sparring is a great tool for developing a sense of relationship between you and your opponent. we use sparring to develop attributes such as timing and the ability to judge distance. sparring has alot of great benefits. but is sparring the ultimate test of your ability to defend yourself? when you spar, are you using contact? do you spar like its a game of tag? or do you use sparring as a tool for self defense training, with the destruction of the opponent as your ultimate goal? fighting and self defense, for me, are two separate halves of a whole subject when it comes to martial arts. for me, fighting is the interplay between two individuals engaged in combat. it implies a certain give and take. but self defense, that is the response to an attack by another individual. if someone attacks me i want to take that person out, nullify the situation, as quickly as possible. i do not want to fight that person. over the years i have seen sparring as a tool for developing certain skills that seemed in contradiction to the simple self defense applications i also learned. for example, in self defense application training, one might have an aggressor attempt to choke, or push, or swing on them. the defender would then practice the specific skills needed to end the attack. there is not interplay between the two. in sparring, there is a back and forth interplay, and the combatants exchange roles as attacker/defender constantly. sparring to me seems to be prolonged. im not saying that sparring is wrong. it is a great way to develop many attributes which can be useful in self defense situations, especially if the situation isnt nullified immediately. a self defense situation can quickly turn into a fight. so it is good to practice in both ways. an interesting method might be to use the initial sparring session as a way to develop realistic self defense skills, wearing the proper protective gear, and having one person attack while the other defends, attempting to neutralize the attacker. im sure that there are instructors out there using methods such as these in their classes. i just wanted to hear from those of you interested in this idea and get your perspective on the subject. thank you in advance.