Sparring is oftentimes misunderstood, even by those practicing the martial arts for several years, but before I get into what it is, here is what sparring is not;
- Not a fight
- Not a contest
- Not a chance to impress others or show off
- Not a chance to hurt others
So what is sparring?
Sparring allows two individuals to exchange lessons and test what they know in a controlled environment. If you’re sparring in your standardized class, sparring is a mutual test of abilities learned in the class. In this aspect, there is no winner or loser and no competition, only two fellow students trying to figure out ways to use what they’ve learned.
When sparring to share knowledge with another, again there are no winners or losers, no competitions, only two individuals attempting to share lessons they’ve learned in a non-static environment.
In both cases, if you’re focused solely on winning, you miss the lessons that sparring affords. If you are swinging for the fences, not only do you miss the lessons, but you also stand a real good chance of losing a sparring partner. Sparring is controlled, as in power and speed are controlled, so that both parties can attack, counter, block, and parry and train their techniques against a living, moving individual, while neither are getting physically injured.
A good sparring partner is invaluable and hurting them in sparring, takes them out of the equation and hurts your training, as much as it hurts them. The keys to getting the most out of a sparring session are;
- Mutual respect
- A mutual understanding that it’s a learning tool and not a competition (no winners or losers).
- Mutual understanding of the rules, grappling? head strikes? etc….
- Mutually shake hands or bow before beginning and at the end of your sparring session.
Good sparring sessions improve skills and the physical application of learned techniques and lessons.