what does sparring mean to you?

Discussion in 'JKD / Jeet Kune Do' started by khand50, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. khand50

    khand50 Orange Belt

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    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.

     
  2. Tensei85

    Tensei85 Master Black Belt

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    Nice! Agreed, I think sparring is great for developing reactions other than sensitivities in drilling, it helps to understand distance relationship between yourself & the partner, it helps with timing, alternating blocking with counters and overall how to use your tools in a more realistic encounter as opposed to just block & counter then kick... in the air or with a choreographed partner training device. That being said I feel sparring should be approached in as realistic a manner as possible with partners that are not giving & are putting effort into the process.

    I feel sparring should cover all ranges from kicking, striking, throwing & grappling.

    Its important to approach sparring in a realistic but safe environment, so in other words with constraints intact including but not limited to safety gear, concensual rules, proper environmental constraints such as octagon or mats, etc... that provide safety from walls, nails, concrete whatever...

    And the level of contact should be agreed upon as well, for example I wouldn't send a very beginner in an environment that they are not prepared for as far as conditioning wise & mechanical wise. But its important to get the feel of a resisting partner as well.
     
  3. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    In very simple terms, I reckon the most important lessons that emerge from sparring are primarily how to take a hit and carry on and how to execute a techique under less than perfect circumstances.
     
  4. AriesKai

    AriesKai Green Belt

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    Sparring is what makes you proficient in the street or in the ring in the style of martial art that you're practicing.
    Your opponent in the street or ring isn't going to let you sit there while you do "this" or "that" to him; he's going to fight back.
    How you practice/train for that determines on how you will do in the street or ring.
    Sparring is as close as it's gonna get without making it too physical.

    Sparring, for me, is like homework/classwork after the teacher has given instruction.
    It is reviewing technique, reviewing technique, reviewing technique, reviewing technique, reviewing technique, reviewing technique... you get the idea... until the test for your next belt or rank.

    Teacher gives you instruction.
    Teacher gives you excessive amounts homework/classwork.
    Teacher tests you.
    You pass or fail.
    If you failed, then you didn't learn or didn't learn enough.
    You learn by practicing/reviewing/homework/classwork.


    In all, it's practice/sparring that makes perfect.
     
  5. khand50

    khand50 Orange Belt

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    when i think of martial arts, or the reason i train in martial arts, its for self defense. i have never had an interest in tournament fighting of any kind. in fact, i have really never even enjoyed watching the tournament fights. to be honest, i dont enjoy fighting at all, not in the sense that some do. some people i have met over the years thrive on fighting. for me it is the opposite, which is why i personally started martial arts. i was picked on as a child by some of the kids in the small town i lived in and found that martial arts offered some potential protection. not that i wanted to go out and fight anyone, but if someone came at me i would have some sort of idea how to defend myself against the attack.
    with that said, ive always viewed sparring as one element of training. a means to an end, and not an end product. in the early eighties i set about to create a training program for my personal development and for sharing my knowledge of the arts with others. in doing so i examined many styles of martial art for their structure. i was trying to find a common ground for what exists in each art. during my research i found that nearly every art contains at least these basic five elements of training.....solo drills, partner drills, conditioning, sparring, and environmental awareness. each element of training is just as important to me to be a successful martial artist.
    over the years i participated in what i call "tag, your it" sparring. my friends and i used pretty good contact without any protective equipment over the years, so it wasnt all non-contact sparring. but it was a back and forth exchange. and that is an aspect of sparring that is important. but in the past few years i have come to see that alot of martial artists are seeing sparring as the ultimate test of a martial artist.
    in response to arieskai, i would say yes, you have to train as alive as possible. the so called self defense scenarios arent as realistic as they should be either. my idea was simple. combine sparring elements with self defense scenarios.
    put on the protective gear. let the attacker come at you simulating attacks that might occur. work out as many variations as possible. let him come at you with the same power you would experience in typical sparring. the attacker must use resistance as he might in the street. then try to neutralize the opponent, rather than just batting back and forth at each other. this way, you get an idea if your self defense techniques will work under more alive conditions.
    rather than put away sparring altogether, i like the notion of combining the elements of sparring and self defense to work out the realistic approach to training.
     
  6. Smoke

    Smoke Yellow Belt

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    I love sparring! Free form sparring throughout all ranges, or isolating a range or two (standing and clinch, clinch and ground, etc). Obviously, sparring is very important for developing certain attributes. You absolutely have to spar if self-preservation is truly important to you. Of course that's just my opinion, but I firmly believe that to be true.

    However, I HATE hitting my friends! And at this point in the game, that's almost everyone that I spar with.

    As has already been mentioned, it has to be safe and controlled and should have a purpose. I believe every session should be designed to teach and improve a certain skill set. If you're learning, improving and having fun, that's what it's ultimately all about. Train smarter, not necessarily harder.
     
  7. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    If you want to play sport you need to spar. If you want to practise SD you need a realistic attack similar to what you expect to confront on the street. There are many lists of "Ten most common street attacks". I take those and get my guys to build up the attack faster and harder until their response is second nature. We put on protective gear to enable it to get near to full on attack and defense as possible.
    We have our fun sparring, it teaches us to absorb some hits, but, it has nothing to do with SD. There have been plenty on MA BBs flattened by street thugs. Sparring is nothing like street.
     
  8. Smoke

    Smoke Yellow Belt

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    That's a very good point. I definitely believe that there exist differences in approach and that all has to be trained.

    That said, I also believe that (and this is my own opinion) the notion of sport vs. street is not just a black & white subject. It's not unfathomable to consider that a "street" attack is identical to a "sport" attack, if you get my meaning.

    But I do understand your point and agree that you have to prepare for the ambush type of scenario and that the street environment is different from the ring environment. You will get no argument from me.


    And as long as guys get attacked by one of those "top ten", they're fine. Just pray it isn't number 11 and so on, right? I'm only joking with you, but there is a point to be made there.



    I disagree almost entirely with the basic premise here however. To see that sparring is NOTHING like the street is unrealistic at best. It's one thing to have an opinion, it's another to have a bias. Not suggesting that YOU have a bias against sparring (though it may appear that way), but others may. I think it's wise for us ALL to make attempts to see through our biases or, to at the very least, consider why we have them.

    Personally speaking, I see every type of training as necessary - sparring as well, because it's all about development of the human "animal" or mechanism. In short; it's tool development. Just like a mechanic has different tools for different jobs, so too does a fighter require different tools in his bag for developmental reasons.

    A case in point is this: One tool that is HIGHLY developed in sparring is the lead "jab". The jab also happens to be one of, if not the BEST tool, available for use in street self-defense. Developed through sparring, applied in sparring, used in the street for much the same reason (creating distance, keeping someone off you, setting up other tools, etc, etc).

    Sparring is, in my mind, ABSOLUTELY essential and indispensable if we dare think outside of the box.
     
  9. repz

    repz Green Belt

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    Sparring is live resistance. Its builds stress management skills, live at the momment conditioning, mental exercise to take a hit in a live manner when it isnt expected, its unexpected liveness (more so with other sparring depending on whats allowed), and its real world power vs real world bodies, all packaged and rolled into one.

    I have seen my share of martial artists step into a match and not able to guage timing, precision, deal with the unpredicability, and resist and control an uncooperating opponnet, all because they dont train with a live manner. I could believe they can resort to rulesless fighting and fare better if it wasnt for the fact they cant land a proper strike, or properly evade someone in live sparring. I seen great martial artists with amazing technique get thrown a monkey wrench in thier plans when they notice a few leg kick crumbles their legs and they can no longer move so fast.

    As for real fighting, I dont see eye gouges and neck strikes in fights, so why resort to them, or use that to base how unrealistic rules sparring is if its not a common practice? Majority of the time I see fist fights, sometimes ending up on the the floor like fools still trying to pummel each other (even in the old ufc by people who werent trained to fist fight). I dont see how thats so different from a sparring match, where you are still using liveness, resistance, conditioning, and evasion against a live response. If you spar other martial artists, which are better skilled in fighting then the average street thug, then how do you credit a street thug to control the situation so well that it throws the martial artists completely off (against someones whos trained to control an uncooperating live resistance, sparring isnt only about controling yourself, but controling your opponnet and the situation as it happens)?


    Now, you can argue and say, "well, i wont tell the defender what strike I am using" (which becomes sparring with roles of defender and attacker instead). But its no different, you still have roles, you are still expecting an attack, if you eliminated the "roles" it effectivelys becomes even more "live", which means you are stepping into sparring. Plus, it also robs the offensive attacker from training, hes just attacking and waiting to be thrown, he doesnt resist, and it could build bad habits where he might get accustomed to being helpless when a technique is done against him after his initial attack,or where the defender thinks its hook line and sinker with each technique since the attacker doesnt resist, which isnt true in many cases, a sparring class can prove that. It creates the notion that the attacker will go willingly if his attack is stopped and that each technique is fool proof (how would you know otherwise without resistance?).

    I do praise self defense training done in a live manner, but I would eliminate "roles". Yes, you can get your car jacked, the guy doesnt want to fight hes just trying to jump into the car and your trying to defend and not brawl, but once you become aggressive (if you choose to be) it becomes what I like to consider a "fight". I would rather focus on the enviornment, footwork around obstacles and unbalanced areas (like staircases) and still implement a live training atmosphere (and if you had proper head gear and neck gear) implement neck and eye strikes just so you can get used to striking those areas.

    Now, i do side with SD in some ways. One being that certain techniques cant be done in a live manner, like neck locks for example. But I would stil spar and consider getting that into position close to peforming the lock a -tap out- or finish. And strapping full face helmets and performing eye gouges is really just poking plastic and foam and not an actual eye, but it doesnt mean that pulling eye gouges inches from an eye in a pre-arranged manner with no resistance and pre-determined roles will make you -better trained for the streets-.
     
  10. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    I don't have a bias against sparring. Years ago I couldn't get enough of it. We were all involved in tournaments so sparring was always a vital part of training.
    The thing with sparring is this. Two trained fighters are trying each other out, keeping distance and looking for an opportunity to attack. It is like a match. Now it may be that you have an inequality that enables one person to easily overpower the other but in most cases it is reasonably balanced. Original karate was never intended to be a contest between two trained martial artists. It was to protect you against thugs in the street.
    Certainly, in sparring, you can enter behind a jab, but you can train the same jab in a SD scenario as well. Now the chances are you may come up against some one who has some degree of training and they may adopt a fighting stance. The chances then are also higher that they may have been told to avoid a confrontation if possible. We spar and we will continue to spar if for no other reason that it demonstrates how easy it is to tire, to learn to absorb a bit of punishment, to deal with adrenalin dump, etc. So, I would agree that sparring is essential, but it is only a part of the whole.
     
  11. eastnashvillemartialarts

    eastnashvillemartialarts White Belt

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    K-Man,

    Tournament Fighting isn't Sparring in my opinion.
    Not the way we spar anyway.

    Matt Thornton has this issue DEAD RIGHT.
    Take your average high ranking martial artist and just Do "Jab vs Jab" and they generally get their Butts kicked by guys that train that way all the time.

    Add in Clinch/Takedowns and they are really screwed.
    We don't spar HARD, we just Spar in all ranges.

    jmp
     
  12. Lee Mainprize

    Lee Mainprize Orange Belt

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    I agree nashville ma - its because most martial artists don't really have an objective to their training they just do it because they enjoy it and thats the way they have been trained.
     
  13. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    I am forever pleased that i have Goals, beyond just enjoying it.
     
  14. Big Don

    Big Don Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sparring isn't learning how to throw a kick or a punch. Sparring is about learning to take a kick or a punch, so that when you are on the street and you get hit, you can respond without losing your composure.
     
  15. seasoned

    seasoned MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Sparring is important for distancing while interacting with a moving target that is intent on hitting you. If done right it can be a very useful tool for using your techniques in a self defense situation. Some pitfalls would be stopping the match to often, and not letting it go to the ground to see how this is handled.123
     

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