What age do you stop sparring?

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by andyjeffries, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Master Cole posted this in another thread:

    And I thought it made an interesting topic, so rather than take that thread off-topic I've started a new one.

    I'm 37 and spar fairly irregularly (due to having a bad knee, knee op, recovery) and now it's likely to be less so because I've left the club I learnt at am "going it alone". I've found a nearby 4th Dan that I'm going to meet up with about once per month so I'm sure we'll do a bit then.

    So, while sparring is a lot less prominent in my Taekwondo life than it was in my early 20s (I hated poomsae back then, but now I love them!), I don't think I'll ever want to stop completely.

    What about everyone else? Do people generally stop sparring at a particular age/rank? Is this just something personal to Master Cole?
     
  2. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    I dont think anyone should ever stop Sparring.
    I do, however, think that one should be able to Spar in a much softer, more coordinated way should they need to. And should necessity Require, Shadow Spar.
     
  3. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    A couple of years ago we brought a fighter across from America to fight on one of our MMA shows, he was nearly 60 then, I believe he has only just given up fighting. He's amazingly fit and only his grey hair gave away that he was older than he looked. Skip is a lovely man too.

    http://realfighting.com/skip_hall.php
     
  4. jedtx88

    jedtx88 Yellow Belt

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    I'm sure it varies wildly, I know of two elderly instructors who still spar in my area.
     
  5. seasoned

    seasoned MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    It depends on your motivation toward sparring.
    When younger, for me, it was very aggressive and competitive. It had nothing to do with training and everything to do with besting your opponent.

    Fast forward to middle age where your mind set should change along with your approach. At this point you will still get something out of it, but any injuries will take longer to heal.


    At 68 years old, don't kid yourself. Never stop training, but that training should be geared toward efficient technique with little wasted movement. At this point you will have much to teach and nothing to prove. :)
     
  6. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    They can take my sparring gear when they pry it from my cold dead hands. ha.ha.ha..

    At age 41, I just made our national sparring team. I would love to say that I spar frequently but work, teaching and family limits my time. I do my best to get in some sessions at least once a week. I do not see myself going to the Olympics or winning the Warrior Cup at AKA Grands. However, it is fun and I enjoy doing even at this age.
     
  7. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I started sparring at age 49 (last year, in other words). I don't know when or if I will stop, but at the moment, I enjoy it. I just so happen to like beating the crap out of kids.
     
  8. sfs982000

    sfs982000 Master Black Belt

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    I feel sparring is critical in training and no one should stop sparring, with that being said should you adjust how you spar as you get older, absolutely. For me at this point in my life, sparring is less me going full blast against an opponent as it is trying to work on my technique and timing.
     
  9. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I think it varies. Health, fitness, the particular type of sparring you or your school does. I think it's also dependent on who you have to spar with and how well you know them.

    As long as it's fun to the person in question, keep it up. I'm trying to think of the oldest person I've ever sparred with. Mid sixties maybe. But only because there's not that many older guys in our clubs.
     
  10. Manny

    Manny Senior Master

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    I must admit it, I don't sparr..... very ofthen. If I recall last year I sparr three or four times no more, so you guess it, I sparr very little on ly whren I go to teens class or when I am preparing for examination (test) or during testing. Right now I have two students a marroon belt and a blue belt, some times I do light sparring with them just to show some techs and that's all.

    I did very little point sparring in kenpo karate classes too.

    Right now I am teaching, and I focus in self defense and poomsae and yes sometimes I teach sparring.

    Manny
     
  11. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    I stopped competing when I was 45 because I felt it was too difficult to both coach and compete at a high level. I still spar on occasion, but just for teaching purposes. Under other circumstances, I don't see any reason to stop. I still love watching the old geezers like me coming into the ring and for the most part, they're the most respectful of each other because they they know what it takes to train at that age.
     
  12. mastercole

    mastercole Master Black Belt

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    Sparring for me was always about improving my self defense/fighting skills and I participated in full contact sparring and training most of my life. Doing that, I found what I was looking for, after time it quenched my thirst and fulfilled my desire to learn and improve. This journey was never about tournaments, I had little personal interest in tournaments.

    Light sparring, or modifying your sparring for an injury, being out of shape or old age, is not sparring. To me, if you are not sparring with full force, full contact, for the duration, you are not sparring.
    When a person gets to the point where they can no longer participate in full contact sparring, sparring for them, personally is over. They can still continue to learn the principle of sparring, and the training methods for sparring.

    In my schools students participate in sparring drills, which include promise sparring (no contact to very light contact). For students promise sparring is just a warm up preparation for actually sparring (full contact), for those few who actually participate in sparring. All of that is “training for sparring”, but not sparring itself.

    I tell every student that if they are not participating in full contact sparring, in addition to sparring training, they are not developing their personal self defense fighting skills.
    I tell older students or injured students that “Taekwondo is for health”, and never to participate in sparring, or even sparring drills if they are not up to it, however, they should learn the principles of sparring and the training methods.

    Sure, these days I practice a little on the talyunbong (makiwara) & Powair water bag, practice Poomsae and Taekkyon, some rolls and falls, occasional breaking, kubudo weapons and occasional sparring drills, etc, but, never actual sparring.

    As far as being an instructor, I do that on occasion too. I also have instructors who teach at my schools, instructors who have excellent skills, way beyond what my skills ever were. My job now is to use my knowledge and resources in order to provide my students with the best possible training methods. I have no delusions that all those methods will come directly through me.

    I also have no delusions that me sparring with my students would make them better. I am amazed when I hear instructors who were 1) never elite fighters themselves, or 2) never produced elite fighters say that. I teach students drills and skills to practice with each other. When and if they show potential, then they can spar with elite fighters where they will actually learn correctly, from the beginning.

    I don't want a student to pick up on my bad habits. I would be horrified if I noticed, or some else could notice that one of my students had “Al Cole’s style.” Thankfully none of my students do, they have the international style of Taekwondo and completely blend in with the greater Taekwondo community.
     
  13. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm 50, and I spar at least once a week (not counting the tussles at work...). I don't see any reason to stop. We sparred last night, as a matter of fact. I was paired with a 17 yo 1st Dan, a 40-something Chodanbo, and a 15 yo 3rd geup. The oldest active student in our school is a 68 yo 6th geup and she spars. No, she's not matched up against 17 yo Dans, but she spars.
     
  14. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Me too...

    Now, this is a very interesting perspective. We spar light-moderate contact most of the time (unless someone is preparing for a competition at which point we have stepped it up to full contact during their prep period). Personally, I would consider any form of sparring (light to moderate/decent contact) to be sparring, not just full contact.

    For us though, sparring is a part of the curriculum, but we emphasise poomsae more (we don't have any currently active competitors).

    Thanks for posting your thoughts, it completely clarifies your earlier comment in my mind and I now understand and can see where you're coming from.

    At the club I trained at, for example, children would never spar with each other (even light contact), just with adult black belts. In the club I run, they will be sparring with each other, with hogu and head guards (still light to moderate contact unless someone wants to compete) - but when they reach yellow belt (it's a new club) so they know the basics of all the kicks, footwork, feints and covering.
     
  15. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Ah but old and sneaky beats young and fit everytime!
     
  16. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    I still enjoy light or even medium sparring. do not see a need to do match level sparring at this point in my life. Light or medium sparring gives me a check on where I am as far as my body goes, if my reactions are slowing, and that sort of thing. I also still enjoy taking a good shot. I still very much enjoy doing hogu drills, especially being the receiver. Doing hogu drills provides a level of conditioning and training that is not available through other methods. What I am leaning away from is paddle drills. Personally, I do way less paddle kicks, especially roundhouse kicks, than when I was younger. I feel like doing excessive paddle drills leads to knee injuries, especially when you are older. I still use the paddle for ax and spin hook.
     
  17. ralphmcpherson

    ralphmcpherson Senior Master

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    Without a major injury I dont think anyone should stop sparring. Sparring is just too big a part of tkd. It would be like saying "I want to play rugby, but I dont want to tackle" or "I want to play tennis, but I wont do a back hand". Obviously as we age we have to adjust our sparring methods and in particular who we spar, I have just trained with far too many guys in their older years who still spar regularly to ever think there is an age limit where you have to stop. In fact, I train with a couple of guys in their sixties who still love to spar hard.
     
  18. Cali Gal

    Cali Gal White Belt

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    Old and sneaky it is. Experience is definitely and advantage but the fittest guys usually wins.
     
  19. mastercole

    mastercole Master Black Belt

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    I think it is huge mistake to convert to so-called "light sparring only."

    The problem with converting your sparring to - light contact only - is that you get lax, adjust to non-lethal non-committed techniques coming at you, and giving back non-lethal non-committed strikes. You get relaxed and no longer hone the killer instinct. It's like War Games with slow fighter jets, slow ships and out in the open tanks. A real war breaks out and gets everyone killed, they were caught off guard by the speed and brutality of the real deal. That is why I say if you are not sparring full contact all out, you are not sparring.

    To help somewhat eliminate that problem, I feel Taekwondoin, if they can, should drill at full contact, which is full speed and full power. This will keep your time and distance true. As Glenn said, it will also keep you rolling with the punches, which is maybe the most important element to physical/mental self defense.

    If you can no longer roll with the punches so to speak, you are toast if you get attacked by a tough fighter, unless of course you shoot him first.
     
  20. ralphmcpherson

    ralphmcpherson Senior Master

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    I agree regarding 'light sparring only'. I have friends who train at clubs who always do light sparring, with occasional medium contact sparring and the result isnt good. We do light sparring occasionally and its a great way to try a few new ideas out and test distancing and timing etc, but it also gives you a totally different mind set because you know you cant get hurt so you can try all sorts of things you'd never try in full contact. Full contact sparring requires a bit more reality in your mindset, I use light sparring to help with new ideas, but I certainly use a much more refined technique when our instructor lines all the black belts up and says "go as hard as you can" (which is usually once a week).123
     

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