Sparring...what is it and is it worth doing?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Tez3, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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  2. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    As I said in the other thread, yes, I feel that sparring is important, as 1 of the many training methods. I really can't add anything new to this thread, other than what I've already been preaching..lol. Yes, sparring, IMHO, is important. Whether you're sparring stand up or sparring rolling in BJJ, it provides the student with an arena to test what they know, in an unrehearsed area.

    Once again, its not all that should be done, but it needs to be done. A golfer trains his swing, his various shots, etc, over and over and over. When he goes onto the course to play against someone else, that is his sparring. A blue belt in BJJ learns a new choke. Its drilled numerous times. He rolls with another student, to test his new choke. Can he pull it off on someone who is actively resisting? This is simply my opinion. A real world fight is unpredictable. If you can't pull your stuff off against unpredictable attacks in the dojo, what're you going to do in the real world? And yes, before anyone brings up the differences between the real world and training, yeah, I'm not clueless...I'm aware of the differences. However, firefighters, LEOs, Military, all conduct training exercises to simulate what they will face in their respective profession.
     
  3. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sparring is useful when you are working on something specific.
    Sean
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Sparring. I've said many times that I think sparring is critical. Unscripted, free flowing drills are where you develop the skills necessary to build competence and eventually expertise.

    But, I also think that it's important to remember this. What is it? Fun.

    Is it worth doing? Yes, even if the only benefit is that it's fun.

    I know that the thread will move into learning theory and all that, but bottom line for me, and i believe most modern martial artists, is that we train for fun. If you like the competitive element, you will want to spar. If you don't, you will find a style that supports your inclination.
     
  5. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    What however is sparring? Is it two martial artist padding up and going for it full contact or is it an extension of the drills? I think the misundrstandings come when there's no definition of what we think sparring is and how we do it.Are some people calling fighting sparring?
    Can you learn to fight without sparring? How do you learn to judge distances, reactions etc if you don't spar at all?
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    The key ingredient for me is that it is unscripted. It can be limited, but it must be unscripted.
     
  7. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    IMO, its 2 people competing against each other. Sparring seen in BJJ will be different than say Kyokushin. BJJ will be focusing on submissions, escapes, reversals, counters, etc. Both parties will be using all of their tools, to submit the other. As for the gear...it all depends on what you want. Personally, I like to wear as little as possible, as I feel that too much, is a hinderance. If we're talking about stand up sparring, the idea, IMO, is to test your striking, blocking, footwork, kicking, etc, against another person, trying to do the same. Contact will vary from art to art.

    No, I dont feel that you can learn to fight without sparring. While not the same, its the next closest thing.
     
  8. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    When we spar, we are told how long for and how hard to go, it's never full on, often it's not even hard. Sometimes it will be hands only or feet only, often it will be straight stand up, sometimes it will be stand up with takedowns but no grappling. Other times standup with takedowns and grappling. It depends on what we are practising. We can have sparring with one defending, one attacking in turns. It's never scripted, always controlled and afterwards we are told where there's weaknesses and where theirs strengths, we can drill techniques to correct the weakness ie dropping arms when kicking so practice kicks with hands up. the only way to find those weaknesses is to spar, you can see if someone always kicks with the same leg, or if they make a specific move that gives away what they are going to do, a 'tell' if you like. You can correct that but also you learn to look for it. You can see if someone can react to the unknown, if it's scripted you know it's coming.
     
  9. MaxiMe

    MaxiMe Brown Belt

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    I would agree and add timing and distancing to the list. Also the look of different styles (not particularly arts) an aggressive fighter vs an defensive one.
     
  10. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sparring is limited application of learned techniques. I feel it is useful, but one must understand the limitations it imposes and how that affects your application of the same techniques outside the sparring environment.

    I think it is also useful in that it can bring about the 'fear' or heightened awareness that a real fight might bring, to a lesser extent, and that is good; some people have never faced a real self-defense threat before and do not know how they would react. The best training in the world is useless if you're frozen in fear. Sparring can help you confront that and overcome it in a controlled manner.

    Sparring over a period of time also tends to, in my opinion, slow things down from your point of view. You start by being banged unmercifully about the head and shoulders. Eventually you learn to see the movement before it comes, and to react accordingly. You don't have to be the fastest around if you know that when the foot comes up, a kick is coming; and that can't be taught by practicing drills so much. Unscripted (great term that) sparring means it's on you to look for and interpret the intention of your opponent. It has the effect of slowing things down in your mind; it's like you have time to think about what you're going to do before you commit to the movement. Not that I'm a master of it; but I have experienced the effect.

    Plus I like it. I enjoy the rather primitive feeling of peering over my gloves at an opponent with bad intent and knowing he's doing the same to me. Something very primal there. And I enjoy the camaraderie afterwards. Nothing like hanging out with a bunch of guys you have fought with, whom you know pack the gear and they know the same about you. Not to be overly-dramatic, but just summoning the courage to step into the ring makes you a different person in many ways.
     
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  11. jasonbrinn

    jasonbrinn Purple Belt

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    I believe in scripted sparring only. By that I mean that it is freely "free drilling." The person doing the move knows EXACTLY what to do and the person receiving knows EXACTLY what is going to happen each step of the way.

    I do not believe in any "unscripted" sparring.

    When I use the term sparring in my school it is defined as "lively two-person drilling" that is specifically directed.

    I am trying to make this easy to understand. Does what I just stated come across easy to understand?

    Oh and for fun we have a "sumo styled" wrestling game we do.
     
  12. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'm thinking the opposite. LOL
     
  13. Twin Fist

    Twin Fist Grandmaster

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    then, IMO you are not learning martial arts, or much of anything else

    self defense isnt scripted, the bad guys dont let you know what they are gonna do first. You have to develop the ability to think and react on a subconcious level, without thinking.

    the ONLY way to learn combat speed defense is to train at combat speed. The only way to learn how to get hit and not freeze is to GET HIT, the only way to learn how to hit a moving target is to hit one, live, when they are trying to avoid getting hit.

    anything else is a dance, and a waste of time and money

    sparring isnt ALL of martial art practice, but it is IMO the single largest part of the pie.

    martial arts without contact and live sparring is like a virgin watching porn

    nothing but theory
     
  14. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Now that is a damn good metaphor!!

    To be honest I can't understand how scripted sparring is going to help you learn to cope with the unexpected. Scripted sparring is what you see in films and on the television, chereographed fights. Well I guess everyone can have a win that way.

    Scripted sparring, yes that's easy to understand but the reasons why aren't. Perhaps it's a fear that someone does something without the instructors say so. That's taking control freakism to the extreme, you can't control what happens to your fighter in the cage/ring/street etc. It might work if you had endless amount of time to practice every combination known to man.
    Now I'm off to challenge someone to a scripted fight so I can say I won!
     
  15. Native

    Native Yellow Belt

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    Hi Jason. Your point of view really fascinates me.

    I believe the largest benefit of sparring is testing what you have learned. You can drill blocking a punch all day long. You can practice the same technique how you describe above. But unless you are able to apply that block when you DON'T know the punch is coming, then it all seems rather like play to me. There is absolutely no way you can be assured of your skill unless you try it in some situation that resembles real life. An attacker is never going to announce he is going to apply a punch in the face and make sure you are ready for it; which sounds like what you are describing.

    Sparring has a lot of benefits in my opinion, many of which have been stated above and in the previous thread. The "slowing down" of combat Bill described is a great example and one that cannot be developed from drilling. I do not think it takes a degree in psychology to understand what works and what does not.

    Though I have read everything you have post in the last two threads, I'm really just having a disconnect when trying to understand how you can train for fighting (MMA) and not value solid sparring. I'd love to hear more from you on this.

    Thanks
    -Adam Marcum
     
  16. SahBumNimRush

    SahBumNimRush Master of Arts

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    I didn't post on the other thread, since it was off topic.. . And to be honest, I don't have much to add after reading the above posts. Sparring is a vital part of training in any combat sport or martial art, whether we're talking about fencing, boxing, tkd, karate, or whatever.

    Sparring means the same thing no matter what the activity; to engage in a free form exhibition of your art/sport against a partner or opponent. However, what differs from school to school/art to art/sport to sport are the rulesets, i.e. degree of contact, degree of speed, types of movements allowed, etc.. .

    In my school, the "normal" sparring session is all stand up striking with hands and feet. It has many benefits as a training tool, which include but are not limited to the following:

    • testing proficiency of distancing, timing, footwork, speed, control, precision, and technique in "real time" against a live partner.
    • experience of taking a hit (REALLY IMPORTANT ONE), and learning that you can take a hit and keep on going.
    • testing proficiency and efficiency of offensive and defensive techniques and combinations of techniques.
    • competition with others and oneself.
    • it's generally considered the most fun part of class that everyone looks forward to in my dojang.
    I do throw some expanded rulesets from time to time, including multiple opponents, takedowns, grappling, open hand techniques, weapons, and what not, but that's not the mainstay.

    I know different arts/sports have different goals associated with sparring. For instance, I have a friend that practices pukulon silat, where all sparring is done in 1/2 speed, with very light contact. My friend explains that, in this art, every movement is meant to be a fatal one, so it's kinda difficult to spar full speed with any of their techniques. So obviously, there are limitations depending on the activity/style/whatever.
     
  17. jasonbrinn

    jasonbrinn Purple Belt

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    I know this may be hard to accept/understand whatever, and I don't expect everyone (nearly anyone) to agree, however, comments that say "you can't learn fighting without fighting", or "without sparring you aren't doing anything" are just not in line with reality. Again, I understand the long time tradition of fight training and sparring but that doesn't mean we should stick with it just because.

    Sparring shouldn't be about winning Tez3 it should be about learning.

    What is the goal of your sparring?

    Sparring was taught to me as a way to hone technical ability and master the dynamic physical nature of a fight while learning to "think on my feet" and adapt. Well, when you break those elements down and really look at it without ego or preconceived ideas then you might just find there are better ways to train those attributes - at least I did.

    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop timing.
    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop speed.
    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop power.
    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop technique.
    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop confidence.
    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop mental toughness.
    I don't need unscripted sparring to develop aggressiveness.
    and on and on.

    So.....why do I need unscripted sparring again?
     
  18. SahBumNimRush

    SahBumNimRush Master of Arts

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    As I stated above, depending on the school, art, sport, etc.. . the goal of sparring can vary greatly.

    I am missing where/how you gain experience and proficiency in the bolded skill above without free sparring. I am assuming you are not suggesting that you gain experience in this through your predetermined sparring, so I am curious as to how you approach this aspect of martial training sans free sparring.
     
  19. Native

    Native Yellow Belt

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    Ok, I think I completely understand now, Jason. Thanks!
     
  20. jasonbrinn

    jasonbrinn Purple Belt

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    Thank you for the great comment!

    What happens in the street CAN NOT be recreated in the "dojo" without all out attacking your students. So, what is created by "sparring"? IMO a false sense of just about everything. Whether anyone openly states it we all feel safe when sparring in a class. the sparring partner is more than likely not going to try and hurt us so our perception and our mind/body perception of the event is VERY different than when you are truly surprised and confronted with a situation without known variables.

    Some would say, sure but sparring is the best thing we can get close to real fighting. Is it? We have data on what happens in "real" events to the body - the physiological and mental aspects. I believe and have proven in my training that these aspects can be more accurately created by other means. Without creating and "connecting" fear to a situation we can manifest the effects and situation physically of fear within the body of the person training while at the same time maintaining almost perfect technique (here fear is used as one example, there are obviously many others). When one does this repeatedly over a certain amount of time the responsive effect of the student to "real" stimulus is much, A LOT, more favorable.

    Take for instance the widely accepted fact that if you do something 25 times or more in a row it starts to form a habit. Well if you were sparring and working on timing over 50 sessions, let's say you get the timing down and repeatable by the 30 or 35th try but youre still "mastering it" even through all 50. Now you take someone of equal athleticism that has performed a realistic but scripted drill for 50 sessions where they were able to perform the drill accurately for more than 40 times with no memory of "bad attempts" or muscle memory from failed attempts. Put those two individuals in a sparring match and my money is on the drilling opponent to perform the timing sequence FAR better - in fact I have done many tests like this and seen it happen first hand.123
     
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