the sparring debate

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warriorsage

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Many have said (both here and everywhere else) that sparring is the ultimate form of training. OR it is the best form of training, atleast where self defense is concerned. I can see why many say this and I will admit that most students who are GREAT at sparring are probably quite capable at self defense (aside from the few who have only a blazing flick of a back fist). But in Kenpo, we actively practice self-defense techniques. In the schools I've been associated with, we've always taken it a bit further than the standard technique line and have worked the techniques in many various drills (semi-circle, random attacks, blind-folded, etc). None of these appropriately address the fear/stress/surprise of a real attack, but they are a step in the right direction.

Sparring doesn't give you much of that. Sparring is a tool. It is great for conditioning, for distancing, timing, etc, but that is where it ends in my book. I think if sparring is to be a truly effective tool for self defense, we need to change the way we do it. I'm not talking about going from point sparring to continous, or NHB. The change I'm talking about addresses one of my biggest problems with sparring. Sparring for me has always been two karate guys fighting each other with karate moves. I know the few things he's going to do and he knows my things AND they are not the kind of things a skilled or unskilled street fighter is going to do. Plain and simple.

What I've started doing with one of my partners is kind of a blend between technique practice and freestyle. One guy agrees to be the karate guy and the other is the street fighter, doing a wide variety of punches(jabs, crosses, hooks, whatever) and attempted grabs, tackles, etc) and a few punt-style kicks. He doesn't just do the attack and stop while I beat him up, as in technique lines. He keeps on fighting as if we were doing usual sparring. This, to me, is a great tool. It's not perfect, it's not reality, but it is the most useful sparring I've done at this point in my training. I was sick of trying to defend mainly against back knuckle/ reverse punch, side kick type attacks...attacks where we were both trying to get in quick and get back out.

Anyone have any thoughts on this??
 

Klondike93

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Interesting idea, I'd like to give this a try and see how it goes.

What kind of padding do you use, the normal sparring gear or something more like a body armour?

:asian:
 
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Battousai

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Ya I agree with you totally Warriorsage, sparring is very limited as it is most widely practiced. Real life is not two people standing a couple of feet apart and continuously kicking at each others head. Every single sparring session that I have ever seen involves people practicing reverse kicks on each other, exposing their spine, a real life attack that could end with the kicker in a wheel chair, very stupid to do the technique as everyone does it in sparring.
 

Robbo

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You say he doesn't stop punching and kicking you while you do your technique. I think the idea is cool but if you can't hit him like you are suppossed to how do you discourage furthur punching and kicking on his part?

When I say "supposed to" I don't mean the shots to the abdomin, I'm referring to the eye gouges, arm breaks/hyperextensions, etc.
 
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Kirk

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There's quite a few people in my class that have never ever in
their lives been involved in a fight. Let's say you eliminate
sparring (like my school has I think). How will these people ever
be able to see a strike coming? They've never seen one before!
I've heard that in the advanced class there's some slamming
going on, so maybe they earn that skill there?
 
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tonbo

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At my school, the "upper levels" spar pretty much as you propose. There is no "flash", and your opponent/partner is generally not letting up on you. The only real exception is if you agree to work on something with your partner (i.e., "I need to work on my hands"), and they agree to help you out with it. Otherwise, it is pretty much an onslaught from the word "go" until the word "break".

I have worked students with sparring drills where they were given one combination or technique that they can pull off, regardless of what their opponent is doing. That proves pretty interesting, watching the adaptations. The student is limited to the strikes in the technique, although they can block all they want to.....goal is to get that technique in as much as possible.

Another drill we do is multiple opponent sparring. Depending on the level, we will have one student face off against two or three. The goal?? Stay out of the middle, and "stack" your opponents.

Finally, another drill I have done is "situational" sparring. This takes two forms:

Form 1: One student is the "victim", and leaves the room for a few minutes. The rest of the students are identified as either "attackers" or "neutrals". The goal of the "victim" is to make it across the room without running and tag a heavy bag. The "neutrals" can approach and talk to the "victim" and get in his/her way, but can't fight or hold him/her; the "attackers" can attack, at any point, and possibly in combination with others. The point is that the "victim" has to keep his/her wits, never knowing who is neutral and who is aggressive.

Form 2: I set up kick shields, blockers, pool noodles, etc. and identify them as various pieces of furniture, lampposts, flowerpots, etc., depending on the environment that I want to create. I also then put in a couple of "innocent bystanders" and have two combatants. If the combatants bump into or strike any of the bystanders, the bystanders can jump into the fight, against either or both of the opponents. The goal is to avoid hitting bystanders, and avoid the furniture, etc. Great fun, when you have a sidewalk "setting", and identify a "road"....."Fall in the 'road', you die"...;)

We have also done variations with weapons of both of the above. The whole goal is to get a break from the usual "Rock 'em, Sock 'em Robots" approach of normal sparring and to create situational awareness.

As mentioned, sparring is what you make of it.

Oh, yeah....we do this with the advanced belts (generally brown and higher), and with padding (head, hands, groin, mouthpiece). We don't want to freak out the lower/intermediate belts...:D

Peace--
 
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warriorsage

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Thanks folks for the input and questions. When I was saying the attacker keeps going and never stops punching/kicking, etc, that was misleading. He stops and starts as he sees fit. What he doesn't do, however, is just throw one attack and then wait while you rattle off a technique. He attacks and backs off just as he would in typical continuous sparring. The main difference is the types of attacks he throws. No high kicks, spin kicks, no shuffling in w/ back knuckles, no karate-style reverse punches. The kind of freestyle I'm describing would be the same that you would do if you took a friend or relative (one without a lot of ego and some control) who had no martial arts training and told them you were going to spar a bit. You explain fully about control and not really trying to blast each other. The type of attacks he/she would throw would be close to what I'm looking for. Of course, this isn't foolproof because they would probably not be aggressive enough due to their concern with your awesome "karate" skills.

I haven't done this with an untrained person, but I have on occassion asked a friend or two how they would try to hit me if the situation arose, to get an idea of what an untrained (or atleast non-martial art trained) person would try to hit me.

Keep the ideas coming. Salute!
 

Klondike93

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I had the chance to practice a lot of the self defense techniques on someone that didn't know them so I got different reactions than someone that does. It helped with some what if things, cause some of them just didn't do what they were supose to.

warriorsage: what about padding and protection? what kinds do you use? what about power, how much? Last, what kinds of conclusions have you come to so far?

:asian:
 
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RCastillo

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If I'm right about what I read here, I agree with many of the posts. I use it as a tool , means of conditioning, and develop my skills. It's tougher working against someone who has the same skills as you do, but makes you work harder. But in the past, I've gotten too comfortable with the pads, so that can become a problem. I work on NOT being too comeitive with my partners because there is little merit involved, and I'm not going all out, and using all my tools either.

Thanks for listening!:)
 
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warriorsage

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Klondike, we pad up as usual for this type of sparring, which usually means hand pads, mouth piece and groin protection. We don't usually wear head gear or foot pads, but do wear athletic shoes. It should also be noted that we don't do this 100 miles an hour, really trying to nail each other. I'd like to eventually work up to that pace, but for now it's been interesting trying to actually learn what to do and how to move against these attacks. I've found that I need to use the sparring mentality (instead of technique mode) at this point. Every time I've tried to actually do a technique, I've been caught off guard because I was thinking too much. This I think is more a biproduct of my lack of skill and experience, not a knock against doing techniques. I also think it has showed me that I don't have the tech's hardwired enough into my being to make them really work like they should. Peace
 
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brianhunter

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Man many well said points......I think sparring has many positives, such as developing stamina, seeing physical attacks, and learning some positioning. The only problem I see is it is not close to what a real world situation will be. Like any training I think you need to incorporate other training ideas and techniques to work more of your warrior aspect.
 

Goldendragon7

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You guys have a good start! I really like to spar for several reasons....... many which have been mentioned above. I also (used to) like to fight full contact. I quit because the training was so hard for so little. but the benefits were great but painful. lol.....

I was one of those rare individuals that could switch back and forth with out too much trouble. Others have a hard time adjusting.

It is fun!

:asian: :D
 
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brianhunter

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full contact?? you mean tourney's have actually done that? (hint of sarcasim)
 

Goldendragon7

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No not in tourneys...... but seperate events. But it has been a long time sine 1978! wow

somebody stoppppppp meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
:asian:
 

Klondike93

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Have you been in any tournaments lately GD? Do you still sparr with the students?

Nosey bugger aint I :rofl:


:asian:
 

Goldendragon7

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I haven't entered any tournaments in a while..... but I miss it. I don't spar as of late with my students either.....(they are too mean)! lol (but I'm on the comeback trail).

:asian:
 

ikenpo

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I guess what I've concluded is that sparring is one type of fighting and self defense is another. When you perform a self defense technique it is normally against someone who is attempting to attack without you being aware of the attack. This would be what I would call an uncommitted situation. So you react accordingly. When you are stepped to by a person that is ready to attack you (i.e. hands up, moving around, etc..) I considered this to be a committed situation and would therefore probably take a more agressive posture, possibly a sparring posture if they were already aware that I "knew something". Another instance would be where you've done a technique and it didn't work now your in a committed situation.

Techniques weren't developed to be done verbatum in the heat of battle. The question is can you develop a mental congnition fast enough to at any point in altercation take a part of a self defense technique and apply it. Then can you progress to the point where you string those movements together into a spontaneous sequence until you can lock into a familiar pattern (technique)?

I don't think there is any shame is falling back into a "sparring" framework when all else fails. Particular if survival is the name of the game.

Just a thought, jb
 

Goldendragon7

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Yes, after years of conditioning. I have done just that at times. But at other times I have reverted to just sparring. So it depends greatly on your frame of mind and conditioning and needs of the time.

:asian:
 

ikenpo

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Maybe they were and I just haven't seen it done. Which doesn't mean anything because I haven't seen a lot of stuff. I mean I never saw the RIP in real life until I had Mr. C (GD7) show me.

I do remember hearing way back when, that Steve Sanders could execute full techniques during sparring matches. But then again Bruce Lee said he (Sanders) had the fastest hands he had ever seen.

Respectfully, jb
 
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