Overcoming the fear of sparring a specific opponent, and my bad habits

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Ivan, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    The thing is I don't think there is a trick to it. Except doing it until you can do it well.

    Maby knowing that flinching in sparring makes all of those shots hurt more than staunching them.

    everyone-wants-to-be-a-beast-until-its-time-to-9642905.png
     
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  2. Martial D

    Martial D Senior Master

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    What do you do?
    I know wat I'd do. Spar that guy as much as possible. It will suck. It will be humbling. It will be painful, and you'll probably be a human kick shield for a long time.

    But one day, you'll find a way to hit him. You'll find a way to stop some of his shots, and you will figure out his timing.

    The you that does that will be a much better fighter than the you that wrote this post.

    Bite down and aim at it.
     
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  3. spidersam

    spidersam Orange Belt

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    I disagree with a lot of the people here. I’ve been in your shoes. I spar a lot of people better than me. They kick my A$$. I enjoy and learn from those situations. However, there was one person at my school who was a brown belt (I am currently green) who went too hard and I was afraid to spar every time we sparred. I tried to just get over it and fight my way through it but she was so fast and shut me down to the point of three take downs in ~30-45 seconds. I learned nothing from it and went home angry because no matter what I did I got shut down and the wind taken out of me.

    So one day after class I went up to her and said “Hey I’m having a lot of trouble getting anything through when I spar you cause you’re so fast and I don’t know what to do. Would you mind giving me some tips?” And in that conversation I casually stated she throws a little too hard.

    The next time we sparred? I took her advice which worked. She also threw me less hard and gave pointers mid sparring.

    It wasn’t until I spoke up until I actually learned something.
     
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  4. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    I have also asked "what should I be doing to get past this" when a sparring partner in my club is taller, faster, and more experienced. Getting off the line and never backing straight up were two comments. He still tags me far more than I tag him, but it's not as repetitive and frustrating as it was to both of us before.

    Remember, with club sparring, they're your PARTNER, not your OPPONENT. The purpose of club sparring is not to win per se, but to make both of you better competitors for when you do compete. So don't be afraid to ask a teammate who's constantly cleaning the floor with you for advice.
     
  5. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    There are so many possibilities in why this is going on, and none of us know exactly what’s at play here.

    My initial advice is to talk to the guy. Ask for some pointers. Hopefully that’ll change things.

    Another thought is are you trying to win? Perhaps he’s shutting you down because you’re going too hard and you’re in competition mode instead of actual sparring mode.

    How are you with equal and lower ranks? Are you trying to beat them and/or going too hard? If so, he may be teaching you a lesson here. I’ve seen that many times.

    Maybe there’s no ill-will in either of you. Maybe he thinks you like to go at it and he’s helping you out. There’s a few higher ranks I train with who like to battle with me. Some nights they’ll completely shut me down, other nights they’ll let me work more stuff; but either way we’re going hard and we love it. They’re not that way with most others. They know I want that and like that.

    Redefine winning during sparring. You’re not going to outright win. Focus on one thing. That may be keeping your hands up and not falling for fakes. Move differently so you’re not reaching too far to block a kick, then exposing a target that you get nailed on. Or maybe just working on moving forward when a kick is coming instead of backing up. My point is try to do one thing (over and over again). That’s the point in sparring - to work on flaws rather than trying to win.

    Some advice against a great kicker: stay close. Very close. Keep your hands up and get inside. Get into a range where you can’t kick, but you can punch. And stay there. It takes some time, takes some getting hit, and it takes a lot of balls when you’re just starting it against someone far better than you. But after some time, you’ll get it and force him to change it up.
     
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  6. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    I'm not going to say the opposite, but I'm going to agree with you to the extent tthat you should spar the 3rd dan more. But, make each session a clear learning experience. Approach the guy before class, and be honest with him that you are trying to learn, and are struggling to keep up with him (understandable since your a green belt power sparring a competent 3D). When the session is over, or when class is (depending on which is more appropriate for the time) ask for a debrief on what he saw that you did well, what you could improve on, and for the latter ask for tips on he thinks you could best work on those.

    Higher ranks/more experienced people will almost always respond well to that sort of inquiry.
     
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  7. Gweilo

    Gweilo Brown Belt

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    Completely agree, when you spar with this student, do not enter the session with ideas of being able to strike them, instead use this session to work on your distance and timing work, use his abilities to improve yourself. When you are face to face, try to relax a bit more, try to regulate your breathing, being calmer will help your movement, and don't look at his legs, look at his head neck and shoulder area, usually these areas are where you will pick up on tell tale signs of a strike in its earliest stages, and as already posted start trying to move forward more, if you imagine a clock, and 12 is straight forward, try moving to 1, 2, or 11, 10 o'clock, keep working hard and it will develop.
     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Let me reframe a key point in this, the way it's rolling around in my head. There is always a way to victory (that's what we are training to learn to do), but there are efficient and inefficient methods of finding it. If I want to learn to box, stepping into a bunch of moderate-force sparring session with someone who can maul me (say, a mid-range pro) is inefficient. Working with that same guy with his cooperation can be really helpful. The difference is whether he's trying to beat me, or trying to help me improve. I'll improve faster in the "without cooperation" mode if I spar against someone who's somewhat better than me, but who I can occasionally make progress against.

    To the OP's situation, that means it matters whether this guy is willing to be helpful or not. If he is, OP should spar him more (with the guy willing to give him a post-mortem breakdown, including openings he missed, his own tells, etc.). If he's not, then sparring him a bunch probably isn't as useful as finding someone else who manages some success against the guy and asking for their help.
     
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  9. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I like @spidersam's advice, talk to him, ask for pointers, pick his brain. And look at that as strategy, not as weakness.

    Then - jam him. Put him in a narrow broom closet, don't give him any room to kick. Kickers hate that, I mean really hate it. Stay on him like ugly on ape, don't give him any room at all. You say he doesn't punch much? Good, that's a weakness, exploit it, you take away his kicks he'll have to beat you another way, and you're in the Philly Shell anyway, that puts him at more of a disadvantage than he'll be able to deal with. never give a kicker room to kick.

    I've known a lot of fighters in my day. Fighters who've had to deal with a lot of kickers. I remember when Bill Wallace was PKA champion, he had an upcoming defense of his title against Ron Thivierge out of Rhode Island. Ron Thivierge could really kick, one of those beautiful hell kickers of TKD, just one nasty kicker. I said to Bill, "Watch out for this guy, he can really kick" Bill laughed, patted me on the shoulder and said, "Oh, I'm not about to let him kick. I'm going to be so close to him all he'll be able to do is step back. Let's see how well he kicks with his back on the ropes." And that's just what he did. Smothered him, made him use all hands. And Bill Wallace was the better puncher by far. Beat him with all hands.

    Go jam that boy, stay inside his shirt.
     
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  10. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with you in a sense here. For maximum efficiency, I would guess 2/3rds of the time him going fully at you, and the other third him taking some time to drill with you, go at your level, and help you develop schools would be the best. But not having him go his hardest (not in power, but skill/technique) would be wasting such a great resource. If he's not able/willing to slow down and work at your level a third of the time, then having that other guy whos a bit better than you/a bit worse than him work with you in between bouts would be the best.
     
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  11. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I think even 2/3 is way too much.

    The sparring sessions should be training lessons. If the lesson the green belt needs to learn is humility or respect, then it should be 100% for the whole fight. If the lesson the green belt needs is in strategy or technique, then the sparring session should be enough to push him, but not enough to frustrate him.

    I go back to bench pressing. If I can bench 100 pounds for 10 reps, 140 pounds for 5 reps, and 160 pounds for 1 rep, what weight should I train at? 80 pounds to get a ton of reps in? 100 for sets of 10? Maybe 125 or 140 for more resistance at lower reps? It depends on my goal.

    I've never seen a workout system where I should do max-weight single-rep sets for anything other than a benchmark. 160 would be dumb. It would be even dumber to train at 180 where I can't even lift the bar.

    Sparring is training your mind to use the techniques you've learned. Sparring against someone lower than you is like the 80-100 pound weight. Sparring someone around your level is in the 110-125 where you might be doing medium reps. A higher belt pushing you could be around 140-160, which is good to get in order to see how far you can push yourself. But if the higher belt is the equivalent of trying to bench 200, when you max for 1-rep is 160, then there's no real point. Unless you were bragging about how easy 200 is.

    (I know for some these numbers will be low and for some they will be high, that's why this is hypothetical).
     
  12. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    The issue with the comparison is that the reason you don't want to do that much weight is largely the risk of injury doing it all the time, and body recovery limiting the amount you can do. Sparring, there's no plan for either person to get seriously hurt, and theoretically if the person is that good it shouldn't be an issue. I still think spending most of the time training against the best person you can is the best option.

    That changes if your motivation won't last, or if your goal isn't to get as good as possible as quickly as possible, but if your motivated and want to get good quickly, it's a no-brainer to train against the best guy you can IMO.

    I also think it might be a bit different for you, when you are teaching a bunch of people with different motivation levels, and all of this is with the caveat that fundamentals have been learned.
     
  13. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Like everyone else... spar the guy more. You may never beat him, but if you do it right, you will become better against everyone else. And talk to him. I find I get better responses asking questions like: How should I get close enough? How can I stop getting kicked in the head by your round kick?... Pick specific things to ask about, and you will get more specific answers.

    Here are some more concrete things you can do. Study him. He has patterns, favorite techniques, tendencies and he knows how to pick you apart. Lets say its a front side side kick that he uses a lot. In you class, you can concentrate on the defenses for that kick. Ask other students and your instructor how to better defend that kick. Your goal here is that next time you spar with him... you don't get caught as much by that kick. Move on to the next technique that he uses.

    Learn his patterns and tendencies. Work on counters to those things. You don't have to work with him to work on them. Again you can get ideas from everyone you train with.

    Realize that he has learned your patterns, favorites and tendencies. Surprise him by changing it up. Change things radically from how you initiate. Or start your same old combo, but change the 3rd or 4th technique up. Vary your timing. (instead of 1,2,3 do 1, pause, 2,3 or 1,2, pause 3...)

    Finally, go find some of the threads here about folks starting bjj. Read the advice given. Don't try to win... you won't. Don't try to tap the other guy... you won't. Try to last a few seconds longer before tapping. This you can do. After a while, try improving your position. Then try to reverse it. eventually you will get to tapping them. But, recognize the small wins along the way. Apply this to your sparring with this guy.

    If you approach it right... sparring with him will make you much better, whether or not you ever beat him. (do remember to try what he did to you on other folks... might as well learn along the way)
     
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  14. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    I think it depends on the individual and their compeitiveness.

    Someone with a high competitive spirit is gonna benefit more from being dominated and will push harder to improve.

    Whereas someone with a less competitive spirit will just be beat down more.

    For my son, he improved more working with older students that were rough on him. Forced him to improve quicker so he didnt get knocked around as much.
     
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  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    It still becomes an issue of time-effectiveness. Doing 1 max-weight rep at a time will build your strength slower than doing 6-8 reps at a lower weight.

    Getting completely dominated will be a less efficient way of learning, than to get beaten in a match where you are able to put together some strategy and actually see improvement and see the path to success.
     
  16. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Again that comes back to your definition of success. If I know I can't beat this dude, ever, my goal is to spar him with the goal of blocking a certain number of his shots, or get into a range he doesn't like. I still get dominated, but I get to try specific things in the most difficult way.
     
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  17. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    I kinda disagree.

    Beating the middle of the road opponent doesnt get you any closer to beating the dominate fighter but small improvements against the dominant fighter creates huge improvements against the middle of the road opponent.

    I think that is why my son has had his success. His training partners have always been dominant and it forces him to work harder. Tournaments are easy compared to his training partners.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  18. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    But let me add....you have to have a high competitive spirit. Without that the lesser fighter will just do the same thing over and over and settle for being dominated.
     
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  19. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yup. Which is the issue. If you have the motivation and desire to improve, it'll work. If you don't have that, it'll be pointless. But if we're talking about the best way to approve, I'm going to assume you have that drive (and OP seems to have that spirit from past posts).
     
  20. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    In a Martial sense, there is nothing better in the world than sparring people better than you. Man, it will make you so good.
     

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