[I had several different titles in mind for this one, ranging from "How to Push a Girl's Buttons: Sparring Edition", to "Punching Girls in the Face", to my personal favourite alternative, "Didact Beats Up Short Chick, Hilarity Ensues", but I prefer to keep things simple. So, without further a-don't, here goes:]

This one is for the ladies. Assuming that any of you can get through this without going into full-blown bratty meltdown, that is.

As I have made clear several times before, it is frankly pointless to spar with women. They are far more prone to injury than men. They move more slowly against men of equivalent or greater size. They lack the strength, speed, and work capacity of men in physical exercise. And they hit like... well, girls. I've had more painful run-ins with a wet towel.

That is not to say, however, that sparring with girls is entirely useless.

In fact, there are times when sparring with a girl who is one-third your size and one-tenth as strong as you can be downright hilarious.

Such an opportunity came up recently during one of my Krav Maga classes. At the end of the class, we all put on boxing gloves and proceeded to engage in some light tag-fighting. This is immensely good fun if you know how to spar- which is to say, you understand what sparring is, and more importantly, what it is not

There are several simple rules to sparring effectively in a training environment:
  1. Sparring is, of course, a dialogue: if you take a hit during sparring, you MUST acknowledge it.
  2. You must never get frustrated. If you keep getting hit at low speed, it's your fault and you need to figure out your mistakes, because clearly you are not defending yourself well enough.
  3. If you're getting overwhelmed at low speed, your natural instinct will be to speed things up. This is a gigantic mistake. If you do this, you will simply signal to your partner that you lack control. This is an open invitation to your partner to hand you some badly needed discipline, in the form of an ass-whoopin'.
  4. Sparring is an opportunity to practice your striking. It is NOT an excuse to engage in full-on melee combat.
  5. If you're up against someone significantly taller and stronger than you... well, you're f***ed, but you can reduce the amount of damage you'll take by moving your feet to get out of trouble where possible.
If you are a woman and you step into a sparring class, your first reaction will be to forget all of this. Please go right ahead and do so, because the consequences for doing this will be very amusing and very enjoyable for the rest of us.

So there I was, at the end of the class, trading light blows with my regular sparring partner, with whom I have a solid rapport. It was a good session- when he tagged me with a good shot, I would acknowledge it, back off for a moment, then come back in, and we'd go back at it, and vice versa.

We then switched to different people, and I started working with an older guy who is still in good shape, but who doesn't spar much, so I kept it light and made sure that he was OK whenever I landed a good hit. Again, same story- if I landed a good hit, he would take it, acknowledge it, and we'd go right back to it. There was no malice or real aggression involved at all- it was a constructive training exercise.

The final switch came around, and I found myself paired against this tiny little 5-foot-nothing chick, about my age or maybe a little younger. In fact, we had done our yellow belt test together, back in the day- and she was the one person in the group to score higher than me, if I remember correctly.

We started sparring, and because I'm not completely heartless, I dialled my punches back to about 25% of full strength- I was hitting her with love-taps, basically. The thing is, I am roughly twice her size and at least five times as strong, with much longer reach, so whenever she came in to punch, she consistently found my glove in her nose, her ear, her mouth, her forehead, or her eyes. (Christ Almighty, that sounds dirty when you read it fast. I'm going to Hell... Though of course it's not like I won't know anyone.)

Actually, it looked sort of like this:

Hey, fighting doesn't always have to be serious...
As time wore on, she got more and more frustrated- and who can blame her? No matter what she tried, she was getting bopped in the face, and I can tell you from personal experience that if you're not used to getting whacked, this is as annoying as having to listen to 10 hours of dubstep. So she started speeding up and throwing wilder punches, with the aim of landing something hard that would stop me from, y'know, punching her.

It was a good plan, with just one major problem: she was trying to hit hard against someone with vastly more muscle, strength, speed, and stamina. Who actually spars on a regular basis. And enjoys the hell out of it.

The natural end result was that, no matter what she tried, she would eat three or four punches for every one that she threw.

For me, of course, this was pure comedy. Behind my mouthpiece, I was doing my absolute level best not to crack up laughing- and believe me, I was putting more effort into not laughing than I was into sparring, because at the end of the session, I wasn't even breathing hard, and this chick was completely spent.

It got to the point where the instructor actually stepped in and advised her to negate my huge advantage in range and height by stepping in under my guard and, uh, hugging me. Now this is actually not bad advice- if you get into a clinch with someone bigger and stronger than you, it is possible to take a moment to recover your breath.

The only problem is that your opponent might just decide to use that time to spike the nearest major organ into paste through a few vicious body shots.

Which, inevitably, is precisely what happened.

I let her get in close, she tried to get me in a clinch, and she ended up taking three hard shots to the kidneys and liver, and several hard shots to the head. And I was still punching at less than 50% of full power.

By the end of the session, I was turning almost blue from the effort of not laughing hysterically on the mat, and she was an angry, spent, irritated puddle of sweat.

Now, lest you think that this post is all about mocking women (which it kind of is), there are in fact some useful lessons to learn here.

The cold, hard truth that modern women need to learn, fast, is that no matter how quick and how skilled and how motivated they are, it is extraordinarily unlikely that they will be able to take a man in a fight. There are exceptions; Katrina Reynolds, Dan 2 (she might actually be Dan 3 by now) was my own teacher's first black belt student from the US, and Avivit Cohen, Dan 3, is a bona fide badass. But they are truly exceptions. The simple fact of the matter is that most women simply will not be able to match a man in terms of size, speed, aggression, or even skill.

So what are the best self-defence options available for women? Well, quite simply, you need to be self-aware, and you need to be carrying a real weapon. I don't care how much Krav Maga you know- even the most skilled practitioners of the art know damn well how dangerous knives are at close range. They're actually more dangerous than guns, at really close ranges, and those who practice the system acknowledge this and respond accordingly.

Also, a gun is the ultimate force equaliser. A man  who deadlifts 500lbs and can break the average woman in two, is still no match for a .38 Luger or Sig. If you're a woman and you have trouble handling guns that are heavy, you can get a decent .22 or a 9mm stub-nosed pistol, which will be much easier to carry.

Most importantly- and this is advice that most modern women just don't seem to understand, for some bizarre reason- be sensible. Don't wander into unsafe areas late at night on your own. Don't pretend that just because you think you know how to kick some guy in the balls or poke him in the eyes, that's going to be enough.

And don't count on men for automatic protection either. It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid and illogical most feminists are these days- they consider women to be equal to or better than men, yet expect men to defend them when the going gets tough or dangerous. Well, we've learned from that and most men today aren't going to do that. For a man, it simply is not worth putting your life in danger to save some unknown woman- you never know how that's going to turn out, and it will probably be bad for you, so why bother?

Women are responsible for their own safety, just like the rest of us, so they should never be stupid about understanding the risks involved on the street. A woman has every right to be armed and to defend herself against aggression, just as a man does. But do not, for one moment, be stupid enough to think that an unarmed woman is in any way equal to an unarmed man. With very rare exceptions, it simply is not so.

BONUS: Check out this video from Fight Quest, from a while back, showcasing both military and civilian Krav Maga, as practiced in Israel itself. If you look really closely, you'll see my teacher right there at the end. (Yes, I've sparred with him. Yes, he is a certified card-carrying Israeli ex-military hardass. And yes, he is death on a pale horse on the mat. When he gets "the face"- we all know what "the face" looks like- then it's time to watch out, because the end result is going to be a bloody nose... at minimum.)


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