I hate sparring. I love sparring.

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by AngryHobbit, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Senior Master

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2017
    Messages:
    2,188
    Likes Received:
    533
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    North Carolina
    After eight years of a more traditional aikido training, with challenging but somewhat scripted attack lines, some grappling, and some striking (but with the instruction to never touch the target if practicing striking with a person), I've now had some exposure to sparring - and I am convinced: it is necessary.

    Yes, at our class, sparring is still not like an actual fight. The environment is still controlled. We can request to increase the speed or dial down. We can set conditions. We wear gloves. And yet... there is something eminently educational about getting tapped with some force - even if it's a padded tap. I don't think practicing blocks without sparring for eight years had taught me as much about blocking effectively as a few sparring sessions I've recently had.

    Two added bonuses about sparring for me, personally. One, as a bullying survivor, learning to spar helps me strengthen the non-victim mentality. It's not that I pound my sparring partners into a pulp (as I used to wish I could do with bullies as a child) - in fact, my instructor keeps telling me I am still too nice. But there is something to be said for the self-esteem boost one gets when managing to sneak past the opponent's defenses.

    Two, I wear 14-oz boxing gloves when sparring. If I remember correctly, it's the lightest boxing glove, but I am five feet short and have small hands and short arms - so, suddenly growing a pair of 14-oz fists makes for one hell of a wrist, arm, and shoulder workout. It's torture but it's fantastic.

    Would love to hear about other sparring experiences and advice.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2016
    Messages:
    3,147
    Likes Received:
    1,108
    Trophy Points:
    253
    Personally I don't think sparring is essential. I competed in boxing, kickboxing and mma for over 15 years and I sparred maybe 4 times during that entire time. The rest of it was simply drills and pads. But yes sparring can be fun and a good stress reliever.

    Also 14 oz isn't anywhere near the lightest proffesional fighters in boxing/ kickboxing mainly use 10 oz for fights and some use 8 oz but the smallest is 4 oz which is used by mma fighters (and some Muay Thai are starting to use that size as well)
     
  3. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Senior Master

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2017
    Messages:
    2,188
    Likes Received:
    533
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thank you - I didn't realize there were even lighter boxing gloves. I knew there were some lighter ones in kempo - but not in boxing. I appreciate the correction.
     
  4. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2016
    Messages:
    3,147
    Likes Received:
    1,108
    Trophy Points:
    253
    14 oz is a good weight for training though. You don't want smaller gloves for sparring otherwise that can cause unnecessary damage to your training partners. In fact most professionals spar in 16 oz or even 20 oz gloves. I've always used either 12 or 14 and unless you're going to fight in the ring there's really no need to wear lighter
     
  5. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Senior Master

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2017
    Messages:
    2,188
    Likes Received:
    533
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    North Carolina
    14 oz definitely make for a good workout. I am still teaching myself to fist my hands correctly inside the gloves - because there is so much room, I find myself clenching them in a death grip, as if that glove can go anywhere, what with being wrapped to my wrist. :)

    And yes, I do love the padding. In the past, I shied away from using strikes - I simply felt very little motivation to do all that work, dodge the other person's invariably longer arms and legs, and get within my range. I'd just wait for my opponent to go for a grab and become attached to me, so I could do a joint lock.

    I am definitely rediscovering strikes. Even with short reach and short height, there are still good targets available, once you get into the opponent's "dead zone" - ribs, sides, back, stomach, groin. Good training... And yes - fun and stress relief thrown in for good measure. I often hear both my grandmothers in my head, telling me how unladylike it all is, and laugh the whole time.
     
  6. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,563
    Likes Received:
    1,972
    Trophy Points:
    403
    Location:
    In the dojo
    I think your teacher sucks. Waiting all that time to spar, then sparring non-contact and all. Run, don’t walk away! You’ve found yourself a classic McDojo. Next thing you’re going to tell me you can’t leave due to some sacred bond or some cult-like thing. Cut your losses and never see that clown again. You’ll thank me some day, trust me.

    :) :) :) :)
     
    • Funny Funny x 3
    • Dislike Dislike x 1
  7. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    3,643
    Likes Received:
    852
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    New York
    Having a real hard time deciding between 'agree' and 'funny'
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Encho

    Encho Green Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    29
    Trophy Points:
    28
    My take on sparring is a lot of people rush into sparring without going over their fundamentals and drilling them,so when they actually spar it is just haymakers and sloppiness. I personally find drills to be better for reaction and build your resistance gradually without resorting to sloppiness.
    I think sparring has its place,mostly more as a conditioning but sparring and actually fighting at least in my experience are nowhere the same.
     
  9. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    3,643
    Likes Received:
    852
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    New York
    Nothing at all against your fighting style, or style in general, but I love sparring people like you. My goal is to outstrips strikers (which works sometimes, sometimes it doesnt), or move in a way to tempt grapples to try grabbing my while I slip in an out of grappling range. That's my speciality, and I have to say I am really good at it.

    It's important to practice and be good at other tactics so that when you face someone who is well matched against your normal plan, you can change that.
     
  10. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2015
    Messages:
    6,153
    Likes Received:
    1,768
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Welcome to the club. I wouldn't know as much kung fu without sparring. It's one thing to learn the forms and something totally different than trying to apply it. Sparring brings timing and strategy into the equation and learning how to apply a technique in the context of that timing and strategy is vital if anyone hopes to be able to apply advanced techniques.

    It's close enough to make you a better fighter. I don't think I've ever seen anyone suck at actually fighting because they sparred. Sparring allows a student to train some of the same mechanics that are used in real fighting. For example, someone who would assume that I wouldn't sweep them in a real fight will quickly learn differently. The mechanics that I use to sweep in sparring are the same mechanics I would use in a real fight. The only real difference in terms of a sweep is the intensity level at which its done.
     
  11. donald1

    donald1 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Messages:
    3,140
    Likes Received:
    526
    Trophy Points:
    213
    I love sparring! All those attacks you threw. The times you missed, we're blocked or just plain knocked your opponent flat on their backside. Just thinking about all those bruises you got brings back memories. :D

    Also... What do you mean class sparring isn't real sparring??? If I throw a punch at my opponent and they decide NOT to block it hurts! :eek:
     
  12. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,563
    Likes Received:
    1,972
    Trophy Points:
    403
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Give it a dislike :)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  13. Encho

    Encho Green Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    29
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Your miles may vary, actually fighting and sparring are just two different animals at least sparring in a gym and actually having a street encounter at least in my experience. Now after over 18 years on forums these rehash arguments are really beating dead horses with different chess pieces IF YOU feel it works for you and your methodology and frame of reference and hold that opinion then you have that right however myself and others find sparring not revelant to actual combative self defense and just a tool in a tool box. Fortunately or unfortunately I really don't spend much time on forums responding so forgive me if I don't respond back to your initial post.
     
  14. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,563
    Likes Received:
    1,972
    Trophy Points:
    403
    Location:
    In the dojo
    I view MA like the science classes I teach...

    Basics, forms/kata, and prearranged drills are the textbook and lecture sections of class. Sparring and resistive partner work are the lab portion. The lab portion of class is where you take that textbook information and apply it by testing it.

    I’ve seen people do great with the textbook stuff. Then they’re clueless when they get to the lab portion. I’ve seen people look great with the basics, kata, hitting bags and pads, etc.; then it all epically falls apart in free-sparring. Sparring forces you to constantly adapt. And it teaches you to take a hit and keep going, and to keep going when things didn’t exactly work out like you thought they would and/or should.

    People can argue sparring’s carry-over to an actual street encounter, but at the very least learning the lessons I mentioned above give you a far better chance than just doing basics and kata against the air and all compliant drills with no resistance; at least sparring teaches you that not everything is going to go as planned no matter how pretty you’ve made it look.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  15. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,890
    Likes Received:
    4,666
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Maui
    I couldn't have trained with ninety percent of my instructors if I didn't spar/roll. A class maybe, or a seminar, but not actual training. What a shame that would have been, at least to me.

    To me, without some form of sparring, it's like making it to third base, and getting stranded there.

    Spoke to a buddy's son about ten years ago. I had hooked him up with a dojo and he called several years later, still at it. In passing he said that he really loved watching boxing and MMA now, because he knew what he was actually seeing. I had never thought about that. He's got a pretty good point.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Martial D

    Martial D Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Messages:
    2,015
    Likes Received:
    608
    Trophy Points:
    213
    It's a tool in a tool box Insomuch as actual doing any activity you want to get good at is a tool to get good at doing it.
     
  17. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    3,643
    Likes Received:
    852
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    New York
    Good idea. I need to stand up for my fellow forum members.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  18. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Messages:
    15,549
    Likes Received:
    3,456
    Trophy Points:
    308
    My advice

    You know when people say sparring isn't about winning and loosing?

    They are wrong. Not trying to win protects your ego from loss.

    It is emotionally devastating to try as hard as you can for something important and to fail. Sparing you can do that twenty times a night every night until trying as hard as you can becomes automatic and loosing drives you rather than destroys you.

    In martial arts it is that lesson learned that will make you ferocious and humble.
     
  19. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,563
    Likes Received:
    1,972
    Trophy Points:
    403
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Depends on the night, circumstances, person, etc. I’ve sparred plenty of times where where my goal was to do a specific thing; be it to work my jab, stay in a specific stance, only step forward while blocking, and so on. Or only genuinely stopping a specific attack or stop bringing my head down when I move to in and to my right (something that’s been plaguing me lately for some odd reason). Basically, forcing myself to do something that needs work. When I’m in that mindset I “lose” 90% of the time of you don’t know what I’m actually doing. Without doing that, I constantly do the same thing every single time and won’t realistically ever improve.

    I guess winning needs to be defined. I’ve got no problem with losing on a traditional scoreboard if I’m working on something specific. If winning means I accomplished the goal I set forward, then yeah, I’m out to win every time. And I’m not emotionally devastated when I don’t accomplish it. I get pretty aggravated with myself, but definitely not an emotional breakdown by any means.

    Except that one night a week where I lock myself in the locker room and cry in the corner for an hour and a half until I realize I’m still mommy’s special little boy. It’s all good again once she says she’s proud of me no matter what. :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  20. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Senior Master

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2017
    Messages:
    2,188
    Likes Received:
    533
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I was thinking about the difference about sparring and an actual street fight. And I don't mean to minimize the importance of it at all - or the effectiveness. I was just thinking of the two differences between sparring and, say, a brawl that might erupt next to you at a bar or a club. One, sparring is planned. You go to class, your instructor says, "We are having a sparring class today". Or you ask, "Hey, sensei, my partner and I would like to spar today." You choose to spar. You might not always have a choice before getting pulled into a fight. You can choose not to participate and make your way out of it as quickly as you can. But you don't get to pick the exact time it might erupt around you.

    Two, in sparring, you can work with your partner on specific attacks, you can impose rules (no head punches today), you can ask to speed up or slow down. No such option in a street fight. You can't exactly say to some thug looking for trouble, "I am sorry, I have a nasty cold today, you mind dialing back your punches a little?" :)
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page