How does your dojang spar?

J. Pickard

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I want to know all the different types of sparring done in various TKD Dojang. I think TKD gets a bad rap as a martial art sometimes because people think ALL TKD is sport TKD and don't realize that is just one side of a many faceted art. So what are some ways you spar in class?
I'll start. In our school we start learning to spar right away. We occasionally do sport (point karate/ITF style rules and WT rules) because it's a lot of fun but usually train concepts for practical non sport fighting. The rules are based on rank and go as follows
White belt: No contact allowed and just learning to utilize the basics of fighting (i.e. controlling the distance, level changing, targeting, head movement, etc). Only punches and kicks above the belt allowed.
Beginner (above white belt through 7th gup): Punches to any target above the belt, kicks above the belt all with light "touch" contact. All kicks and punches to the head are " no contact"
Intermediate (6th- 3rd gup): Groin and knees are off limits, kicks and punches allowed to any other target with "touch" contact, partial contact just beyond "touch" is allowed to the body if both partners are wearing Hogu. Takedowns/foot sweeps are allowed but no grappling or ground and pound.
Advanced/black belt: any strike to any target excluding knees is allowed with partial contact (groin is a valid target with "touch" contact and the head has to stay "touch" level of contact). Takedowns, submission grappling, and ground-and- pound are allowed if both partners are okay with it.

We like to mix up sparring with games that focus on concept as well as just full on free sparring. For example when trying to work on improving striking we will play "tag" where one person is it and the other is on defense. If the person who is "it" gets a good clean kick or punch to a valid target then the other person is it.
For grappling we sometimes play a game where your job is to just control the other person making them unable to strike in anyway. If you can achieve a slow 5 count without them being able to punch, kick, elbow, or knee you then you win (It's a lot of fun but harder than it sounds).
 

skribs

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I'll have to start saying "at my old school". Anyway, at my old school, this was the progression:
  • White & Yellow - Non-contact sparring, just moving forward and backward. Basically it was taking turns of one person doing freestyle technique, while the other person just slides back. It was a decent way to get used to footwork and movement. Most of the reason for it being so structured is that our school was mostly kid classes.
  • Purple & Orange - Purchase the sparring gear, but many of the students do non-contact until their gear arrives. Drills to practice hitting and getting hit on the chestguard. Only punches and kicks to the chestguard. Quite often we ban punches because students will just stand there and wing chun chain-punch the chestguards. We don't keep score, just let them get used to wearing the gear and taking contact.
  • Green & Up - Mostly still the same, except less contact drills and more technical drills (like dodge and counter). 95% of the time if they're wearing gear, it's sparring and not drilling. Every once in a while we'll keep score. Most of the time it's WT scoring, but sometimes we do point-break (get a point, stop and score it, first to 3 wins).
  • Headshots - Headshots are available to black belts, or to adults at red belt. They are optional. If you have a head injury, an important day tomorrow, or just don't want to get hit in the head, you can opt out. A lot of teenagers opt out because of braces.
  • 2-on-1 - 2-on-1 sparring is done during testing for some belts (usually solid blue and solid red). 3-on-1 for black, 4-on-1 for 2nd dan, and so on. We don't really practice this, it's just thrown in for testing.
  • Sparring Club - An additional class you can take once you get sparring gear. Focused on conditioning, kicking drills, and then scored sparring rounds.
My Master's sparring curriculum I personally found very lacking. The majority of it was kick and footwork combinations moving forward or backward. There wasn't a whole lot of lateral movement. There was little discussion of strategy and tactics. His curriculum was never updated as clinching became more popular and pushing was allowed. We would go to tournaments and a lot of our students would be confused at things they thought was against the rules.

I plan to get much more into the theory when I open my own school. Explain the why of things instead of just drilling combinations.
 

Instructor

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My school is Hapkido but we do spar.

Hapkido Club Sparring rules:

1. You have to stay within the defined area (ten by ten). If you go out of bounds the fight stops till you re-enter the area.
2. Light contact strikes but firm enough to move the target on impact. Permissable weapons are the hands and feet. The point target zone is the front of the torso (and head if wearing protective head gear.) The face is off limits.
3. The match goes till one person achieves three points.
4. The fight is stopped every time someone scores a point and then the fighters move to the center of the area and resume the fight.
5. If you fall down or are thrown down it's an instant loss regardless of points.
6. If you get submitted and you tap out it's an instant loss regardless of points.
 

Dirty Dog

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Some pretty elaborate rules...
We do Point/ITF/WT sparring, but only when students have decided to go compete. Which has never been very often.
Other than that...
Gloves, boots mandatory. Headgear encouraged. There have always been a few adults who don't wear it, but kids do. I wear it. Most of the time. Hogu available but rarely used. Corner judges keep score through the round.
Contact is determined by the students, with the lower ranked having the final say. We've never really found it necessary to limit contact. Low ranked students generally don't generate enough power to be a problem. The occasional one that does will simply be paired with someone else who can. Once in a while there will be one who can generate power but doesn't understand how hard they're hitting. They get paired with someone they're not going to hurt until they learn control.
We don't intentionally target the joints, the spine or the face for strikes. We do allow sweeps and throws and locks, but we're not a roll on the ground kind of place.
 

skribs

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How does our dojang spar....

With our hands up at all times.
There was one teenager at our dojang. When I sparred her, my hands would be at hip height. I was protecting the area she had a reputation for kicking.
 

Dirty Dog

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There was one teenager at our dojang. When I sparred her, my hands would be at hip height. I was protecting the area she had a reputation for kicking.
It's useful to note an opponents preferred targets and shift your guard a bit to optimize your defense. And even if you've never seen them before, there are some reasonable generalities. My guard will be a bit lower if I'm a foot taller than you, for one example.
 

skribs

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It's useful to note an opponents preferred targets and shift your guard a bit to optimize your defense. And even if you've never seen them before, there are some reasonable generalities. My guard will be a bit lower if I'm a foot taller than you, for one example.
You calling me short? I'll kick you in the shins for that!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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We like to mix up sparring with games that focus on concept ...
That's the approach I like to take too. I'm talking about general sparring here (not just for TKD).

A student can win a round if he can

- pick up his opponent's leading leg off the ground.
- get his opponent into a head lock.
- wrap his opponent's leading arm.
- wrap his arm around his opponent's waist.
- underhook/overhook his opponent's shoulder.
- use his opponent's leading arm to jam his opponent's back arm.
- ...

The sparring is not to win but to develop a certain skill.

Here is an example that a round stop when a head lock is achieved.

rhino-guard-test-3.gif
 
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Earl Weiss

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We basically follow ITF sparring rules which is kickboxing with targets above the waist only. The level of contact is often called "Semi" which means hard enough to let someone know they have been hit but not so hard as to create lasting damage although noticeable bruising for a day or 2 is not a level that is out of the ordinary. Any level that causes the need for medical attention is excessive - but accidents happen infrequently.
 

isshinryuronin

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The dojo sparring rules I grew up with:

target areas - head, full torso front and back, groin.
techniques - punches, kicks, grabs, low leg sweeps, takedowns with immediate follow-up strike. no joint locks/strikes.
power - solid medium to body, kiss to head, kiss to light below the belt.
protective equipment - cup only. nothing else allowed.

we were taught and developed control so no serious injuries and little blood. any violation would incur Sensei's wrath................accordingly, there were no violations. :angelic:
 
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J. Pickard

J. Pickard

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The dojo sparring rules I grew up with:

target areas - head, full torso front and back, groin.
techniques - punches, kicks, grabs, low leg sweeps, takedowns with immediate follow-up strike. no joint locks/strikes.
power - solid medium to body, kiss to head, kiss to light below the belt.
protective equipment - cup only. nothing else allowed.

we were taught and developed control so no serious injuries and little blood. any violation would incur Sensei's wrath................accordingly, there were no violations. :angelic:
When I started groin cup was the only mandated piece of equipment for adults, the rest was optional (in our school anyway, tournaments were another story). Then someone cut their knuckle on another person's teeth which resulted in a really nasty infection so mouth guards were mandated. Headgear was mandated after someone slipped in sweat while sparring and knocked themselves out on the wood floor. The floors were padded the next week. Overall, I'm glad all the protective gear exists and is better quality than it used to be. The only thing I'm still not a huge fan of is hogu but I appreciate its importance.
 

isshinryuronin

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Headgear was mandated after someone slipped in sweat while sparring and knocked themselves out on the wood floor. The floors were padded the next week.
......The week after that, someone's toe got caught between the pad's seams so shoes were mandated. And so it goes. :p
 
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