Sparring Isn’t Self Defense

During higher level tests that I run there is always a time I have those testing gear up and “fight”. After giving the command to fight I always have to stop them and yell. In the upper level’s they are getting to be very proficient at sparring…but sparring isn’t what I want to see. I stop them and say “You all look really pretty, such nice movement and techniques. What does that have to do with the real world? In the real world the circling, feinting, going in and out, dropping levels, etc. isn’t getting you to your goal. Your goal is to smash the idiot and get out of there. If you spar you will prolong the fight. He/she may be better at sparring than you and you are certainly at a much greater risk of his/her buddies showing up to help as you prolong the encounter. I want to see knees, elbows, eye gouging, groins being kicked and people hitting the ground…destruction right away and then get out of there!”

In krav maga every combative we throw is thrown as hard as we can. We are looking to knock out and do damage with every blow. In sport fighting it’s different. They are not fighting for their lives, they know that they only have one opponent, they are fairly equally matched with someone their own weight, they don’t have to worry about a weapon, there is a ref to stop the other guy from stomping their head if they hit the ground, etc. I’ve seen many a boxing match where one opponent is trying to outpoint the other and never once really swings for a knockout. Put a handgun or knife in the attacker’s hand and we really have a problem with this approach to fighting.

In sparring the opponents have several rounds to get through so they pace themselves. They feel each other out for a few rounds and only go in hard when there is an opening. Fighting for your life is anger, rage and going forward without slowing down until the attacker is unconscious! As Rory Miller says “The first person to go balls to the wall usually wins.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are some mighty good sparrers out there and sparring helps us to train avoiding being hit, helps us to know what getting rocked is really like & how it effects us and it works our combative skills. There are many a boxer, kick boxer, bjj practitioner and MMA fighter that, if they came to my gym and challenged me, would kick my butt. Here is where it differs…if the same guy was in my house and going to hurt my family I WOULD NOT LOSE! I would come from behind, break a chair over their head and then see how far I could shove one of the wood shards down their throat. Real life is different, dirty fighting is winning fighting. If you find yourself in a fair fight your tactics suck!

My biggest problem with teaching sparring as self defense is that what we train will come out of us. IF attacked there will be an adrenaline dump (a host of chemicals actually, not just adrenaline), stress, exhaustion, fear, etc. Our brains go to “mid brain” and we cannot think or plan but our training will come out of us. I want to train my students to go forward with rage and aggression to do the maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time and then get to safety. I do no want circling, pacing, feinting, throwing and then retreating, etc. to come out of them.

So spar to work your skills but don’t end there. Learn how to fight…go off with rage, go forward and swing for the fences until you are safe. BE SAFE!

This is a fairly lame video but contains several “street fights”. How many of these resemble sparring at all?


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