Is sparring necessary?
I'm asking this question because I am kind of on the fence on sparring's necessity right now and would like some other opinions.
When I first started out it was in TKD and we did sparring almost every night, but it was that flippy kicky crap that now in retrospect I would not even consider sparring.
About a year into TKD I started crosstraining with a pro boxer who also did some Kickboxing. We sparred about 4 to 5 times every week full contact using headgear about 50% of the time. Since most of my opponents at that time had several inches of height on me and anywhere from 20-40 lbs. in weight I basically got beat stupid 4 nights a week (I developed a noticeable stutter when I talked about 9 months after the sparring started that's when I got out)
After that came JKD where they sparred once a week but not mandatory so I went sometimes. Then my overseas adventures started.
So from 99'-03 I lived in Korea and went back to TKD, which was the same sparring from when I started training. I also crosstrained Judo, sparred at least twice a week, and BJJ sparred every night.
With Judo and BJJ I believe you have to spar to improve, there is no way around it. So here is why I am a little confused. My last year in Korea I dropped TKD and started training at a Muay Thai gym. They had an excellent Korean coach as well as a coach that they hired from Thailand. They had fighters that were on par with every other gym in the country. The first thing that I noticed was that they didn't spar. I mean in an entire year that I spent there I never saw anyone spar. I even asked the coach about it and he said," No you don't spar with your fellow schoolmates, they are like your family" Don't spar? The last kickboxing "family" I had used to beat me into oblivion 4 night a week. Don't spar? That seemed ridiculous. They did a lot of pad work and bag work and conditioning, but they didn't spar. How could they be sucessful without sparring?
A perfect example is one student who came in and trained about 4 times a week. Pad work, bag work, conditioning but no sparring. He decided he was going to enter a MT competition that was set up like K-1. If you win your fight you go to the next round. At most he would fight 3 fights in one night. Not only had this guy never sparred, but he had never even fought an amateur or pro fight. He made it all the way to finals, beating out two fighters that had winning pro records and lost in a split decision in the final.
Was he just an anomaly? Is hard contact sparring not necessary at all for some people? Was something different in the way they trained that made sparring unnecessary? Opinions please.
Someone else said it first I don't remember who so I will para-phrase
"Trying to learm to fight without sparring is like trying to learn to swim without getting in the water."
I get what you mean but I can't believe a person could be good at fighting, without sparring others. Like being able to know how to hit different ways and against a "live" opponent. And on the stutter note, there are two people in my gym that have stuttering issues, but not too sure if it was an onset from MT.
I believe my stuttering issue developed over many months of full contact, sometimes with no headgear, it did go away after I took a couple of months off from full contact and I haven't had the problem since.
A single anecdote doesn't prove anything. Evan Tanner learned how to grapple from watching videotape. That doesn't make video the the best, or even a good method for learning things. What it means is Evan Tanner is a gifted individual.
99% of the people on the planet are not Evan Tanner.
sparring =/= good fighter, just like good training =/= good fighter. There are people that never train a day in their life but are just naturally good at slugging it out and there are people that can train for years with the best trainers in the world and never win a fight.
The thing is, that person with natural ability is going to be even better after having that same great training.
Personally, I didn't know jack **** about what I was doing before I ever sparred. I had no idea how tiring it was, no concept of timing and distance, tactics etc. As I've progressed technically, I've spent less and less time doing drills and more time sparring and I've only progressed faster because of it.
Last edited by Torakaka; 2/24/2006 11:07pm at .
At the dojo I was talking to one of our black belts about that "swimmer" metaphor. We fleshed it out a bit
So with swimming there are 3 levels (I am taking this out the of the lifeguard certs). Pool, Lake, and Ocean.
A Martial Artist that doesn't spar because it not real (rules and all) is like a swimmer that won't swim in a pool because its not the ocean. However, if thrown into the ocean (aka real fight) they think they will do the same arm strokes on land (kata) and everything will be fine.
However, how does one learn to swim (fight). Throw them in the shallow end of the pool and show them how to do a few basic strokes (light randori, point sparring). Eventually they would get more strokes (techniques) and become stronger at it. Eventually they will reach the deep end and swim nicely (full contact kickboxing or Judo/Jujutsu Randori).
The next step up would be added unknowns of the lake, like wildlife, plant life, etc. This would be an MMA/NHB/Vale Tudo Tourament. Not everyone will get here, or need to get here. However, it the best practice, short getting thrown in the Ocean (street fight).
So if one thinks that paddling on land(no sparring/kata) will get them ready for the ocean(street fight) . They will drown.
Exactly. You can train yourself to have a perfect hook and a perfect round kick, but you won't know WHEN to use it. You have to spar to know that.
Originally Posted by Kidspatula
I heard a nice bit of advice about writing. To paraphrase, unless you are a natural-born genius (which YOU are *not*), you will write thousands upon thousands of pages before you can even start to become a decent author. The same idea applies to MA, and regardless of who you are and whether you "need" it, you WILL learn a tremendous amount from sparring.
But something that seems to be easily overlooked: before you can practice writing, you need to know how to spell.
Sparring is essential; sparring with a variety of martial artists and in particular, ones that are more skilled than you.
I was in the beginner's class and had learned the basics of sparring, I had good control and I was always picked to spar with newer students. After about seven months of sparring, I reached a plateau, I just wasn't getting any better.
I spoke to my teacher and expressed my concern; he moved me to an advanced class and I started sparring with people who were much better than I. That was the turning point in my training; I actually started to notice improvement in my techniques and footwork.
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