Inexperienced in hard sparring

Ivan

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Hey guys, I’ve just been taking a summer break from studying and returned home to my parents’ new house (they moved while I was abroad). I immediately found some kickboxing classes and a gym and trained as hard as I could. I took part in the sparring, and I found myself to have improved great lengths since lockdown began - I hadn’t sparred in a year and a half, but I spent all my time in lockdown focusing on drills, shadowboxing and polishing my techniques. I found myself to be cleaner and more polished and not nearly as scared as I used to. This was sparring at around 40-60%intensity depending on my partner.

I spoke to my coach there and told him that I was aiming to compete and he told me that I needed to get used to taking and receiving harder shots through hard sparring. Eventually I came down to a sparring session and I upped the ante to about 80%. The first round I wore headgear, but I found myself constantly getting hit and frustrated as I had to adjust my headgear way too much and it was obstructing my view. I took it off and switched partners.

Now keep in mind in this session, Inwas not using any kicks as I am attempting to heal them from Illiotal band syndrome, as per the instructions of my physio, so I was just boxing and I let my partners use their kicks: I know that I overestimated myself. I started sparring (again at around 80%) and at one point I slipped the wrong way and caught a shin sandwich to the face -roundhouse kick. It was a classic knockout. I slumped to the floor and I did my best not to cry in front of everyone, but it wasn’t from the pain, rather it was frustration.

These two rounds of sparring made me feel like when I first started boxing and was thrown into the deep end of the sport by sparring. My flinch reflex came back, and I was not able to slip or block as many hits as I usually do. I am clearly not ready for competition, and I want advice on how to keep my technique in check and keeping my cool during harder sparring sessions, and eventually competitions.
Do I just keep doing hard sparring sessions like this until I’m desensitised to it? Thanks.
 

geezer

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Do I just keep doing hard sparring sessions like this until I’m desensitised to it? Thanks.
Disclaimer: I don't do hard sparring. I just turned 66 and we have some history of strokes in my family ...so taking hard shots to the head just doesn't seem smart or beneficial to my training these days.

That said, your coach may be right, and to achieve your personal goals, it may be necessary to "up the ante". On the other hand if you are taking really hard shots, beginning to flinch again and lose your skill, maybe you need to scale it back a bit.

So maybe try going harder than previously, but communicate with your partner. Let him give you some pressure, then tone it down a bit so have time to adapt. On a scale of 1 to 10, it doesn't make sense to go from 2 to 9 all at once. Build up gradually and if you can't get "comfortable" with harder contact, at least get used to it. Remember, training, even hard training, is not fighting ...at least not all the time! ...Anyway, that would be my take on it.

Now I'd love to hear what some actual, experienced coaches have to say! :)
 

Yokozuna514

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Hey guys, I’ve just been taking a summer break from studying and returned home to my parents’ new house (they moved while I was abroad). I immediately found some kickboxing classes and a gym and trained as hard as I could. I took part in the sparring, and I found myself to have improved great lengths since lockdown began - I hadn’t sparred in a year and a half, but I spent all my time in lockdown focusing on drills, shadowboxing and polishing my techniques. I found myself to be cleaner and more polished and not nearly as scared as I used to. This was sparring at around 40-60%intensity depending on my partner.

I spoke to my coach there and told him that I was aiming to compete and he told me that I needed to get used to taking and receiving harder shots through hard sparring. Eventually I came down to a sparring session and I upped the ante to about 80%. The first round I wore headgear, but I found myself constantly getting hit and frustrated as I had to adjust my headgear way too much and it was obstructing my view. I took it off and switched partners.

Now keep in mind in this session, Inwas not using any kicks as I am attempting to heal them from Illiotal band syndrome, as per the instructions of my physio, so I was just boxing and I let my partners use their kicks: I know that I overestimated myself. I started sparring (again at around 80%) and at one point I slipped the wrong way and caught a shin sandwich to the face -roundhouse kick. It was a classic knockout. I slumped to the floor and I did my best not to cry in front of everyone, but it wasn’t from the pain, rather it was frustration.

These two rounds of sparring made me feel like when I first started boxing and was thrown into the deep end of the sport by sparring. My flinch reflex came back, and I was not able to slip or block as many hits as I usually do. I am clearly not ready for competition, and I want advice on how to keep my technique in check and keeping my cool during harder sparring sessions, and eventually competitions.
Do I just keep doing hard sparring sessions like this until I’m desensitised to it? Thanks.
Ivan, I have been following your journey and appreciate the courage you have to report honestly about your experiences.

Based on what you wrote, I would say 'ego' is the biggest hill you have to conquer. Let me explain:

1) Telling the coach you want to compete is good. Hearing the response (learn to take harder shots at 80%) is about right. Matching with someone at 80% while you use hands only and they use hands and feet, not the wisest choice. In the beginning, match with people that you trust that will push you but not try and 'take you out'. There is a learning curve to fighting at a higher level and it is more than physical conditioning. If you are new to the gym, watch your potential opponents first. Get to know them and see if they would be interested in mentoring you. When you understand the 'lay of the land' THEN ramp up your intensity fo 80%.

2) You are doing many good things on your own but hard sparring is different. It can be frustrating to spar with someone who is much better than you and doesn't allow you to explore your own game. Plus there is always a risk you can get injured and not be able to train for a period of time. This you know but you needn't put yourself in this situation if you can find a way to grow and experience hard sparring without being knocked out.

3) Study not only your opponents but what YOU do. I would guess you went in both your matches trying to use what you have been working on. Did you notice what your opponents were doing ? Studying YOU, hence you ate the shin sandwich.

Chin up and this happens to the best of us when we are training without guidance. Having a Sensei or a trainer means you have someone you can speak with BEFORE you get yourself into situations that can result in setbacks. They've seen you and know what you can do. More than likely they will scout your opponents and guide you on WHAT to focus on when sparring. You may still eat a shin sandwich from time to time but you will know why immediately and how to correct your holes.

If you don't have access to someone who can guide you yet, try and find one at the gym. Probably best to not spar at 80% until you can find someone to give you proper feedback and guidance. Remember, if fighting was easy, we would all be Mike Tyson or George St. Pierre. Continuing to spar at that level without guidance can set your confidence back considerably and may even result in a lack of desire to continue.

Good luck and keep plugging away. Just plug away smartly. Osu !
 

MadMartigan

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The first round I wore headgear, but I found myself constantly getting hit and frustrated as I had to adjust my headgear way too much and it was obstructing my view. I took it off and switched partners.
I slumped to the floor and I did my best not to cry in front of everyone, but it wasn’t from the pain, rather it was frustration.
Having not met you, I can only make guesses based on what you wrote. If these events happened involving a student in my class; I would probably give this advice.
I would talk to the student about ego and perfectionism.
1: Don't let ego keep you from using safety gear. A human can only be hit in the head hard so many times. Save those unprotected hits for when it matters. Use the safety gear (especially while acclimating to harder contact).
My flinch reflex came back, and I was not able to slip or block as many hits as I usually do. I am clearly not ready for competition, and I want advice on how to keep my technique in check and keeping my cool during harder sparring sessions, and eventually competitions.
2: Let go of the self imposed expectation that you must win and never be hit (outside real life and death situations or actual competition). Part of the preparation is getting used to shaking off a hit. That's hard enough on the physical side of things; without turning your anger inward every time someone tags you. My guess is it's your fear of losing (even though you're in class and there are no winners/losers in the developement stage of training) that's causing your flinch response (not fear of pain... as that doesn't sound like your issue).
As my BJJ instructor would always say. Don't be aftaid of getting tapped out. You learn more from getting tapped out than by easily winning every match.
 
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Only thing i can think of (other than letting somone punch you in the face) is have them punch at your face and stop before they hit you, if the flinching reflex is a issue. Or light contact it up until its not a issue. (i dont think everyone can get rid of it) Or thats the principle anyway, i cant really endorse letting somone hit you, especially in the head freely.
 

Oily Dragon

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Hey guys, I’ve just been taking a summer break from studying and returned home to my parents’ new house (they moved while I was abroad). I immediately found some kickboxing classes and a gym and trained as hard as I could. I took part in the sparring, and I found myself to have improved great lengths since lockdown began - I hadn’t sparred in a year and a half, but I spent all my time in lockdown focusing on drills, shadowboxing and polishing my techniques. I found myself to be cleaner and more polished and not nearly as scared as I used to. This was sparring at around 40-60%intensity depending on my partner.

I spoke to my coach there and told him that I was aiming to compete and he told me that I needed to get used to taking and receiving harder shots through hard sparring. Eventually I came down to a sparring session and I upped the ante to about 80%. The first round I wore headgear, but I found myself constantly getting hit and frustrated as I had to adjust my headgear way too much and it was obstructing my view. I took it off and switched partners.

Now keep in mind in this session, Inwas not using any kicks as I am attempting to heal them from Illiotal band syndrome, as per the instructions of my physio, so I was just boxing and I let my partners use their kicks: I know that I overestimated myself. I started sparring (again at around 80%) and at one point I slipped the wrong way and caught a shin sandwich to the face -roundhouse kick. It was a classic knockout. I slumped to the floor and I did my best not to cry in front of everyone, but it wasn’t from the pain, rather it was frustration.

These two rounds of sparring made me feel like when I first started boxing and was thrown into the deep end of the sport by sparring. My flinch reflex came back, and I was not able to slip or block as many hits as I usually do. I am clearly not ready for competition, and I want advice on how to keep my technique in check and keeping my cool during harder sparring sessions, and eventually competitions.
Do I just keep doing hard sparring sessions like this until I’m desensitised to it? Thanks.

This is you, right? Martial Fury. I like the tshirts.

You look as ready for competition as anybody else. It sounds like your only problem is uncertainty. That can be trained away, so keep it up.
 

JowGaWolf

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I started sparring (again at around 80%) and at one point I slipped the wrong way and caught a shin sandwich to the face -roundhouse kick.
I'm pretty sure that I and others warned you about slipping punches. Boxers slip the way they do because they don't have to worry about kicks. If you are going to slip punches, then you'll need to slip punches the way that traditional martial artist slip punches because it factors in possible kicks.

You'll see the boxer's slip in MMA but you have to take into consideration their skill level to slip + their opponent's skill level to kick. If the opponent's kick skill level is higher than the fighter's slip skill level, then you won't see the MMA guy use the boxer slip.

My flinch reflex came back, and I was not able to slip or block as many hits as I usually do.
That's because you ate that shin trying to slip a kick.

Do I just keep doing hard sparring sessions like this until I’m desensitised to it? Thanks.
Spar to learn. Instead of doing Hard Sparring stick with Medium sparring and work your techniques and game plans from there. Medium sparring should give you just enough pressure to worry about the punches and kicks, and it will allow you to make mistakes without paying a heavy price.

The heavy price you paid was with the shin to your face and now your old habits are back because you no longer have the same confidence in your skills nor techniques. You always try to advance faster than what is healthy for you.

Get your fundamentals and game plan down before you spar hard. Hard sparring is no place to experiment with unpolished skills.
 

JowGaWolf

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That said, your coach may be right, and to achieve your personal goals, it may be necessary to "up the ante". On the other hand if you are taking really hard shots, beginning to flinch again and lose your skill, maybe you need to scale it back a bit.
That's definitely the case. If he were my student I would have him on a year plan worth of light to medium sparring. This will allow a person to get at least 2 sparring sessions in week and still have enough healing time in between. I wouldn't allow him to go hard sparring until he could master the skills with medium sparring. One year worth of medium sparring will toughen the body as well without damaging it too munch. Anything that isn't clean with medium sparring gets push down into the light sparring days until that skill set improves.

Based on what you wrote, I would say 'ego' is the biggest hill you have to conquer. Let me explain:
Correct. I've been sitting back since day one of him sharing his training, sitting in my lawn chair with a nice drink and waiting for the train wreck.

So you should probably pick a lane. Especially at 80%
For me I consider 80% power fighting power. Even in competition fighters will throw 80% at someone as it's unrealistic to throw 100% power all the time. The thing to remember is the power level of sparring partners. 80% power could easily feel like 120% percent depending on who the opponent is.

You look as ready for competition as anybody else. It sounds like your only problem is uncertainty.
slipping and eating a shin will do that to a person.
 

jayoliver00

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Hard sparring at 80% to 100% is important to become a real fighter. But I only do so at around 20% of my sparring.

If you're getting killed by certain fighters, then go lighter towards them and hopefully they lower their power. If they don't, then just ask them to. Everybody has ego and it's usually a lie to say that people "check them at the door". Just tell them the truth, that they're kicking your A.

Winning is important in sparring, that's how champions are made. But if someone's beating my butt, I'd rather submit to them and go lighter. Against dudes my level, then it's war.

Headgear usually makes it worse as you're head is a bigger target; it's dry so the hits are more flushed & solid as opposed to a sweaty, slippery bare head that the shots can glance off, etc. Worse is the obstruction to your vision. My best headgear, I can hardly see knees coming; head roundhouse kicks are even worse.
 

JowGaWolf

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Winning is important in sparring,
Winning is important in Fighting and in Competition
Learning is important in sparring. One can't win a fight without learning. If you are trying to Win in sparring and Win in fighting, then when are you learning how to do things?
 

Oily Dragon

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Winning is important in Fighting and in Competition
Learning is important in sparring. One can't win a fight without learning. If you are trying to Win in sparring and Win in fighting, then when are you learning how to do things?

Given what you're training when you spar (to win a challenge), you're trying to learn to win a fight, so you need to have a winning mindset. Light sparring is never really going to really get you to that point, kind of like always taking half the distance to the goal. That also doesn't mean you need to maul your training partners. Done right people who want to go 50% should be paired up. People who can only go 50 but want 80 should be paired with people who can bring them there.

But nobody, nobody, nobody learns anything by getting hurt in training, except how much it stinks have it happen but even worse, to cause it, and how much it costs. Crazy as it might seem, good martial arts training is careful at all times, and by that I mean carefully portioned off to the appropriate level of the defender. A good senior student should be able to laugh off most newer student attempts, with exception, and that exception is how you identify growth.

This is all just my personal opinion about sparring, based on experience with different skillsets.
 

Oily Dragon

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Hard sparring at 80% to 100% is important to become a real fighter. But I only do so at around 20% of my sparring.

If you're getting killed by certain fighters, then go lighter towards them and hopefully they lower their power. If they don't, then just ask them to. Everybody has ego and it's usually a lie to say that people "check them at the door". Just tell them the truth, that they're kicking your A.

Winning is important in sparring, that's how champions are made. But if someone's beating my butt, I'd rather submit to them and go lighter. Against dudes my level, then it's war.

Headgear usually makes it worse as you're head is a bigger target; it's dry so the hits are more flushed & solid as opposed to a sweaty, slippery bare head that the shots can glance off, etc. Worse is the obstruction to your vision. My best headgear, I can hardly see knees coming; head roundhouse kicks are even worse.

People who go hard all the time break a lot faster, sparring wise. Most training time should be spent on drilling basics and conditioning rather than all out war on a regular basis.

A lot of people who overtrain in sparring end up unable to use their skills later on, when they might need them. Look at the pros, they're not always sparring as much as they're doing a lot of other things that don't seem as exciting to watch, like lifting, that mean a lot more when it comes time to fight. And they fight for a living. They know that it is not cost effective to get hurt in training. In the Octagon, getting hurt might still make them some coin.
 

JowGaWolf

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Given what you're training when you spar (to win a challenge), you're trying to learn to win a fight, so you need to have a winning mindset.
Not trying to start an argument. Just trying to give you some insight on what I'm thinking when I use the term "Learning" and how I see "Learning."

The way I train and teach is like playing chess. Here's an example. "When you practice chess to win a competition, your trying to learn to win a chess competition so you need to have a winning mindset. " But if you can't do any of that until you learn how to successfully execute chess techniques. If you never spend time to learn how to use and get the most out of moving the knight, the bishop, the rook the pawn the queen and the king. Then how can you win, when you lack those skills?

I don't need to learn Kung Fu in order to win a fight. But I do need to learn kung fu in order to win a fight by using kung fu. I cannot win with kung fu until I learn how to use kung fu. If I just want to win a competition or a fight then I can easily choose other ways. This is why kung fu competitions and a lot of sparring never often never look like kung fu. they train.


I cannot win with the guitar until I learn how to play and use chess techniques
I cannot win with the piano until I learn how to play and use piano techniques
I cannot win with chess until I learn how to play and use chess techniques
I cannot win with BJJ until I learn how to use BJJ Techniques
I cannot win with baseball until I learn how to use baseball techniques.

No matter what the activity is, one has to learn first before they can even have a possibility to win with what they train.
I cannot win a kung fu form competition until I learn how to do kung fu Techniques.

I have have the biggest winning mindset and none of that matter if I can't apply what I train.

When it's competition time. You are counting on skills that you know and have already learned how to use. Which is why guys like this don't do well.

They learned how to DO Techniques but not how to USE Techniques. Now if the person just wants to win a fight, then there's no need to do all of that Martial Art's training. Just bring a pipe or a knife and work it out. A win is a win Right?
 
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JowGaWolf

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@Oily Dragon my sparring partner only cared about winning and getting the best of me in sparring. As a result his learning was shallow. What he saw as me losing, was to me learning. I never cared about winning in sparring. After all it's sparring. But if you watch my videos sparring against him, you can see easily see that I'm using Jow Ga. Even when we started to hit harder, you can see that I was still able to use Jow Ga.

The harder we sparred the less martial arts he used. Why is that? If a person learns how to use something then it should be there when the fight or competition comes.

I'm sure these guys had a winning mindset. More so than the guy that beat them down.
 

JowGaWolf

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But nobody, nobody, nobody learns anything by getting hurt in training, except how much it stinks have it happen but even worse, to cause it, and how much it costs. Crazy as it might seem, good martial arts training is careful at all times, and by that I mean carefully portioned off to the appropriate level of the defender.
I agree with you 100% getting hurt in training. (Hurt meaning any injury that isn't a light one) . Strikes in training should never make either one of the participants afraid or doubt valid techniques.
 

jayoliver00

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People who go hard all the time break a lot faster, sparring wise. Most training time should be spent on drilling basics and conditioning rather than all out war on a regular basis.

That's why I said, hard sparring about, "20% of the time". And nobody "go hard all the time", that's almost impossible.

A lot of people who overtrain in sparring end up unable to use their skills later on, when they might need them. Look at the pros, they're not always sparring as much as they're doing a lot of other things that don't seem as exciting to watch, like lifting, that mean a lot more when it comes time to fight. And they fight for a living. They know that it is not cost effective to get hurt in training. In the Octagon, getting hurt might still make them some coin.

Well nobody spars all the time. Pros spars a lot. They just do a lot more of everything else, also, at the full time, high level Pro. And they do spar hard, up to dropping their partners. The ones who can afford it, bring in sparring partners to drop. The paid sparring partners who do too good, get sent home.

Everybody gets hurt in training, it's rare to have zero injuries before a fight; even at the Amateur level.
 
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jayoliver00

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Winning is important in Fighting and in Competition
Learning is important in sparring. One can't win a fight without learning. If you are trying to Win in sparring and Win in fighting, then when are you learning how to do things?

Who says you can't win and learn, and a bunch of other things; while sparring?

Train in BJJ sometimes. Everybody knows who tapped them and how many times; they just don't talk about it unless it's between friends.
 

JowGaWolf

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Who says you can't win and learn, and a bunch of other things; while sparring?

When you spar to win, you will only use your best skill set. You aren't going to spar with your worst skill sets because that defeats the goal of winning. Even if you are scoring by punches and kicks. For me to use something that will almost guarantee that I'll be hit, therefore giving you a point, works against me trying to win. And I'm definitely not going to spar at 80% and try to land a new technique that I barely know how to use. If I'm trying to win, then I'm trying to use skill sets that I have a high level of capability. You come with you A-game to win not your F-Game

From what I see in BJJ training. My guess is that they set up a bunch of mini goals Roll for longer times, Be submitted less, Escape more. Land more successful techniques. Screw up less. I would be shocked if rolling is only about winning.
 
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