Nice article on sparring

We came across an interesting article called “Martial Arts Sparring: Basics You Need To Know“. We found it to be full of interesting bits of advice and opinions on sparring. The article isn’t specific to any particular style of martial arts, but it still was noteworthy enough to include here and share with our students and families. Here are some of the pull quotes, but you should certainly check out the entire article.

Remember… your main goal is to learn, not to beat the shit out of your opponent. If you keep this in mind it will be easier for you to stay calm an relaxed, it´s also very important to choose the right sparring partner and equipment.

This is such an important point to not forget. When you train with us, you are doing just that – training. You are not on a sports show where everyone is being measured and performance compared. If you are competing against anyone, it is yourself. So when you are sparring, you should view this is a training drill, and like this author says, relax. Nobody has ever judged or shamed anyone for losing a points-match against a lower-ranked opponent. Staying relaxed is counter-intuitive in an exercise that is meant to simulate a fight, but if you do it, especially during points sparring, you will be able to learn so much more.

Approach sparring with learning in mind, without caring about what others may think. If you do, you will be relaxed and willing to try new things. Work on your defense, your offense, your weaker points, your timing, your distance… see where I am going. Get out of your comfort zone. With time and diligent practice, this approach will turn you into a more versatile more skillful martial artist.

This is key as well. When sparring, especially free-form sparring with no points, you should not go into it with the mindset of trying anything and everything. For each match, try working on something specific. Maybe challenge yourself – try hand techniques only, or foot techniques only, or maybe all kicks should be spinning kicks. This will challenge your brain as well as your body. You can even put another restriction on yourself and use only your less dominant hand or foot. After all, what if you injure your dominant side for real and must continue on? How will you compensate for your degraded position? These are situations that can occur, and when you can, use your sparring as part of your training, instead of a blind flailing of your arms and legs.

Pretty soon you will feel more comfortable and gain more confidence. Once you have a certain skill level, you should spar with as many different  types of martial artist as you can. Tall, shorts, fast, strong… any kind! The more diverse people you spar the better you will become…
If you want to become really good… approach sparring as a learning experience. I  can´t stress this enough! Work at your weaker points and develop you stronger ones.

This is a great point – mix it up. We tend to pair students together based on similar size, but when I am teaching, I go by rank, which almost always mixes it up. After all, again, in the real world, you will not always find yourself in a comfortable situation against someone your own height and weight. Choosing different partners of different sizes, shapes, ages, and abilities will also exercise your brain. A taller partner will be able to keep you at bay with kicks supported by long legs, but you can counter this by sneaking in close when these kicks are off target. A tall person is especially vulnerable from below since they are so tall and so removed from a speedy, shorter opponent.

Check out the rest of this article: Martial Arts Sparring: Basics You Need To Know

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