Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Free Sparring

I think that every tool has it's use. There are places for one step, three step and free sparring. There is a place for sports competition. None of this is actual combat, but there are lessons to be learned and skills to be honed.

Dan Djurdjevic at The Way of Least Resistance had a post on the role of free sparring in martial arts. Below is an excerpt. The whole post may be read here.

 The role of free sparring

Here is a post by reknowned internal martial artist and researcher, and BJJ practitioner and practitioner, Tim Cartmell on his discussion board from a decade ago.  It concerns the role of free sparring in the development of martial skill. I think it deserves reposting, so I'm setting it out here (and hope Tim doesn't mind me doing so!):

    This is a very interesting topic, the sparring vs. too deadly to spar dichotomy. My students also get into this discussion with practitioners of other arts that believe they are too lethal to spar.

    I suppose their is no 'answer' short of no holds barred death matches, but it is important to look at the evidence we do have so that students can make an informed decision, especially students that want to prepare themselves for a real and violent confrontation.

    I'll preface my comments by saying I have trained all different ways. I've studied traditional styles of martial arts in which all techniques were supposed to be potentially lethal, and which forbade sparring, as well as traditional arts which allowed contact sparring. I've also practiced several combat 'sports.'

    One of the most, if not the most important aspect of success in a fight is mindset, next is experience, then physicality, finally specific technique. Without the will to fight, the greatest fighter in the world will lose to the most mediocre fighter. This is a common sense observation. It is extremely difficult (although probably not impossible) to develop a fighting mindset without some experience approximating a real fight. Like the boxers say, everyone has a plan until they get hit. If you have never been hit hard, crushed under someone's weight or been on the receiving end of a painful and unrelenting attack, how do you know how you will react? You may imagine you will respond appropriately and fight back, but you will never know for sure. Sparring will never be as intense as a real fight, but it is the closest approximation you will find within the bounds of relative safety (although you will be injured on occasion, it's an inevitability of learning to fight). 


Paul said...

I believe general dojo sparring should be considered as sport. If for "students that want to prepare themselves for a real and violent confrontation", chances are that these students already have previous real-life experience in fighting (e.g. working as bouncer or living in a rougher area of town), and with the right mental attitude. These students should be trained with sparring techniques specifically with those real-life situations in mind, rather than "general sparring". I agree with the author that mental attitude (in particular the aptitude of instantaneous figuring out the best fight/flight option when one is in situations of being over-powered, which as the author said has to be tested in real life)

Rick Matz said...

For the past several months, I've been working out at an MMA gym.

I've found that I can hit pretty hard and I can take a punch, but my reaction time is no match for guys half my age (or less!). My flexibility is far less than my opponents as well.

I've come around to focusing on BJJ at the gym. It's less wear and tear on my body than the kick boxing (I had constantly sore legs) and being up tight and close with my opponent mitigated many of my disadvantages.