When do you start sparring?

Herbie

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I spent about 3 years doing Wing Chun. I enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit. One thing I always looked forward to, but never got to do, was sparring. My sifu talked about the importance of sparring, but said it was only done at higher ranks. At the time I left the school, his most senior students had been there about 5 years, and were still not sparring. When do most schools incorporate sparring?
 

JowGaWolf

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At my school we do some type of sparring on day one of buying the protective gear. If a person joined the class on Wednesday and wanted to spar the next day on Thursday, then we allow that student to participate. The sooner we can get students to use Jow Ga kung fu in sparring, the better.
 

anerlich

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I'm assuming sparring means light to medium contact with protective gear (cup, mouthpiece, MMA gloves, shin pads). No deliberate head contact unless you have min 12 oz gloves and a reasonable amount of experience.

Maybe three months. Certainly not years. You need to develop a base of basic technique and control, but only a bit. It should be an exchange of technique, not a death match.

If you have previous MA experience, you can spar first class assuming the waiver is signed.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I use sparring as "warm up" before the class start. So students don't have choice.

The advantages to spar on day one are:

- If a student doesn't like fighting, he won't waste time in that school.
- If teacher doesn't like to teach a student who doesn't like fighting, the teacher won't waste time on that student.
- A student will know what's missing on his body. Later on when teacher helps him to fill up those weakness, he will pay attention on it.
- ...

All swimming instructors will require their students to jump into water on day one.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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They probably won't insist they jump off the ten meter board into 16 feet of water, though.
They won't teach their students how to swim on the dry land either.

swim_on_dry_land.jpg


I like to start sparring with:

- One person play offense.
- One person play defense (He can only dodge, block. He can not hit back).
 

anerlich

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I like to start sparring with:

- One person play offense.
- One person play defense (He can only dodge, block. He can not hit back).

Well, that was my point. You are starting them off in the shallow end of the pool.

I prefer to tell them something like, both of you can only strike with the lead hand, to start, to reduce the variables. But, whatever.

Dry land swimming? Terence was throwing that at us 15 years ago, bro.

There are some useful drills for ground grappling that look a lot like dry land swimming.
 

gpseymour

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I use sparring as "warm up" before the class start. So students don't have choice.

The advantages to spar on day one are:

- If a student doesn't like fighting, he won't waste time in that school.
- If teacher doesn't like to teach a student who doesn't like fighting, the teacher won't waste time on that student.
- A student will know what's missing on his body. Later on when teacher helps him to fill up those weakness, he will pay attention on it.
- ...

All swimming instructors will require their students to jump into water on day one.
I can see some benefits to day-one sparring. However, I can also see some drawbacks. Someone who is completely inept, but who wants to learn, can easily feel like there's no place for them. If you manage the expectation with them, then it probably isn't a problem often. I doubt there's much learning value in first-day sparring, but probably no harm in it, either. One big benefit of it would be for the folks who think they are better than they are.

The more I think about it, the more I want to figure out a way to get something like this in very early. I just have to figure out how to keep it safe and meaningful within what we do.
 

Kenposcholar

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Our American Kenpo school begins controlled sparring at 1 year and live (ground & standing) sparring at 2 years. After 4 years we begin freestyle fighting. However, this is all depending on the level that the student is at during the time of their training. Some students who dedicate themselves to the art more can be introduced to certain styles of training earlier than others.
 

geezer

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That's very sad indeed. You can only spar when you are young.


So you suggest sparring on day one, but say you can only spar when you are young.

That entirely rules out teaching mature students. My students are nearly all adults, ranging from their mid-thirties to early sixties, plus one guy in his early 20s and one neat old guy in his 80s (who is indeed is a bit old for sparring). But the others?

Are you saying that if you are not young and fond of fighting that you have no place learning Wing Chun? :(
 

geezer

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Why can you only spar when you're young?

Yeah. I agree that you shouldn't be fighting or going whole hog, heavy contact when you are old, but to just say that you can't spar seems kinda harsh ...at least to me since I'm 61.

...OK, Maybe in Judo and Shuai Chiau it's too rough on an older guy's body. But in WC? Or something like BJJ? I don't do BJJ but I know some guys my age that do. Seems like fun... Can't sparring be fun? :)
 

JR 137

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You have to define sparring. Is it free-sparring? Full contact? Non-contact? Partner drill sparring?

To me, no sparring until 5 years in seems like the student only practiced basics against the air or even pads, and never had someone in front of him/her. Even doing 1 steps where one person attacks at a specific time with a specific technique and at a specific target is a form of sparring.

If they did a ton of situational stuff, I'd be ok with it. I've seen videos of Okinawan karate in Okinawa doing full contact situational type stuff that is indeed sparring but not the free-sparring that most people immediately think of. YouTube the documentary Tee: The Spirit of Okinawan Karate. There's a part where a British guy is going back and forth with his classmates and keeps getting hit. That's definitely sparring to me. Not free sparring, but sparring nonetheless. If they're doing stuff like that and at that level of contact for 5 years, then there's nothing wrong IMO.

Free-sparring is a relatively new thing in karate. Mas Oyama was criticized by his peers for his full contact free sparring that went against the norm. It may very well have been why he formed Kyokushin in the first place. Gogen Yamaguchi of Goju Kai was also a pioneer in this regard. But just because these guys brought free sparring into the mainstream doesn't mean no one before them trained hard and no one got hit pretty hard during training.

So 5 years until sparring? Depends on what you're calling sparring.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Why can you only spar when you're young?
I'm talking about "full contact" and not "light contact".

After you get married, get a full time job, have kids, have house and car payment, you don't want to get punched on the head. IMO, people should try to develop as much as fighting experience as they can when they are still young.
 
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Danny T

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I'm talking about "full contact" and not "light contact".

After you get married, get a full time job, have kids, have house and car payment, you don't want to get punched on the head. IMO, people should try to develop as much as fighting experience as they can when they are still young.
We do spar full contact and we do spar hard, just not full power.
 

Andrew Green

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I spent about 3 years doing Wing Chun. I enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit. One thing I always looked forward to, but never got to do, was sparring. My sifu talked about the importance of sparring, but said it was only done at higher ranks. At the time I left the school, his most senior students had been there about 5 years, and were still not sparring. When do most schools incorporate sparring?

Sparring is not one thing, there are any number of ways to do it including any number of things. Sparring like you are prepping for a pro-mms fight? A lot will never get there, but some form of sparring? Day one. That's why you're there and what you are there to do.

A 3 yr old wrestling with dad... that's sparring. Anyone can spar, it's just a matter of drawing appropriate lines to ensure safety and make sure its fun.

Our youngest students are 3, and even they spar from their first class. Within 20 mins of their orientation class they are sparring with a instructor. In their first group class (2nd class) they spar with a instructor to get their white belt.
 
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