Sparring is Dead

Gyakuto

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I’m sure all be saying you do this 😉


It’s an interesting concept, but don't one’s skills require some ‘pressure testing’ so that in highly stressful situations they still hold a modicum of effectiveness?
 

Taiji Rebel

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Some spar some don't. In boxing gyms we had various levels of sparring. Firstly we'd drill the skills and get them into the muscle memory. Then we'd take them into the ring and practice these drills in light sparring. A lot of the youngsters wanted to go hard all the time, myself included when I first began, but it was better to take things lightly. Hard sparring hurts and I'd sometimes end up with headaches for a day or two afterwards... different clubs I trained in took different approaches. Sparring can become a little too macho at times and you have to ask yourself if it is truly necessary for you to spar. If you're fighting in competitions then of course, but if you're just training in an art for health and fitness reasons then it's not so important. Opinions will differ of course :)
 

Fungus

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The point of dopamine increasing plasticity is a good one.

I have some technical issues with his prerformance vs arousal graph though. I am not sure arousal as in symphatetic activation does not necessarily have a peak like that, I would expect the "peak performance" to be where have maximum challenge and does not feel threat, this is what keeps cortisol low and dopmaine higher. If one maintains the balanced often called "psychological flow", one can increase symphatetic and vagal tones in harmony, to make arousal higher but without feeling the "threat/fear" and cortisol flowing.

Beeing able stay away from the threat/fear mode in a real situation will likely mean you are better off too. But that is not quite the same as staying away from high arousal I think?

We are often told in our fighting classes to sometimes let the opponent in, so it is indeed a game.

But we are also told to use enough power to cause real pain (but not permament damage). This is to not falsely learn that you do not need to block the strikes. In the beginning I found that I didn't have to block low kicks, I could just angle and tense my leg. But only until someone comes in with both technique and power, than you can do it only a limited number times. This is also an importan less I think. You learn to prioritize, what you MUST block, and what you just take, and what you can take 2-3 times during one fight.
 

Fungus

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The title is weird though. Sparring isn't "dead", it's just that sparring should be done the right way. Not like actual brawls where one loose teeth or breaking a bone. There is plenty of "room" between thatn range and touch fighting/point fighting where you are a couple of cm off, to allow for serious very high contact fighting.

Even as a beginner in kyokushin I have never ever felt "fear" in the dojo.
 

Fungus

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Sparring can become a little too macho at times and you have to ask yourself if it is truly necessary for you to spar. If you're fighting in competitions then of course, but if you're just training in an art for health and fitness reasons then it's not so important. Opinions will differ of course :)
Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I am a nice 50+ guy, that aren't interested in competitions, never been in real brawls, but I love the feeling of beeing sore from strikes after fighting class! It is there for 2-3 days and then I'm ready for another go. It gives me energy! I sit in front of my damn computer all day at work, so I love the fighting, it's a contrast.

I prefer to go hard, give and take bruises gives energy and is mental training, but only to the point where noone gets permanent hurt. When that happens - it's by accident. So far I have had no accidents. I find that if it's too light, and just a touch fight, it's kind of boring.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Some spar some don't. In boxing gyms we had various levels of sparring. Firstly we'd drill the skills and get them into the muscle memory. Then we'd take them into the ring and practice these drills in light sparring. A lot of the youngsters wanted to go hard all the time, myself included when I first began, but it was better to take things lightly. Hard sparring hurts and I'd sometimes end up with headaches for a day or two afterwards... different clubs I trained in took different approaches. Sparring can become a little too macho at times and you have to ask yourself if it is truly necessary for you to spar. If you're fighting in competitions then of course, but if you're just training in an art for health and fitness reasons then it's not so important. Opinions will differ of course :)
It’s my opinion that some level of sparring is necessary to work on dynamic flow (moving among techniques and between offense/defense in a chaotic situation), and to test your ability to deal with an opponent’s attempts to thwart your plans. Arguably, more and harder is better for both of those purposes, but we have to balance that with other priorities, like cranial health, risk of injury, recovery time, etc.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I am a nice 50+ guy, that aren't interested in competitions, never been in real brawls, but I love the feeling of beeing sore from strikes after fighting class! It is there for 2-3 days and then I'm ready for another go. It gives me energy! I sit in front of my damn computer all day at work, so I love the fighting, it's a contrast.

I prefer to go hard, give and take bruises gives energy and is mental training, but only to the point where noone gets permanent hurt. When that happens - it's by accident. So far I have had no accidents. I find that if it's too light, and just a touch fight, it's kind of boring.
I haven’t trained in a while, and my primary art has a lot of throwing, so I wouldn’t be able to go as hard now (I just can’t take the hard falls over and over). But I still love going hard. I’m not as good at my striking game, but that’s where I could still take more of a beating - excepting my head (both for my brain and because of a now-chronic issue with my neck). Going hard with someone you trust is a blast!
 

Fungus

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I haven’t trained in a while, and my primary art has a lot of throwing, so I wouldn’t be able to go as hard now (I just can’t take the hard falls over and over). But I still love going hard. I’m not as good at my striking game, but that’s where I could still take more of a beating - excepting my head (both for my brain and because of a now-chronic issue with my neck). Going hard with someone you trust is a blast!
I have to adapt too. My main issue is some directional nerve/back issues, so beeing randomly throwed could probably be risky for me as well. But I've had no probelm when beeing swept to the ground so far. But I wrestled as a kid, and there are some things there that would not be advisable for me now. For example the wrestlers bridge would be bad stuff for me. Also some throwse would imply alot of back extension, which is bad stuff for me.

I also have som speed issues, when it comes to the "snappy" kicks as sometimes they cause counter snaps in the back.

My style doesn't allow head punches, I like conditioning the body and my mind, but the head is an exception. This is why mma, thai boxing etc is not something I wouldnt choose to do, the risk seems too high no matter how fun.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I have to adapt too. My main issue is some directional nerve/back issues, so beeing randomly throwed could probably be risky for me as well. But I've had no probelm when beeing swept to the ground so far. But I wrestled as a kid, and there are some things there that would not be advisable for me now. For example the wrestlers bridge would be bad stuff for me. Also some throwse would imply alot of back extension, which is bad stuff for me.

I also have som speed issues, when it comes to the "snappy" kicks as sometimes they cause counter snaps in the back.

My style doesn't allow head punches, I like conditioning the body and my mind, but the head is an exception. This is why mma, thai boxing etc is not something I wouldnt choose to do, the risk seems too high no matter how fun.
I’m kind of glad I didn’t get into a heavy striking style that would have included head shots. I’d definitely have been one of the young guys with no regard for the long-term effects. I had at least two mild concussions from bad falls, and probably a couple of others from soccer. That’s more than enough.
 

HighKick

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I’m sure all be saying you do this 😉


It’s an interesting concept, but don't one’s skills require some ‘pressure testing’ so that in highly stressful situations they still hold a modicum of effectiveness?
This is a rather 'woke' outlook on the subject to me.

I really have to look at this through two lenes. In my competition days, compared to the rest of my training, I did not hard spar a ton. What we did the most was more drill/technique based. There was ebb and flow to the intensity level. I suspect this is still true by enlarge, just possibly called something else.
But there was definitely value in pushing the buttons to get my adrenaline and yes, a little anger (or whatever the correct physiological term is) going. So, for me, hard sparring has value.
We called it the 'switch'. It was trigger that was mentally 'turned on' when enough pressure was induced. It changes a person in ways I don't feel I can describe. Quite carnal. I never want that switch to turn on too easily or want to become so conditioned that it triggers at the least little thing. I had to learn how to turn this switch on at/before matches started.
I can go back and watch some of my matches (VHS, yeah it was that long ago) and think "who is that guy"? At the level I competed, I was usually out classed physically. I had to be better conditioned, better at the chess match, and yes, able to be more aggressive when called for. I did not have the luxury of 'peaceful confrontation' and had to get my opponent shook up to gain an advantage. In a nutshell, I had to get my adrenaline up and keep it up, usually lasting until well after the match(es) were over.

Now, at a well-seasoned age, I wonder sometimes if I could even find that switch to turn on anymore. I can certainly turn up my awareness and intensity, but not to that level I do not believe.
 

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Not sparring in Martial training is like having no contact sex. I mean, you could do it, but it wouldn’t be as much fun.
 

isshinryuronin

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Now, at a well-seasoned age, I wonder sometimes if I could even find that switch to turn on anymore.
If you have practiced hard for a decade or two, you would likely be able to flick that switch after you get hit the first time. A good dose of sudden pain is a great wake up call for your latent survival instincts.
 

HighKick

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If you have practiced hard for a decade or two, you would likely be able to flick that switch after you get hit the first time. A good dose of sudden pain is a great wake up call for your latent survival instincts.
Yeah, that was one of my problems. Sometimes I have to get rocked a little to really get going.
 

Hot Lunch

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It’s an interesting concept, but don't one’s skills require some ‘pressure testing’ so that in highly stressful situations they still hold a modicum of effectiveness?
If you're training for a competitive sport, I'd think so.

If you're training for self-defense, I don't think it is. In fact, it may even be detrimental.

For example, in karate, I know what my sparring partner knows and my sparring partner knows what I know. We know (for example) that whoever commits to a punch first, the other person is going to try to block and counter. So now, we have to find ways around that and it ends up coming down to who has the best strategy.

The attacker on the street is going into straight berserker mode. He's not trying to be strategic with you. So while you may have been extra cautious to commit to a punch when sparring in the dojo, you don't have to against the berserker. As a matter of fact, that cautiousness is a luxury that you don't have in that situation.
 

MuayJitsu

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Those ufc guys the reason they’re not sparring is because they’ve already done enough sparring over the years that they don’t need it as much anymore. Sparring is 100% needed. Full contact sparring? No that’s not needed but you need some sparring. I see wonderboy in the thumbnail he absolutely spars he spars with everyone in his gym from beginners to advanced but he does it smart and doesn’t go hard on head shots
 

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This is the pendulum swing from the opposite side where if you weren't "hard sparring" then you weren't a real martial artist/fighter.

Too many schools were doing only compliant drills, then it swung the complete opposite way in many schools that had an almost no rules sparring and there were lots of injuries.

Quickly people realized that there should be a middle of the road where skills are developed gradually against a resistive opponent without injuring yourself all the time.

Of course, if you are kicking your own butt and too injured to go out, then you are safe from the "bad guys". lol
 

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Even if the extent of your "sparring" is only practicing gohon/sanbon/ippon kumite drills or other kata-based bunkai drills with partners three times a week in the dojo, please understand that the aggressor you run into on the streets isn't doing any of that. You are relying on your training to fight this aggressor. The aggressor, on the other hand, is relying on their own hopes that they sized you up correctly and nothing else. Which is the exact same thing you would have relied on had you never trained in martial arts at all.
 
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