a hit can improve your reaction and prevent trauma in the event that you are faced with a fight.
Throw a Punch, Take a Punch
Although the back-and-forth exchange of punches during Krav Maga sparring may seem like a simple feat, it’s very difficult to find an opening to throw a punch--and even harder to avoid them. It’s easy to get excited about delivering a combination of punches and then dodging the counterattack, but in reality, you can only anticipate unpredictability.
Sometimes, it can be more energy efficient to accept a blow from an opponent, rather than to expend your resources trying to avoid getting hit. In fact, learning how to take a hit during Krav Maga sparring will actually increase your resilience and stamina and help you to become a well-rounded fighter.
The Importance of Sparring
At Krav Maga, the foundation is set on sparring. To become proficient with any technique, you’ll need to train and spar with other experts, as hands-on sessions can refine your ability to react and respond.
It is crucial that when training, you and your partner are able to practice in a safe and controlled environment. One of the many benefits of Krav Maga sparring is that you can decide how often and how strenuous of a session you can have to improve your techniques. By understanding the danger that comes with fighting, sparring can help you to mitigate fear and prepare for real-life situations.
When is the Right Time to Spar?
Krav Maga sparring is a basic, but comprehensive form of self-defense training. While it emphasizes the most rudimentary and skeletal form of Krav Maga, sparring also forces you to consider the important aspects of your fighting techniques and implement them in a fluid, reactive manner. In Krav Maga, you can expect to integrate the following techniques during training:
- Stances and movement
- Punches and chops
- Elbow techniques
- Knee technique
- Punch defenses
- Ground fighting
- Self-defense techniques
Once you have mastered these basic techniques, you can become comfortable training with an experienced partner. The autonomous muscle response can keep you from getting distracted when attempting to function in a high-pressure setting.
As such, it is important to avoid Krav Maga sparring until you are completely confident that your techniques and skills are capable of unsimulated situations. Beginning your sparring training at your own pace with appropriate supervision can ensure that you are on the right track to mastering Krav Maga.
Who Should You Spar With?
As in all disciplines, the best way to learn is to practice with those who are more experienced. Finding a mentor who has mastered the elements of Krav Maga can ensure that your training and focus is properly aligned.
Although it may seem like a poor decision to spar against a highly experienced partner, it is actually safer than training with someone with a lesser understanding of Krav Maga. Experienced fighters can efficiently control their strength and speed, meaning there is less likelihood for injury and mistakes.
A good Krav Maga sparring partner will know how to deliver solid, but relatively harmless blows, in order to keep the environment safe. Ultimately, sparring is not about winning or competing, but rather, improving technique and form.
Where Should You Spar?
Generally, your home fitness studio is where you should begin sparring. However, if you prefer to train against those you are unfamiliar with, there are many more options to consider. Competitive studios that focus solely on sparring can be a great starting point to getting established as a proven fighter.
However, since Krav Maga sparring is designed for technique drills, building agility, and improving your mental stability, you may not want to go to a facility that treats its sparring matches like real fights. The best place for sparring is in an environment of mutual respect and learning.
How Do You Know If You’re Ready to Spar?
Choosing the right time to start Krav Maga sparring is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you jump in too early, then you may be plagued by injury or poorly implemented techniques. On the other hand, if you start too late, then you may struggle to adapt your ingrained habits to the situations in the ring.
Trust your coach to alert you when the time is right to begin sparring. Since every person develops at their own pace, it’s not safe to assume that everyone will be ready to spar at the same time. If you’d like to participate in sparring as soon as possible, discuss your options with an instructor.
Use Measured, Progressive Sparring
Many newcomers to Krav Maga assume that sparring only occurs at a very advanced level. In reality, sparring is intended for all levels, even allowing inexperienced fighters to work with professionals.
To encourage positivity, sportsmanship, and growth, instructors highly recommend open communication and a reduction in speed and impact. For example, new fighters should work at a slow pace with light punches and slowly progress to faster and harder hits. You can also modify your speed and strength if you wish to focus on a particular aspect of Krav Maga sparring.
Always Gear Up
No matter your level of skill, it’s never worth the risk to step into the ring without the proper safety gear. During full-contact Krav Maga sparring, always wear a mouthpiece and protective headgear. Safety is always a primary concern in Krav Maga, and sparring should be treated as a means of building up skill, rather than endangering yourself.
In addition to the mouthpiece and headgear, gloves, shin guards, and groin protection is necessary. Beginners can choose to use heavier gloves, such as 16 oz. gloves, for additional padding. For men, wearing a cup is essential, given that groin shots are an integral part of the practice.
Staying Relaxed is the Key to Top Performance
No matter the situation, your true opponent is always your own fear and anxiety. These emotions can cause internal tension, resulting in detrimental effects to your respiratory and muscular systems. In some cases, elevated stress on a respiratory system can cause hyperventilation and panic attacks.
High-intensity Krav Maga training ensures that fighters don’t succumb to fear and anxiety. While high-intensity training is a great way to increase physical strength, there can still be difficulty breathing if you are not relaxed.
While the fight-or-flight response is a necessary during Krav Maga sparring, the rush of adrenaline may cause your muscles to seize, slowing your movements and impeding your abilities. Even worse, the moment of impact on tense muscles can result in more pain. With tense muscles, you’ll have trouble focusing on your opponent, predicting moves, and dodging blows, so relaxation is a key part of a successful strategy.
Krav Maga and Sparring
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, Krav Maga sparring is an essential part of your practice. It helps prepare your techniques and mindset for potentially dangerous situations and gives you an opportunity to implement your skills in a safe setting. With a controlled environment and supportive instructors, Krav Maga offers the ultimate sparring experience.