Notes on Sparring

June 30, 2011

I’ve been trying to incorporate elements of tricks and forms into sparring. What better place to practice the practical application of the art? Practicing tricks with a semi-docile partner is one thing, it’s how we learn the trick and build on its application. Applying the trick to an active opponent seems like another thing entirely, but I don’t feel that it should be. In a fight, an attacker will not be a semi-docile dummy who throws a single strike then stands idly by, waiting to get pummelled.  They’ll likely be throwing multiple attacks and defending themselves with whatever they can. Applying tricks into sparring is an opportunity to work on them against an active opponent who doesn’t necessarily know what’s coming.

The monkey wrench is that Kajukenbo tricks often require hard strikes that enable us to position the opponent in such a way as to complete the trick, and I can’t see that happening in sparring. For example, the first strike in trick #1 involves a hard, fast kick to the groin that ideally forces your opponent to bend forward, setting you up for the vertical punch to the face. If your opponent is not bent over, that next strike is impractical or impossible to reach. In a sparring environment, it doesn’t seem safe or practical to kick your sparring partner hard enough to achieve the desired effect. So, monkey wrench.

As far as hard contact goes, we certainly do get rocked from time to time. Last night, I took a good shot to the chin, a nice little shot to the eye that left me with a raspberry, and I gained a nice lump on my shin somewhere along the line. It’s not as if hard contact is prohibited or even discouraged. The unspoken Golden Rule is, “I’ll only hit you as hard as you hit me,” and after a short time we come to learn who is comfortable banging it up and who is not. Those of us who are OK with that contact tend to seek each other out on the mat when we can, and I don’t mind taking my lumps at all. I see it as a vital part of training. I think someone told me  once that the best incentive to learn how to avoid getting hit is to get hit. Also, if you’ve never really been rocked in a safe environment, such as on the mat, how will you handle it when it happens on the street? Martial arts without real contact seems somewhat contradictory to me. That being said, nobody in our school wants to send anybody home injured, just as nobody wants to go home with an injury. What I’m saying is, we have contact, but we also have control.

Side note: I almost got choked out last night, for the first time. In the middle of sparring during last night’s two-hour class, Sifu shouts “GRAPPLE!” and it was on. My partner had a good headlock almost sunk in on me, but I held my chin down and avoided it – barely. That’s as close as I want to get to that. I’ll be paying attention to not let it happen again!


One Response to “Notes on Sparring”

  1. Nick said

    When in a real fight you look for the proper opening to do a self defense. Take club sparring you dont just jump in on the attackers first swing you want them to over commit to a swing. Thats when you one you want to use a self defense. You have to create the opening your self, make him swing. In the process of moving around I have had people trip and fall all by themselves. If this happen you need to be able to react as quit as possible you might not get another.

    Self defenses are there to teach you concepts and theory.

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