I've recently began Krav Maga training and the center that I go to has a highly acclaimed instructor who is also friendly and patient. I love the art and believe it teaches very practical skills.

However, it is hit-and-miss with the other students and these are the people I have to practice with. Many times, my training partner just barely goes through the motions and to put it bluntly, is very "wimpy." I do not like this because it doesn't seem realistic to me at all for how a real fight might be and it even changes muscle-memory when one trains in a weak way. In fact, watching the Israelis on YouTube doesn't seem like they would approve of this at all.

I've also tried a boxing gym and while they don't teach as many techniques for dealing with weapons and realistic street situations, the aggression and "physical factor" is definitely much higher which I like and I do feel that is necessary for actual self defense.

This has to be a common issue. What are some ways to resolve the issue of getting your training partner to become more aggressive during training?

  • 2
    Why would a boxing gym teach techniques for weapons or street situations? Boxing is a combat sport. Their techniques are sport-specific. You should never have a knife pulled on you in the ring during a boxing match, and if you do, the referee should intervene appropriately. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 22:03
  • @polo you completely missed my point which was that “the boxing gym has more activate participants” rather than “the boxing gym should have weapons involved.” No where in my post did I say directly or even imply that a boxing gym “ought to” have weapons training. I simply stated that it did not in comparison with Krav Maga. Which is a fact that you just backed up even.
    – the_endian
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 22:07
  • 1
    Again, you are comparing a sport, which has many training and competition features built for safety, first, with a martial art, with a variety of techniques where, if some newbie thinks that going "hard" is somehow important, can badly injure their training partner. It's because of that "real life" applicability that you have to enter into each new technique with much more care. That's true of any martial art where you learn techniques that can maim or kill. There's really very little comparison between the two. The problem is not your partners. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 22:12
  • @PoloHoleSet Oh ok I get where you’re coming from now. So you’re saying that is also a reason why the aggressiveness is toned down versus in boxing.
    – the_endian
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 22:14
  • The problem may have originated from you being too aggressive (I know - Krav Maga. It's supposed to be aggressive and viscous). I have a similar problem with on of the guys in my mma gym now. I sparred him a couple of times, and probably went a little too hard on him, and now he doesn't even put a good fight. I could see the same thing with myself at the beginning. Just a side-note as to where this could come from. Simple mental domination. Makes you feel good, but takes away potential sparring partner, and changes him into a heavy bag. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 21:36

3 Answers 3


re, Recently

You're new. You're supposed to go easy until the instructor is confident you aren't a hothead and aren't going to hurt his other students. However, with the "wimpy" students, while much depends on the culture of the gym, you could just ask them to go through with more realism. Or, you could approach the instructor, and mention your concerns.

re: Aggression and physical factor; wimpy

I know what a lot of people mean when they use this phrase, but not everyone. You should qualify what you mean. Because often when people use this phrase, they're looking for the "fully resisting" opponent, and that can be just as unrealistic as a "fully compliant" opponent. On the flip side, "wimpy" is also subjective, and doesn't really tell us what you are truly experiencing. Sometimes when an opponent appears to be "wimpy" , that is just them waiting for the right moment for you to apply your "resistance", in order to reverse you. That is a common defensive strategy, but all of these adjectives you're using are very subjective, and without qualifying what you experience, it's hard to objectively understand.

re: Aggression and "physical factor" again

Be careful here, you need to train more and think less. Aggression leads to fatigue and execution of techniques which will land you in jail, or, at the least, allow your opponent to "up the ante" and respond to your aggression. If you were hammering on for points, that'd be one thing. In self-defense, you need to preserve your stamina, and focus on being anywhere in the world except where you're at. If you can leave, but you feel that being aggressive is the better option, you are no longer in a self-defense situation. Indeed: your adversary now has the legal edge. Your goal in self-defense is survival, not winning. If your goal is to be better than the other guy over machismo, perhaps boxing or some such is better for you.

re, Isralis

If you're in the US, get used to the training not being like it is in Israel. Much of what is in the US is not like what it is abroad. And what is often offered for civilians is not what is offered to soldiers and LEO.

re: Boxing

It's a sport, it's not meant for self-defense. In no boxing ring do they teach for weapons, multiple partners, and a great deal many other things. Sport is not meant for self-defense.

re: Youtube

That is not the end-all-be-all place. Many times, what you see is a showcase of the best of the best. You should not expect to be at that level at this stage of your training. Trying to get there too soon will cost you in technique, so don't rush it.

re: Common issue

Yes, this is common. But while you're looking for aggression and physical factor, you need to remember that there's also technique, balance, breathing, self-awareness, environmental awareness, and a host of other things you can be working on - even with "wimpy" opponents. If your opponent is truly not pulling his or her weight, and it's not about skill (or lack therein), then your best action would be to work with your instructor. Your instructor, if he's any good, will likely know your opponents are wimpy and would have been trying to fix that. That being the case, don't bother the instructor with this, it's already being dealt with. If it's not the case (that the wimpy students are being worked on) then it means that the instructor isn't doing his job. As you are new there, it would take awhile for you to discern the difference.

It is also common for students to compare their instruction to what they see on YouTube. Don't buy into this!

It is also common for new students to be very gung-ho about their training, and to be disappointed because of expectations aren't met. Yet.

  • 1
    +1. I love the comment about how "wimpy" might just be the facade before you overextend and your opponent reverses the situation on you. It's so easy to believe that your own perceptions of strength and danger are accurate. I also love the point "when you are new, you're supposed to go easy." I can't count the number of people who really needed to learn that lesson!
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 2:09
  • 1
    "Isralis If you're in the US, get used to the training not being like it is in Israel. Much of what is in the US is not like what it is abroad. And what is often offered for civilians is not what is offered to soldiers and LEO." Most IDF infantry is not trained in hand to hand to combat. To them, Krav maga means rifle combat.
    – Btuman
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 19:59

From my experience, there are two dimensions: benefit from training and control over motion and actions, and I think you only touch upon one of them (the former).

I think, from that, it follows that there are two points:

  • Control/ Safety: I have attended a couple of Krav schools and the most important takeaway for me was: don't do things you can't control (this is a safety issue!). Especially when it comes to people who don't know their limits yet (which, not sure about your level, you might be part of) but want to go full force: that's how injuries happen. (Related to that are also questions of masculinity and feeling like one needs to be tough, so you might want to reflect on to what extent the "tough guy" image, which is very dangerous when it comes to training, influences your thoughts on that. This point doesn't just influence you but also your partner! If you are going too hard and can't control and stop at any point when your partner "taps", you are putting them in danger! Don't do that!

That being said:

  • Training benefit: if you're not realistically simulating attacks, the training benefit is limited. This is true. The instructor is in charge of telling people how to "attack" and train properly. However, they're also in charge of safety - and therefore it's not up to you to decide how strong someone else can go (maybe including yourself, if your instructor tells you to go more slowly/ gently/ whatever). If you have an issue with the general atmosphere, it'd be best to talk to the instructor, since they are the only one who can responsibly decide about the way they teach and want people to attack. (Maybe they have good reasons for whatever they're doing.)

Train safely and don't try to go too strong too soon. ;)


Go to an mma gym. Start sparring. Get your ego checked. If you want to learn about knife fighting, find an mma gym which does arnis too

  • Poorly said, but it's true. An MMA gym is the best place for hard sparring. Everyone is there expecting the same thing.
    – coinbird
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 15:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.