full contact sparring?

ralphmcpherson

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Firstly, please dont let this become a sport vs old school debate. Im having a few friday night beers with a mate and the subject of full contact sparring came up. Do you guys spar full contact in day to day classes or is it something done rarely or even not at all? The club my friend trains at (differnt to where I train) said he has no contact at all in sparring but the club holds a separate class each week to cater for full contact sparring (for black belts only). Is this normal? what do you guys do, would you spar full contact every lesson, once a week, once a month etc etc? Also, do you increase the level of contact as the student progresses or just limit full contact to black belts etc?
 

Bill Mattocks

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Firstly, please dont let this become a sport vs old school debate. Im having a few friday night beers with a mate and the subject of full contact sparring came up. Do you guys spar full contact in day to day classes or is it something done rarely or even not at all? The club my friend trains at (differnt to where I train) said he has no contact at all in sparring but the club holds a separate class each week to cater for full contact sparring (for black belts only). Is this normal? what do you guys do, would you spar full contact every lesson, once a week, once a month etc etc? Also, do you increase the level of contact as the student progresses or just limit full contact to black belts etc?

Not sure what you mean by 'full contact'. Do you mean full power? Or do you mean actual hitting each other?

We spar in the dojo. We use light to medium contact when wearing pads. Sometimes we spar without pads, and then we use very light contact. Our goal is to work our techniques and test our ability to put what we're learning to use, not to destroy each other. In tournament, we spar in gear and point-sparring is supposed to be light-touch but can sometimes get out of control. Continuous sparring is a bit more heavy, but still not like the karate brawls they called tournaments of days gone by. I've seen black belt sparring tournaments get quite fierce, some heavy hitting, but again with gear on. Hopefully still something short of 'full power', though.

There are always rules, however. Generally, in dojo, no hitting in the face, no blind techniques, no sweeping the base leg. No kicking in the groin, or to the back. Throws must also assist the person down to land safely.

We're not all young men and women. We have jobs and families. We can't be coming to work missing teeth and with broken noses all the time.
 

StudentCarl

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Those of us who compete spar full power, full contact in practice. How often we do that depends on where we are in the training cycle and the timing of tournaments. Even with modern protective gear, some injuries happen. I'd say it averages out to weekly, though some weeks we might go hard 2-3 times, and some months we might only go hard once. Many drills involve contact with a partner, but that is often focused on technique or speed. Every practice we'll spend at least some time working on movement and sparring with light contact (no gear). Yellow belts and up can train with the team.

For those who aren't interested in competition, it's less common but occasionally part of regular class.
 

Manny

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Friday class is sparrin class, at the end of the class sambonim ask the studentes to wear the safety gear and put the chiuldren, teens and moms to do kyorugy, it's full contact in the meaning that kicks are sent with speed,power and acuracy however remeber it's WTF style and thya use that set of rules. Friday night is my night off so I don't go to the dojang however the times I've been there on friday I sparr with the young studs, and believe me thera are 3 teens well built with nice kicks and it's not easy do kyorugi with them cause they are very fast and strong so I have to fight with brains with them and there is a 24 years old kid that trains with some people of the national team once in a while and this guy is really really fast and kicks pretty nasty.

In the other hand in the clkass I teach we do light contact to medium contact the two men below my wing are office workers and some times they got scare to see a full kick gfoing to the head so we are doing right now light to medium contact only using the shin/instep pads BUT once they get use to the kicks we will increase the rithm and the power TRYING to not get use to the hogu and helmet, in other words our kyorugy will follow the WTF rules but we are going to not use the hogu and helmet.

I must tell you that even in full contact kyorugy we try to take care of our partner, I mean there is no reason to rip of the head of our clasmate or to hurt so bad to a fellow.

These days I am not doing so much sparring but this is something is changin because I don't wana rust to acumulate in the old Manny and yes maybe I am not so fast but at least I don't go backwards so that's why I am doing some sparring with my students a marroon belt and a blue belt.

Manny
 

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We spar without pads. Children and geup ranks do this with no contact. Dan ranks are expected to practice control and spar with touch-level contact.
We spar with pads. Children and geup ranks do this with light to moderate contact. Adults and Dan ranks spar with whatever level of contact both are comfortable with. We have one Chodanbo who does not like heavy contact. With her, it's light to moderate contact. The rest of us, while not trying to knock out or hurt eac other, use heavy contact. I wouldn't say FULL contact, because we're all certainly capable of delivering more power than this. But you have no doubt when a shot lands...

We do not use hogu, generally, though there is one older female student who chooses to wear one. A couple students wear headgear. We do not strike the face with power.
 
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ralphmcpherson

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We spar without pads. Children and geup ranks do this with no contact. Dan ranks are expected to practice control and spar with touch-level contact.
We spar with pads. Children and geup ranks do this with light to moderate contact. Adults and Dan ranks spar with whatever level of contact both are comfortable with. We have one Chodanbo who does not like heavy contact. With her, it's light to moderate contact. The rest of us, while not trying to knock out or hurt eac other, use heavy contact. I wouldn't say FULL contact, because we're all certainly capable of delivering more power than this. But you have no doubt when a shot lands...

We do not use hogu, generally, though there is one older female student who chooses to wear one. A couple students wear headgear. We do not strike the face with power.
Sounds sort of similar to what we do. We have the options of pads if we want them and that varies from student to student . Some just wear shin and instep guards, some just a hogu, but most choose not to wear anything, except for gadings where all protective gear must be worn. We dont spar till 6th gup, and coloured belts spar medium contact, but on occasion will be instructed to go full hard contact. Black belts decide between themselves what level they wish to do, most like to go pretty hard from my experience and we have one or two in our current class who go really hard. We would spar every second lesson if you averaged it out, but we can sometimes go two weeks with no sparring at all but then might spar every night for a month. Leading into grading we cut back on sparring to avoid injuries. Sparring at gradings is very hard contact, as the goal is to knock the other guy down as quick as possible. From my experience, people who spar full contact all the time seem to have a better respect for getting hit, thus they get hit less. When I did karate it was light contact so you always knew in the back of your head you couldnt really get hurt, so you tend to attempt things you just wouldnt do in full contact. Thats one of the things I really like about tkd, full contact sparring seems to be the go at most places regardless of organisation.
 

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Hi I am new on MT but wanted to answer your post. In my adult class we spar full contact every week. Brown belt and above do not have to wear head gear. I wear head gear and shin pads ( due to a bone contusion I got due to bone to bone contact with a kick ouch!) I do not wear a chest/rib protector. I only spar men. I tell then to not go easy on me because I need to learn to take a hit/block etc. Part of my training routine is to have someone throw the weight ball on my stomach and on each sides for a series of reps similar to what boxers do. Currently I am a blue belt which means no face contact. Tomorrow I test for brown stripe which means WHEN I earn my brown stripe tomorrow night I will then be able to make face contact and receive face contact.
 

WC_lun

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We don't free spar at full power often, but do it sometimes. Normally we work on a set of three or four techniques that are reinforcing the concepts Sifu wants us to work on. As the class goes on, we gradually increase the contact level to test what we are doing. We do feel that we must test what we know to iron out the links. You can't do that unless you bring up the contact level.
 

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At our school, we spar full contact for a couple of weeks three or four times a year. We wear the hogus and pads and we do full contact, Olympic style sparring. When we're working with the lower rank belts we tend to take it easy and adjust the sparring to their level and maybe not hit so hard, but when the black belts spar each other we tend to beat the snot out of each other. Its great fun! In our school the general rule is hit only as hard as you want to be hit.
Jim
 

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Those of us who compete spar full power, full contact in practice. How often we do that depends on where we are in the training cycle and the timing of tournaments. Even with modern protective gear, some injuries happen. I'd say it averages out to weekly, though some weeks we might go hard 2-3 times, and some months we might only go hard once. Many drills involve contact with a partner, but that is often focused on technique or speed. Every practice we'll spend at least some time working on movement and sparring with light contact (no gear). Yellow belts and up can train with the team.

For those who aren't interested in competition, it's less common but occasionally part of regular class.

I have to say I still do not understand what it meant by 'full power' sparring. If I spar someone 'full power' and I connect with a kick, they're going to be on the ground crying. If I connect with a 'full power' strike, I'll be crushing noses, and breaking jaws or orbital sockets. What do you mean by 'full power'? To me, full is full. Meaning it's a real fight, all I have, nothing held back. I would not spar in such a fashion; I have no desire to hurt anyone that badly, nor can I afford to be hurt like that myself. I understand injuires in the dojo; I've hurt my knees, gotten a bruised rib, broken a toe, that kind of thing. But if sparring in the dojo mean eating nothing but soup through a straw for the next several months, then no. I am an adult, I have a job and responsibilities. I have to go to work in the morning, and that's frankly a LOT more important than how hard I can hit.
 

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I have to say I still do not understand what it meant by 'full power' sparring. If I spar someone 'full power' and I connect with a kick, they're going to be on the ground crying. If I connect with a 'full power' strike, I'll be crushing noses, and breaking jaws or orbital sockets. What do you mean by 'full power'? To me, full is full. Meaning it's a real fight, all I have, nothing held back. I would not spar in such a fashion; I have no desire to hurt anyone that badly, nor can I afford to be hurt like that myself. I understand injuires in the dojo; I've hurt my knees, gotten a bruised rib, broken a toe, that kind of thing. But if sparring in the dojo mean eating nothing but soup through a straw for the next several months, then no. I am an adult, I have a job and responsibilities. I have to go to work in the morning, and that's frankly a LOT more important than how hard I can hit.

Full is full on, Bill. You understood me right. We moderate it when there are mismatches, and with teammates it's not always full power to the head. However that's what it is in tournaments, so why train different than you fight. As far as putting people on the ground crying, there are two things that diminish that: 1) we train to handle full power shots, and 2) there's a reason footwork is king in the ring--taking full power shots is the exception rather than the rule because nobody is going to sit still for you. It may sound harsh, but you build up to it through training.
 

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We spar with no gear (outside of head gear and groin protectors), and we spar with light to heavy contact depending on the rank and age of the individual sparring, but never 100% power. I have extremely limited experience with Olympic style sparring, as I haven't done it since I was a teenager. But even then we didn't go full contact. In fact both my student and myself were warned for excessive contact in the 1997 Louisville Junior Olympics (and it wasn't something that we were doing any harder than we trained in class). Things obviously have changed a lot since then, but I'd be scared to get hit with someone who REALLY knows how to execute a devastating kick to the face at 100% power, headgear or no headgear. People get knocked out easily enough with 70% full power. We all have jobs to get up for the next day, so we don't go "full contact i.e. 100% power" that's what breaking is for in our dojang.

I think that "hard sparring" is a great, but I personally have reservations about hitting as hard as you can in sparring. I foresee a great deal of liability with that, particularly with discrepancies between skill and strength in students at a smaller dojang.
 

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Full is full on, Bill. You understood me right. We moderate it when there are mismatches, and with teammates it's not always full power to the head. However that's what it is in tournaments, so why train different than you fight. As far as putting people on the ground crying, there are two things that diminish that: 1) we train to handle full power shots, and 2) there's a reason footwork is king in the ring--taking full power shots is the exception rather than the rule because nobody is going to sit still for you. It may sound harsh, but you build up to it through training.

Yeah, no. Jaws break the same way if you're trained or not. There's no makiwara board for noses. And I realize nobody sits still and waits to be hit. That doesn't mean they won't be hit, even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then. Full power means jaws and noses get broken, testicles get driven up into the tonsils. If you guys do that, my hat is off to you; but no way would I do that. Hey, to each their own. I still have a little trouble believing you're putting people in the hospital on a daily basis, and I fully believe that's what 'full power' results in (especially mine). I may not be good and I may not be fast, but I hit a ton. I only need one lucky punch and it's liquid nose. That really OK for a daily thing in the dojo? :)
 

SahBumNimRush

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In our school the general rule is hit only as hard as you want to be hit.
Jim

That is precisely how we practice as well, problem is, no one WANTS to be put in the hospital, so no one spars 100% power. There are people who do, from time to time, and then they get put up against a well trained black belt that can dish out the same power, which abruptly puts a stop to it. Again, I'm all for hard and heavy sparring, we just don't spar 100% power in our dojang.
 
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ralphmcpherson

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I think injurieS are kept to a minimum as long as its an even match. Two good black belts can go at it for a few minutes and rarely, if ever, is someone seriously hurt. People who spar full contact all the time generally have great evasive and defensive skills. It's all good and well to say that if you kick someone hard they will go down crying, but just try landing that kick on a good black belt who sparse full contact all the time, it isn't easy. Olympic sparring is full contact and most bouts end with both competitors still standing.
 
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ralphmcpherson

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Olympic sparring is full contact Bill, and competitors arent going to hospital "on a daily basis". And those guys hit real hard.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I think injurieS are kept to a minimum as long as its an even match. Two good black belts can go at it for a few minutes and rarely, if ever, is someone seriously hurt. People who spar full contact all the time generally have great evasive and defensive skills. It's all good and well to say that if you kick someone hard they will go down crying, but just try landing that kick on a good black belt who sparse full contact all the time, it isn't easy. Olympic sparring is full contact and most bouts end with both competitors still standing.

I could be mistaken, but I do not think Olympic sparring (TKD, right?) is 'full contact' as in full power.

And no, I do not agree that injuries are kept to a minimum if two evenly-matched competitors go at it full bore. One mistake and it's broken noses, jaws, orbital sockets, major testicular trauma, etc, etc. Come on, that's fantasy-land stuff. MMA fighters go all out; and they get damaged. A lot.
 

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Safety equipment is a must. It won't stop injury, but it will lessen how often it happens. You also have to have someone outside the match keeping absolute control over it. Full contact does not mean wild, crazy, non thinking. You are still working on something...or should be. However, injuries still happen occasionally. This is part of the risk we take to really learn our martial art. We do what we can to minimize risk, but in the end, this is not a game...at least not the way our school trains. Every school is different and the goals to be pursued there are different. Meaning the training will be different. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you are aware.
 
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ralphmcpherson

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I could be mistaken, but I do not think Olympic sparring (TKD, right?) is 'full contact' as in full power.

And no, I do not agree that injuries are kept to a minimum if two evenly-matched competitors go at it full bore. One mistake and it's broken noses, jaws, orbital sockets, major testicular trauma, etc, etc. Come on, that's fantasy-land stuff. MMA fighters go all out; and they get damaged. A lot.

Yes, Olympic sparring is full power, and a knockout wins. And, those guys kick like a mule.
 

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Thanks, Ralph. Olympic sparring is full contact. I am 6'1" and 220 pounds and very strong and the guy I partner up with in class is about the same size and trust me, he kicks like a mule. Can I deliver a roundhouse kick hard enough to break your head? Probably, but why would I if I'm sparring. I am not defending myself in a life or death situation, I am fighting in a match and the goal is to win not kill. In a tkd tournament a knock out is an instant win so we train to that end. We do however, take it easy on the head kicks in class. A light tap to the head gets the message across just fine. Most of the injuries I've gotten in class are self inflicted. A broken foot from kicking some one in the elbow, broken toes from bad round house kicks, and broken fingers from not keeping my hands tight when blocking. We teach the kids to kick hard (they do light contact to the head) and punch hard. With some judges thats the only way to score a point. There are rules in a tournament against certain maiming strikes; testicles, knees, ankles, mouths and noses are all off limits. When training for a tournament we leave those out of the curriculum and save those techniques for the self defense classes.
 
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