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small people vs. big. Krav Maga and sparring.

Discussion in 'The Martial Arts Forum' started by ForGreatJustice, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. Hi guys. This is a simliar topic to the women thread below, but I'd like to get a bit more technical with my question. I'm 5'4", 140 lbs. I have always had a very difficult time visualizing and implementing proper grappling mentally, and have always had a predilection for striking. I've taken up a year of Krav Maga at our local ATA franchises, and progressed pretty well.

    My problem? I get owned when sparring. Consistently, no matter what I've tried. A lot of my favored techniques in KM can't be practiced well against a live opponent for safety reasons (i.e. the front "door" kick), but I constantly find my extremely short reach to be a handicap when sparring. I feel its important to learn the sense of distance, when doing so, but I don't feel like I have any way to threaten my opponent. I receive a lot of conflicting advice from the instructors (get in close, stay far away, move in and out, etc) and all of it comes up lacking. It's impossible for me to get close enough to land a punch to a 6', 240lb. man without giving him an excellent opportunity to bash my skull in. There are a lot of kicks which I practice frequently but at our school, we do not spar with them because of safety concerns. Really, only tae-kwon do style side kicks and round kicks to the common peronial (sp?) are used.

    Does anyone have some basic guidelines and actually being able to threaten my opponent? Because I'm getting very minimal value out of sparring practice due to the fact that I am either always dancing, never fighting, or foolishly rushing in once I get frustrated, and getting knocked out. I feel that fighting against a live opponent is one of the best forms of practice, but it seems so easy for everyone else, and so hard for me.
  2. gr81disp

    gr81disp Bushbot v1.0

    Sep 19, 2004
    Marietta, GA
    Defense, Defense, Defense.

    I know that it is really frustrating to me as a big guy when a little guy has really good defense. I tend to tire out or make a mistake, then I get caught.

  3. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    I'm sure that everyone reading this has, on numerous occasions, seen those fire boxes which have a label reading "In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass". Have any of you ever wondered whether the contents of such boxes (alarm pulls, water hoses, etc.) will actually function if needed?

    Obviously, the prudent business owner today doesn't rely upon the hope that the equipment will function- many businesses regularly test the fire extinguishers, test alarm pulls, replace the batteries in smoke detectors, drill fire evacuations, and so forth.

    The reason this is done, is because in the past, too many people have died when their reliance upon "In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass" fire equipment failed them. So, the equipment is tested regularly to make sure such occurrences won't happen again.

    This thread illustrates very well why I have a problem with the notion of "(insert technique) is too badass to be practiced". Such techniques are the combative equivalent of "In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass".

    We can take it as assured, that anything which is practiced under duress, will likely succeed under duress- and the converse, that anything not practiced under duress, will likely fail under duress.

    To this end, it is folly to rely upon any technique to "save our skins" which can't be practiced under duress beforehand- and futility to continue to train under an instructor who claims otherwise.

    If the 'sparring' being executed is something along the lines of "We'll practice (insert material), but remember that, in a real fight, you'll be able to use (insert unpracticed technique) and it'll be over", then the sparring is a waste of time. Invoking the "special" technique is like tapping out, but performed by nage rather than uke. In other words, uke has won the match.

    As for sparring- the advice I give, is that you need to learn to move. Undoubtedly, if you have an instructor who believes in one-shot-stop fight-ending moves (which are "too wicked" to be practiced), he's also not teaching you many needed skills, such as how to move well.

    What is needed, is for you to have a fundamental, paradigm shift in combative mentality- and this can only begin, by taking up training with a different instructor, probably in a different method.

    Obviously, if your instructor insists on having you remain the class punching bag, rather than teaching you (individually) how to compensate for your stature, skill level, etc., then he and his instruction are a waste of money for you.
  4. FifthFreedom


    Jul 6, 2005
    Did you start out sparring with people that much bigger than you? Sparring should be started out slowly and worked into when going full contact. Start out with someone your size and weight or at least close to it. As you become more experienced with it, you get better and better. Its true we can't realistically kick oither people full force int he groin, gouge eyes, and kick out peoples knees while sparring. Sparring is to teach you overall good stand-up fighting skills, to learn what it's like to hit another person and also how to deal with getting hit yourself. Best thing to do is move. With me when I was just kickboxing, I found getting inside a taller person was good because I could tear up his ribs nad because his arms were longer, would often have to try and push me away which would open up his face for a good overhanf right.
  5. I am beginning to agree with a lot of the unpleasant truths you put forth. I selected Krav Maga as a form because I felt it best suited my nature and my goals, but I've often heard that learning from a good instructor is much more important than picking any one method. I can kind of see why that is true. I wonder where I can find some good resources on instructors in the Orlando area who are highly recommended for combatives?

    Also, I'd hate to say it, but everything I've ever heard about getting "inside" an opponent, that is to say, so close he/she cannot throw an effective punch at you seems to be a myth. Maybe in a phone booth its possible, but on a mat with lots of open space? Forget it. It's possible to throw a completely debilitating hook to someone who is strapped directly to your chest. Even an amateur just has to take the tiniest step back to once again have all the room necessary.

    Given what I've read here, I'm going to try and focus on defense, and proper movement (which is the only thing keeping me from getting K.O.'d all the time). The movement is good at preventing me from getting hit, but I've yet to find a way to move that is conducive to offense.
  6. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    I'll look into this and get back to you, probably via PM.
  7. Ducman


    Oct 26, 2003
    When I am trying to move in on any size opponent. I try to get to the weak side. Instead of going straight in, go in at a 45 degree angle to the weak side(usually left)
  8. FifthFreedom


    Jul 6, 2005
    Not Quite. If you ever boxed, you know that getting a taller opponent against the ropes and tearing up the inside can be quite effective.
  9. Skpotamus


    Oct 14, 2003
    Terre Haute, IN
    Do you do any clinch work at your school? A good thai "plumb" or under hooks work well to nullify a person with longer reach. Being a taller person for my weight, (I fought 170lbs, while being 6'1") I know trying to get my long arms into a locked up clinch is almost impossible.

    Getting inside on a taller opponent is usually only accomplished when:

    1) your opponent isn't moving at all AND you can move before they can react
    2) Your opponent is moving into you and you use that forward movement to slam into him.
    3) you can use terrain to limit movement and pin your opponent (IE a wall, car etc)

    If your opponent is doing #1, then you shouldn't have any problem at all, #3 is almost as easy, especially if you practice with a padded wall. Let's focus on #2. Your opponents have to extend to strike, work on your parry's and redirections, Wait for an opportunity where your opponent is throwing a strike at you, use your redirection and come inside with their strike. A good example is off of a right cross -
    1) opp throws right cross
    2) you parry with your left hand knocking punch to your right as you lower level and come forward
    3) drive your right shoulder into opponents armpit
    4) Keep your head up and put your ear on his shoulder to stop elbows and headlock/chokehold attemps
    5) wrap your arms around midesction, keepign opponents side against your belly button
    from there you can work knees into thighs, groin and midsection, tailbone, spine, kidneys etc, as well as being in a good position for a lifting throw that would leave you in good control position to finish on the ground.

    You can do similar things off of kicks.

    Another option for getting close is a flurry of strikes that you can follow in behind.

    My recommendation would be to look around for a school where you can actively practice techniques that you train (as RES said above), I woudl suggest a more comabt oriented school, such as a Muay Thai gym, a MMA school, or a hardcore traditional MA school, a hint on the last one is to look for a school with a good portion of police or military people in it.

    hope this helps
  10. kravgrl


    Jul 25, 2005
    I'm 5'3, 115lbs and have been in Karv for over 3 years. It is hard to fight a larger person and nerarly everyone is larger than me. We spar at our school and tall guys with good arm reach have nailed me plenty of times. If you are hoping for one or two moves that will take a big guy out you may not find it but being small has it's advantages too. If you get inside try an elbow to the zyphoid. You can still cover up and throw a good knee too. I also discovered I am faster then the bigger people and they wear out faster than I do.
    You will have to be fast and sneaky!!

    Are there any other Krav schools in your area that do spar? You can't get good without it. I also agree you should round out your training with other training. I'm glad we have boxing and ground fighting!!
  11. blasto

    blasto 7 of 9 (lives)

    Mar 8, 2000
    Atlanta GA
    Get dirtier. =)

    Don't let them fight "their" fight. Make them fight YOUR fight. Get lower & start kicking some calves/knees/ankles.
  12. mewler


    Sep 19, 2004
    Seattle, Wa
    Im 5'10 200 lbs, I am very strong .. 36 years old. I have only been a student of Krav Maga for a couple months. My own observations on size in sparring is nil, but I do see strenght having more impact than size. . .unless your very very small, and your partner is very big .. But if a guy is 6'1, or 6'2 . .I see no handicap at my 5'10 height.
  13. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Especially suggestions on clinching and inside techniques. For some reason the instructor running our school keeps breezing a bunch of guest instructors (of varying skill levels) through our school. Must be some kind of money issue, but we can't seem to go longer than two weeks without changing assistant instructors.

    One of them was very combat oriented and didn't accept flawed technique, which was very good. He demonstrated several moves that would allow working into a clinch from a common redirect. Once in the clinch (which is kind of hard in boxing gloves where you can't get a lot of grasp), hooks and knees can be thrown with a reasonable amount of power. I have yet to successfully employ the technique on my own, but then we only spar once a week (which isn't enough, but I can only make it to class three times a week, usually). I feel its due in part to the limitations of my school, and my own life's limitations.

    There ARE advantages to being small, not the least of which is being able to easily evade most strikes, and having (I think) slightly better stamina (IF you have kept yourself in shape).

    What is a "Thai plumb"?
  14. Skpotamus


    Oct 14, 2003
    Terre Haute, IN
    Thai Plumb or clinch position: Both hands are on the crown of your opponents head (NOT neck), your elbows are squeezed together on teh sides of his neck with teh points of the elbows digging into the chest just below collar bone. For full control, pull your hands down adn put your chin on your hands. From this position, you are able to control your opponent and throw knees and elbows easily.

    Here is a pic of a fighter attempting to get clinch control BTW, this site has some excellent material and is well worth checking out.

    Control: Once you get their head down, you don't just stand there, you whip them back and forth from side to side. The result if done properly is that your opponent is whipped around and is totally defensive.

    Underhooks will be more advantageous for a shorter fighter, take a look at Randy Coutore fights at sherdogs.... bottom row, second from right is a decent picture of underhook control, Couture&t_id=&my_page=3

    and here, 4th row down, first picture is Kevin Randleman (black guy) trying to get underhooks on Ron Waterman, Waterman is defending, randleman is attempting to link his hands together on Watermans upper back (between shoulder blades). Randleman

    btw, teh entry type I described in my earlier post will give you head outside control, which works great for throwing knees to both the groin and abs, as well as the spine and tail bone. It's also a good position to throw and trip from.

    hope this helps
  15. RuneThorn


    Feb 13, 2005
    I dont like to say much so I'll say it quick I hope

    Small guys kick ass, dont let anyone tell you different

    Your center is lower and reach shorter (great for in close fighting which is were you should be, attacking not letting up.

    Longer limbs give that first intitial advantage when closing the gap and covering distance.

    In warfare there is a saying, the faster unit decides the range of battle. There should not be blows traded! hit and hit and hit he will defend defend defend, thats the idea. Open him up. When he steps back you step matching him if he stumbles your mind should be sharp enough to follow him with no gap created and as his ass touches the ground your fist should be attached to his gums!

    Longer reach suck for grappling except for levering chokes w legs or arms. And round kicks where the longer limb gives more centrifugal force. Long limbs are easy to get around and under and through.

    Have the balls to attack with mushin "empty mind". Like in combat you gotta attack regardless if the enemy is firing at you unless you break contact and the get the hell out. Then again running is never an option in h2h. Your only option should be to win.

    Get in close using your balls to get you there. Once there no prob attack legs with de ashi bari as you attack with punches or take down or whatever. He will be off balanced and vulnerable.

    One Leg kick done properly will hurt your opponent in close. Many leg kicks done properly will render his close to immobile then manuever will take the day! Screen leg kicks with punches and crap like that, it's all pretty simple.

    Balls will take you along way,That is what so many people lack.

    Regarding grappling, Man it is too simple to get out of grappling, just don't play the game. Often times you can just stand right up and step back and smile. Of coarse there is 17 years NHB experience saying it is easy but seriously it is. There is alot more to all this than I am writing but remeber I'm trying to keep it short!!:)

    I'm not going to explain who I am or what I do. Just keep it simple, direct, aggressive, and unrelenting. I've seen a little technique go along way in this manner.

    Good Luck

    PS: I'm not short, but do love training shortys.
  16. Thank you Skop. I have been working on clinching and closing techniques since I put up this post and got responses but haven't really had a chance to practice them in serious sparring. One of the problems I have had is learning the difference between having balls and rushing in to get hammered. More often than not, when I do rush the opponent, he is easily able to find an opening and strike.
  17. Skpotamus


    Oct 14, 2003
    Terre Haute, IN
    FGJ, I would recommend against just rushing straight in, a skilled striker is going to use lateral movement and pepper you with strikes. You need to do something similar to stop that from happening, create an angle and rush in on that breif opening created thru your footwork.

    EXample: you and your opponent are facing off in orthodox leads (left legs forward). If your opponent is standing still, his immediate are of attack opening is directly in front of him, as you get farther off of his centerline, his attack options diminish, as do the attack options power in most cases.
    To get off his centerline, take a diagonal step forward with your right leg, try to get off at a 45 degree angle, and quickly get yourself set in your stance. (At first a hoppign kind of motion is typically seen until your footwork comes easier).
    Your opp will naturally turn to face the threat of the new attack, but befer he does, his feet are crossed relative to you, This is your entry line... GO! Come in a little low and hard, keeping your guard up until your hands in guard position are close enoguh to touch, then do your clinch. If you can time it right, your opponent will still be turning to face you and will be unable to mount any significant offense. (a left handed weak backfist is all most can muster, some good kickers can slip a side kick in, but that you can deal with pretty easily, a spinnign technique can be common here, but typically that just leads to someone with good footwork getting their back by stepping forwards and left into the opponents back).

    For circling opponents: if you are both circling left (clockwise if seen from above), the move above works with no modifications

    For opponents circling right (counter clockwise), take the step forward and left with your lead leg and defend. If your opponents reaction is to punch, use the technique I wrote abotu above off of a punch defense, if his reaction is to kick, you can usually defend the kick by stepping deeper (think lunge) into him and throwing your right hand hard down the centerline into his chest, you're idea isn't necessairly to impact him hard, but to PUSH through him with it, many times this will knock a guy on his butt, if not, it will knock them back, takign all power from kick and putting them off balance, and ....what's that behind you? A right leg back and ready to knee or kick? Or step forward if they move too far backwards to chase them down.

    Another little note on footwork, YOU ARE ALWAYS IN A GOOD STANCE!!! anything else and you are either hitting (in the act of striking), or getting hit. Practice moving so you are in your stance. IE, take a step to your right so you land in your stance, take a step left so you're in your stance. Forward, backwards, diagonally, etc. Always stay in your stance.

    A good drill is to make yourself a tape, give each direction a number (mine break down to look like this cool little graphic below:

    1 F 2
    5 X 6
    3 B 4

    X is starting, F is forward, etc. On your tape, call out a number, followed by a technique. Meaning that when you move to that direction, you perform that technique. "1, Right Cross" "4, Front kick".... make yourself a long tape and start at random places in it to mix up the workout. If you have to adjust your stance after you move to throw a technique, then your stance is wrong and needs work. Don't sacrifice your base to try to hit... it'll only lead to you getting hit.

    Hope this helps, if you have any questions about the stuff above, just ask in a PM or post.

    Good Training
  18. Guest

    I have to say, what a great analogy followed by well-reasoned advice.
  19. Roundeyesamurai

    Roundeyesamurai Sensei Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Upstate New York
    Why, TYVM!
  20. Thanks again Skop. Moving into clinch range is the key (and getting out again). My stance is usually pretty good, but of course, getting hit or whatever can compromise it once in a while if I don't have my head on straight. I'm going to give some of these techniques a shot, and try to be sure not to break up footwork. I'll also give the directional drill a shot.