Wednesday, March 4, 2015

sparring


I was fortunate to have trained in a variety of martial art styles. I like to divide martial art styles into three major categories, Traditional, Tactical, and Sport. And I've been able to train in styles from all three of these categories. I did this because I feel that the styles found in each one of these categories could help me get a more complete picture. Regardless of what style I trained in, I always realized the value of sparring. I feel that if your serious about combat then you need to have enough sparring experience. I also felt that I had an advantage over some people because not only did I have sparring experience, but I also had experience sparring against practitioners from various styles. Typically a Judo person only trains and competes against another Judo person, same with Boxers going up against other Boxers, Karate Vs Karate, and Wrestling Vs Wrestling. I think most people will agree that sparring is necessary to become effective. However it's funny that the same people who say sparring is important will also say that combat sport is not realistic because it's a sport. To me sport competition is nothing more than sparring cranked up to the extreme. It's more intense, more competitive, more difficult, and more on the line than regular sparring. My logic is simple, since they are the same creature, if sparring is beneficial then so is sport competition. On the flip side I've had students tell me they want to spar full contact in my class. I ask them why and they say because it's how you get good. I tell them it's how you get hurt. While sparring is important, people tend to focus too much on the winning and on the success rather than on the learning. It can inflate your ego. It's also very easy to end up sparring against those that you know are weaker than you which will only further increase your illusions of grandeur. A few of my students wanted to spar so that they could test out their techniques and skills. And once again the testing becomes more important than the learning. Students want confirmation that they are getting better, but confidence should come from how much work they put in not from passing a test or some measurement of who they can beat. Often times in Tactical martial arts, practitioners will wear safety gear and go all out in the name of realism. Often times I think they don't put in enough time training their skills, but instead they focus on the testing. So even if they pass their test their technique is severely lacking. The instructor will often times give the wrong impression by saying that in real life technique is ugly. Real life is difficult and chaotic, it can easily reduce your skill, but you should still sharpen your technique as much as you can. Don't say that real life is ugly as an excuse to be sloppy. When you do hone your skills, you need to isolate the technique and train it in a fixed pattern. It becomes very unrealistic, but it doesn't matter, because your working on skill development. The things that make it realistic will hinder your skill development that is why we separate skill development from realistic training. You definitely need to practice both, but if you combine the two you might get confused and not get the most out of training. Plus, contrary to popular belief you cannot develop as much skill while sparring full contact. Bruce Lee said something like, if you want to run fast, you need to run. So if you want to be able to fight, then you need to spar full contact. What people forget is that Bruce Lee did sticky hands drills, he also did forms, he also engaged in technique practice, and striking bags. He was an animal for training according to Chuck Norris. What I'm trying to say is that Bruce Lee did both, he didn't just spar. Fight Application When using martial arts in a real fight, the first step is to have a plan, any plan, from any style, and you should be one step ahead of your opponent who at this point let's just say is a brawler, he just has to make up stuff on the fly, and that is a tall order in an intense extreme circumstance. Level 2 is to use the details from the plan against your opponent. Slip their right cross, and counter with a left hook to the body and right cross to the chin. Your setting them up because your know that their right cross is not crisp, that they over extend it and they are a little slow to bringing it back. Even if your opponent has a plan too, you can defeat them if they are not as thorough as precise, you can find holes in their game plan and exploit these weaknesses. Level 3 is to see the big picture and use it against them, so if your facing a guy who is using level 2 details against you, then even though you may not know the exact details of what they are looking at, you know that they are setting you up, and you can counter that with something they aren't going to be able to see because they are too focused on the small things. They get so lost in their own world that they can't possibly keep up with every detail, they forget to see the big picture. Level 4 is a guy who can change games plans in the middle of a fight. Fedor Emelianenko was one of the few fighters I've ever seen do this so well at such a high level. Being able to use multiple plans adapting to your opponent making them have to keep up with you is so rough on them. It's like living in a harsh environment where it changes from one extreme weather to the next. Extreme heat, ice cold blizzard, hurricane, tornado, etc. I don't know what Level 5 is, and it's interesting to think about it. But it's also interesting to apply this to domestic fights. People get into fights all the time with their girl friend or family members. When you do, can you apply the above tactics? Because ultimately your loved one is not the right person you should be fighting with, there has been some sort of miscommunication and fighting is a loss for both of you.

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