View Full Version : Sparing

03-13-2000, 07:05 PM
So, when you folks spar in-kwoon, do you 'go at it' more often than not? Meaning putting power into your movements or do you spar softer, meaning you try to work more on the flow and interchange of fighting?

03-13-2000, 07:22 PM
Depends on my mood (and no, that's not a "female perogative" thing). It also depends on who I'm up against. There are a couple of guy in my kwoon, the black belts, who are also weight lifters. They insist you go hard on them, but they will only go fast on you, with a little pop to it (enough to shock and/or smart, but not enough to injure). They're fun.

There's another guy in my dojang, 6'4", 230-240 lbs brown belt, been in it for years, but stopped for a while. OK. I'm 5'4", 120 lbs., is it really necessary to through a crecent or a spin hook kick over my head or push me into the wall with a push front or a side kick? I wail on him, but it doesn't phase him at all! It pushes me back (he's got a solid paunch stomach)! Drives me nuts.

With my training partner, we'll start off soft to practice the flow and techniques. Then, we end up going pretty hard (she and I are about the same size, she has 1" and about 15 pounds on me, so we're a good match up). That's in TKD.

In kung fu, except with the black belts, I try to work on flow. I've only been doing it two years, and I need a lot of practice. Besides, I get to go hard in TKD, so I have the luxury of being able to practice technique in kung fu before I have to be concerned with power.

Surrender yourself to nature, and be all that you are.

03-13-2000, 09:37 PM
Depends on my mood (and no, that's not a "female perogative" thing). /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

So, with your training partner you lay the smack down? Medium contact with mittens and helmets?

About the Bear (the 6'4", 230-240 lbs brown belt), besides the fun of just sparring the dude, would you not think it more productive to run 2-person drills where you punt his knee cap across the room or drop low and fast then off to the side as you cup his balls and Monkey Picks The Fruit?

You prolly already doing this Robinf, but I thought I'd share anywho...its just the kinda guy I is /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Train hard and sweat fast!

03-14-2000, 07:50 PM
I know this is going to sound corney but if you aren't doing both flow and power you are missing the point of your sparring.
I told you it would sound corney.
But come on, I want to hit you allot and I want to hit you as hard as it takes to accomplish my goal.
In sparring, my goal is to keep you from hurting me, and to maintain a dominant position while controlling you. This control can be with strikes or throws or grappling, but I want to keep the control.
To do this, I have to have good, constant flow, and many times I'm going to have to use a decent amount of power. Most of the folks that I spar with come away pretty bruised, maybe a little bloody, but rarely broken.
And just so that I don't come off sounding arrogant (which is hard when you're as good as I am, -that was dripping sarcasm) I've got to tell you that I'm usually the one that comes out on the loosing end of the injury tally.
Of course, spar light with new folks so that you don't scare them away. Above all, treat sparring as a learning tool. And as a "testing" ground.

If you pr!ck us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that the villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. MOV

03-14-2000, 09:29 PM
Thanks for the tips, nospam. Just like a brother to look out for a sister /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif. Unfortunately, the big guy is only in my TKD, kinda limited as to what I can do when we spar.

I agree with you, and you don't sound corny. Actually, you wouldn't sound corny if I didn't agree with you. What is the point of sparring if you don't press your limits and see where you can go? Practicing aim and techique is highly important, but also practicing hitting the guy and getting hit. The first time I took a punch to the face, shocked me so much I actually stopped for a minute. Now, I hardly notice--and I've learned to block...most of the time.

It's actually good conditioning to go harder, taking breaks inbetween. My legs and arms don't bruise as easily any more.

Surrender yourself to nature, and be all that you are.

03-14-2000, 09:37 PM

I don't believe that full power sparring is necessary all of the time. If you like doing that and there are others around that also enjoy this 'fight clubbing' sorta practise, then good for yas, but it isn't necessary to effect one's kung fu.

When I read your post, it sounds more like a contest than a learning tool. It is your ability vs. another's. There can be some learning, and hopefully whenever you engage in kung fu activity you do learn, but sparring to 'be victorious' will invariably turn into performance of skill than true learning. We all want to do and be the best we can- sometimes that means being better than someone, but in my experience this sort of prastise leads to more detrimental (dis)ability (bad habits and such) than working towards perfecting one's ability.

It's an outlook, and I'm not saying your way is the wrong way, just that in my not so humble opinion, it is not the best way. Boxing works on this all-out methodology, but there is less to perfect in Western boxing than Chinese boxing. And I think this is one of the problems plaguing kung fu today, it breeds more kick-boxing fighters than kung fu fighters.

You might be an exception to my comments, but I'll still stand by my opinion. I think there are better 2-person exercises to practise and teach than free sparring. I see free-sparring as something you work into slowly as an extension of 2-person drills and exercises. The highest form of free-sparring would then be competition, where my ability is pitted against yours. I do not and would not enter into this engagement as a learning session, but one of loose or win. The only difference between free-sparring and actual fighting is lethality. Leathality encompassing targeting, technique, and level of intent.

So then, back to my initial question, how many of youse free spar all out as general practise vs other methods of skill enhancement?

I will add, I do not like to fight. I enjoy training and learning kung fu and do not kid myself as to its use, but if at all cost I would rather walk away from someone then stick it back into their face. I have sparred fast and furious for years, but have changed my perspective since then (youth..heh heh, not that nospammers is old or anythang like that). I also do not do kung fu just for the moves, that is to say to just 'look good', I do that naturally /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

I don't want to turn this into a philosophical discussion, its been done before and prolly will be again. This is about practise and methodology, not philosophy. Increasing speed and power to 2-person exercises must be done and things will esculate, but free form sparring, unless done with specific objectives, is nothing more than in-kwoon competition.

03-14-2000, 11:24 PM

Don't get me wrong, neither I nor my training partners go full power. We'd be killing ourselves. Nobody likes that. My goal isn't to hurt my partner, but it is to make the techniques work.
For instance, if I wanted to throw a punch so that I could set up a kick, I would need to punch hard enough to actually move my opponent back to give me the space I need to execute the kick.
As far as competitions, sure, I try to win. I hate learning how to be punched, thrown on the the ground and stomped over and over. After the first dozen times I generally get the feeling down pretty well. It hurts.
That said, if I'm sparring a person of lower skill I try to teach. I give them some openings to exploit, I try to help them know what will work and when it won't, by example.
But, when I spar someone better than me, I exploit any opening I can see, and I do my best to be go give as much as I get.
Given, our upper belt sparring sessions are pretty rough. Much "harder" than any point competition I've been to, and even harder than many of the "full contact" tournaments I've been to. We include the the whole body as a target, especially the groin. Going to the ground is ok, attacking a downed opponent is expected. Our contact rules are set between opponents only. There are no school rules for contact. The match is not over until someone gives up or an instructor stops it. We loose allot of people when they get to this level because they don't want to spar. I can empathize.

If you pr!ck us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that the villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. MOV

Kung Lek
03-15-2000, 01:33 AM
Hello all

My views on sparring have changed over time.

At first I was highly competitive and didn't use the learning process associated with sparring.
But now, it is more of a mutual learning process to me.

In effect, there is power and speed in varying measure dependent upon the skills of those who are sparring.
Contact is increased with students of equal ability and good knowledge whereas contact is decreased with the more inexperienced.

One attacks and the other applies techniques to those attacks and the exchanges continue as each person learns howto more effectively apply the techniques from the systems taught.

It is a great learning experience now and I am finding that my ability to actually use Kung Fu in an altercation atmosphere has improved immensly from the practice of sparring co-operatively as opposed to competitively.


Golden Child
03-15-2000, 05:10 AM
I found, that once I proved to myself that I was a capable fighter then sparring became much less competitive and more of a learning tool. In short, as my ego diminished my learning increased. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
JWTaylor you always have some informative posts just curious about what style you train in and where?

03-16-2000, 01:27 AM
Check the profile.
I've been training American Kenpo in Austin, TX for about 18 years now and Chang Style Tai Chi and Elephant Style Kung fu for about 8 months or so.
Both are here in Austin, TX but I travel allot to NYC, Sante Fe NM, and Washington DC if you're in one of those areas.


Golden Child
03-19-2000, 10:02 PM
Osss JWT, I used to train Kenpo under Sifu Steve Kern in San Antonio for a little over a year. I believe (if my memory serves me correctly) his Sifu is Sifu Schmidt. Later, I moved up to Anchorage,Alaska and I'm currently learning the Wu Tang styles (Mantis, Baji, Tai Chi and Bagua). I kinda figured you trained Kenpo when you were referred to your sparring sessions in your previous posts. Peace!

03-27-2000, 01:34 AM
Osss right back at you. Hey it's been a while since I've heard those names. When did you study with Kern? My lineage goes by way of Parker, then Duffy. But Duffy trained under Sifu Swan in San Antonio first so we still see the SA crew allot.
I have noticed that we spar allot harder than most of the other arts around. But I've also noticed that all of the Texas schools are like that. I don't know if you've done any tournaments but the illegal contact rules are not so heavily enforced here like in the more wussilaneous states like CA. I can't see out of my left eye right now as I got a thumb to it on Saturday.
BTW, my dad was a commecial fisher man and I lived in Anchorage myself for a couple of years as a tike. Too young to remember that time but my visits since then have just been great. Beautiful country up there.

Jaguar Wong
03-27-2000, 03:43 AM
sparring is pretty important, because it's almost like a rude awakening for some people. Everyone likes to think that once they reach a certain level, they can no longer be defeated by lower level students. The truth is that anyone can beat anyone else depending on many different circumstances. I have no doubt that JWT can handle himself (anybody that goes to a Dog Brothers Gathering can work through pain /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif). I also have no doubt that Robin could do just as well if she had to defend herself, cause she tangles with some big boys over there. What I'm saying is that if you don't at least know what it's like to have someone (skilled or not) throwing the punches at ya, then it's really going to be a huge shock when it does happen.

I don't really spar that much at my school anymore, becuase all of the rough and tumble guys have left, and all the new people don't want to tangle like we used to do back in the day (only about 2-3 years ago, but it feels like an eternity). I do agree that you don't need to spar for blood, but I don't want to play tag like everyone else, so I just play every once and a while with the older students that are still there. (usualy just some medium contact Chi Sao, but sometimes we spar). I guess I just feel like my stuff jus' don't work anymore, cause I haven't been able to really test it in a long while. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

The tournament scene here in Vegas is pretty sissified. just playin' tag in the sparring divisions, and doing gymnastics in the forms divisions. I'm just now beginning to think that my retirement was a good idea /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Jaguar Wong
www.superaction.com (http://www.superaction.com)

03-27-2000, 07:24 PM

Good to see you back.

I agree with you holeheartedly, that sparring is a good awakening. The first time you take a hit, even a light one, is jarring. If you don't build up some conditioning to it, then you have a disadvantage in a self-defense situation.

Sorry to hear that sparring has lightened up at your school. But, I've found that people start coming around to wanting to spar harder after a while. They just need a little confidence and to understand that in the kwoon, it's all in fun (and training).

03-27-2000, 08:15 PM
Hi Robinf,

I would like to use your words to bemoan a point I waas trying to make in my 'generations' post on the main board.

"They just need a little confidence and to understand that in the kwoon, it's all in fun (and training)."

I realise 'fun' is a very subjective term, but when it gets down to sparring, 'fun' should not be in anyone's mind, otherwise all you are doing is playing. I also realise that 'fun' is why many continue to take martial arts and learning can be fun, but any kind of actual fighting is not fun (for 99% of the population). If your sparring is fun, then I believe you are missing an intregal element of sparring conditioning. For those who do not know what element, then read 'generations' for a better idea.

I believe 'fun' should be moderated in anyone's (adult) training, and restricted even more when it gets down to fighting (sparring) practise. If not, then in my opinion, it is tag.

Obviously it is a good thing that we all share vastly different opinions, as this works itself out by increasing the chance that some where out there, there's a kwoon doing just the sort of thang you're looking for. And I comment on this as an observation and personal practise/belief, not as a judgement on what anyone might or might not be doing.

Next /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Jaguar Wong
03-27-2000, 10:17 PM
Thanks, it's good to be back /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I do agree with what you're saying, but I guess I'm more in the middle road of this mindset. I do agree that you should really take sparring seriously, especially when using it as a learning experience (as opposed to a good workout). I also feel that if you are too serious about it then it can become too competitive and it switches from learning from each other to competing (I do realize that this is not always the case, but it is a very possible outcome).

If you have fun sparring every once and a while, it really helps the body to releax and let some real techniques flow. I guess what I'm saying is that when you're training, and learning with your sparring, you should take it seriously, and treat it like a serious situation, but sometimes you can be a little more relaxed about it, and let the lessons soak in a little differently. I don't know if that makes any sense, but hey, it sounds good in my head /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

BTW Robin, I'll get the sparring back soon. I've been breakin' through the fear of all the new guys, and I'm bringin' the older guys back into it. soon...

Jaguar Wong
www.superaction.com (http://www.superaction.com)

03-27-2000, 10:39 PM
Hey Jag,

Great points and I agree with you. The way I see it, once you pose-off with your opponent/partner, all the fun and games is gone. It's not that I think you can't laugh and have fun, guess it is a segmented thing. I'll often make light of someone's moves or joice of technique and we all laugh. That's fun.

But I make sure the smile is gone prior to re-initializing or continuing with the lesson/practise. But even on top of that, there is a very serious overtone, and in my opinion there has to be!

There are less serious or aggressive sparring exercises that teach softer movement and continuation of movement. Here, concentration would be enough..and it would be a better situation for fun.

But no matter what, I still have to wonder at how useful or 'real' some of the stuff that is practised out there continuously in-kwoon, is? I can only comment on what I have seen or done. And I'll be the first to admit that I prolly hold a bias on this subject because of my system and how we do thangs. I do have strong judgements when it comes to martial arts. I'm sure we all do.

Bring back the raised platform challenge matches, I say! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Golden Child
03-27-2000, 11:56 PM
Jwt, How's it going? I trained under Kern from 97 up until Sep 98. Then I had to move to Anchorage where I was extremely lucky to stumble upon the Wu Tang Lineage. I had a great time at Kern's school and grew I alot. I still have much love for Kenpo and plan to eventually learn more.

As for our sparring sessions, our were as intense as you described. In fact, after visiting quite a few schools in the San Antonio area, I chose that school specifically because it was HARDCORE training/sparring. I think your right about Texas Kenpo it is hardcore. I've walked out of those sessions with bruises more times than I care to count. However, it undoubtedly forced me to grow, whatever technique I used the preceding week wouldn't work the following week. So every week I was experimenting with a different aspect of Kenpo. I guess I better stop rambling but I miss it.

Take Care JWT and if you happen to run into Mr. Kern please tell him that Daniel said hello.

Much Love,

Golden Child
03-28-2000, 12:28 AM
Nospam, I dig what your saying but I kinda get the impression that maybe you took it out of context.

Sparring is fun, but I've never seen anyone smiling or joking while they're catching jabs and hooks with their grill. However, afterwards your happy because you put it on the line.

During sparring my heart is light and happy, I enjoy it but my mind or intent is strong and serious. It is during those sessions that I find peace or sometimes frustration.

Much Love,

03-28-2000, 01:18 AM
You're correct.

I pasted it right out of context /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

03-28-2000, 02:52 AM
you're no fun /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Just joshin'.

To explain about my comment at the end of my post. When I said, it was all in "fun", I meant that students should realize that sparring in class is nothing personal--if you get hit it's not because your opponent has something against you, it's simply because you're sparring. See, that is a huge problem among beginners. They take getting hit personally rather than understanding that if they're getting hit then perhaps they shouldn't be standing there. I teach, and I spend a lot of time cooling people off because they take it so personally that some people actually try to hurt each other. We'd rather not have people walking around with black eyes and broken bones in our school. Just a personal preference.

Sparring is not a game. It is a serious training tool. But, in the defense of fun, try having fun with it sometimes. I have found that fun lends to creativity and experimentation. I never would have gotten my spin side to work without playing a little.

Surrender yourself to nature, and be all that you are.

03-28-2000, 08:58 AM
Luv sparring


Tiny Dragon
04-23-2000, 10:48 AM
Easy there JWTAYLOR! Some of us do live in Cali... http://www.kungfuonline.com/forum/roundtable/mad.gif and train just as hard as 'ya'll'... let's not get regional... it's all up to the masters who judge the tournaments... sometimes it isn't about how hard one hits, but how accurately... that is unless one competes in open tournaments where whoop'n your opponent is the fun and highlight of the day.
Sparring is fun, and very helpful in training...but it is important that a martial artist not forget the training aspect of sparring lest they turn martial arts into a sport (which is sadly what has happened to TKD... and I do practice this art!) /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

04-23-2000, 05:07 PM
People used to - and still do - bounce off my punches and kicks.

The experience of futility in sparring has - and continues - to motivate me to perfect my "illegal hits" (the foundation of kung fu).

A format in which a fully exerted biu jee cannot be exerted is simply a no-win situation for me.

06-08-2000, 01:06 AM
Hi, my name is Stephen.
I have to agree with nospam on this question.
In my experience, sparring class was nothing
more than a place for inflated egos to become
even more inflated, or deflated egos to implode.

Sparring should be a tool for learning, not a
tool to give people a false sense of security.

Here something for all of us to contemplate.
Most of what happens in a lot of sparring classes in accidental. Specifically, when two people match up to spar, what we see is
a lot of clashing that looks akin to a cock fight. whatever blows are landed, are done so by pure accident. How do I know? Ask the practioner to repeat what he or she did, or even tell you what they did. In my experience, they can't do either. Sparring class should be like a laboratory where we
experiement with our techniques to see how they can or cannot be applied. This not only requires physical fighting between students
but an awareness and communication between the participants. each person must be aware of what they are doing while they are doing it. When they are finished each student should explain to the other how they were sucessful.

this also means that every person who spars should have a goal in mind of what they want to practice when sparring. Just like a basketball player goes to practice and uses some of the time to work on their par of a play or a particular shot or maneuver, a karate or kungfu practioner should chose a technique or principle to work on during sparring. One time they may work on evasion, then next jamming, the next time a piece from a form. the bad thing to do is spar for the sake of sparring. your time would be better spent playing tag.

06-13-2000, 07:25 PM
I try and mix up sparring. since it is a training drill and not a cometition, we spar many different ways. Gloves/no gloves, offence/defence, full out, light, grappling, boxing, enviromental, 2-on-1, the whole class against one, knife (magic markers), stick, etc. My teacher calls me the administrator, because I handle school challenges, students with attitudes, etc. When I spar with beginners I basically let them beat on me trying to build their confidence. I might throw slow basics to teach them defense (keep your hands up, dont just stand there) but its always light (on my part) at first.

06-16-2000, 02:08 AM
Me personally I know it sounds sick
but only during sparring I like to get
hit because then it shows me what I'm
doing wrong. To me sparring and trying
to use the techniques at a fast pace
is the only way to go..I mean yes
trying at a slow pace but get in there
and tangle up to see if your technique
is going to work because if you dont
and you get out there on the streets
your probably going to be in alot of trouble.
That is just my opinion....