July 9, 2023, Israel
I was sent a question inquiring how far one can go in their Krav Maga training without having a training partner.
You ask at what point does one need a training partner. I must admit that is a bit of a challenging question.
Most people train in a class or with a partner, but you can certainly start and make a lot of progress on your own. During the Covid period when everyone was stuck at home I continued with our online program and many students found that they actually made more progress. They were focusing more on the details, on the movements, on the flow of energy, rather just on aggressively trying to reach the results. When someone only trains with a partner they often are so focused on the goal, hitting the other person fast, getting the gun disarm etc., that they forget to focus on the movements. So there was a lot of value to solo training.
During that period, I received the following message fro Jorg, one of our instructors in Germany:
The solo drills are so much effective. You concentrate on the movement and not on the technique itself. Training with a partner, we tend to concentrate on the confrontation which gives the techniques a different meaning. The movement itself slightly disappears and is often faked. Doing solo drills, the individual learning process is much higher. It is a great add on to the normal training.
In traditional martial arts most of the early training is actually done as solo drills, (Kata, Poomse, Kontoh in different arts) and the contact part comes much later. In traditional Judo there is a great deal of training on footwork and entering, before any actual throws take place. As Jorg pointed out, when we focus on the throw, rather than on the movement, our entire desire is to throw the guy/opponent/training partner and we will neglect technique and focus on whatever it takes, muscle etc to achieve our goal. Often, when training with a partner, we lose the subtleties of the technique.
So I would say one can certainly start on their own but a certain point a training partner is important. At a later stage the training partner becomes criticial.
If you can't find a training partner at first, you can "borrow" people. How so? When I was getting ready for my black belt test I wanted to constantly practice my wrist defenses, gun disarms etc. So I would just ask friends, Hey can you grab my arm for a minute, I promise not to hurt you, I just need to practice the movement. And that worked very well for me.
However, after a while, one truly needs a training partner, in fact the more people you train with, the better. When it comes to knife attacks, or gun threats, at a certain point you will need someone to be a little more aggressive, a little more violent, even verbally violent. You will need to feel some fear, the suddenness and the explosiveness of an attack. With time we need to make it feel real, physically and psychologically.
At what stage in one's training this becomes necessary as always been a matter of disagreement. In my early years of karate training our school began with sparring, full contact fighting, almost at the beginning, while other schools required students to reach the rank of green belt before they could engage in even light sparring.
I would say for each person that stage comes at a different time. I would start training, and then hopefully later on get someone interested enough to be willing to share the experience and train with you. In time, more aggressive training will be needed. Our goal is to prepare you to be able to handle any type of sudden, unexpected violence in the street, in the home, in a car. We are here to help you.
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