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Being Good at Sparring Means Only that You’re Good at Sparring

AsiaOne News articling a disastrous Taekwondo sparring match

AsiaOne News articling a disastrous Taekwondo sparring match

That title basically sums up my confusion when, as a young Taekwondo black belt, one of my instructors told me that all my focus on being good at sparring wasn’t the be all and end all of martial arts. What does that mean? Doesn’t sparring show how tough you are? Isn’t a fearsome array of long range kicks what it’s all supposed to be? Sadly, no. After so many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that sparring amounts to little more than just prancing around.

So when I saw this link about a student competitor getting kicked in the neck and sustaining brain injury, I had to share my thoughts about control and thoughts about the objective of sparring. Sparring helps distancing, technique combinations, and timing against a dynamic opponent. There is an upper limit to what you get out of this particular exercise – and certainly it should be conducted in a safe and nurturing environment.

I think wise and creative instructors also ‘program’ the kind of sparring that practitioners are exposed to. Meaning, to pressure test the student, the instructor could change the challenge each student faces. Tie one hand behind the back. Face multiple persons and find the exit. Lie on the floor and fight your way up. Stop punching – use only open hand techniques. These are some great ways to improve sparring and mental agility. On the other hand just standing there and beating the other ‘under eighteen’ competitor with thin gloves and non-existent cover … are poor ways to improve mental agility.

Before you go, fill out my poll Identify that McDojo and make sure everyone knows what places to avoid!

Be safe, my friends … from bad people and from yourselves.

 

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