View Full Version : sparring tactics

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4/24/2003 5:44pm,
i'd like to start a thread about sparring tactics. mostly in relation to 'boxing', upright locking tech, and takedowns. below are a list of priorities or options that i excercise in training matches. some threads recently have been about sparring advice,and methods. so i think it's not a bad idea to put some ideas up for consideration. so if you have some methods that work well, please post. if you have counter strategies for what is posted, give em up!

please no scenarios or postulations. only personal experience.

assuming they are true, some recents posts(boyd) cite examples of 'backyard' style sparring. having done a far amount of this, i appreciate his achievement (and pain!lol). maybe this stuff can help,maybe not. always be careful about what advice you take.

i'll start out with some basic things shortly.


Omega Supreme
4/24/2003 7:57pm,
Boxing sucks. I hate boxing to no end despite the fact that I'll be watching the De La Hoya fight.
I don't like boxing if I haven't made that clear.
I don't like woosies who smell of fear
I like pounding guys until they're dead
I like inverting people's body and dropping them on their head.
I like elbows, I like knees
No 14 oz gloves for me please.
Crank an armar, break a leg
Snap their joints until they beg
10 counts is just a small break
I think boxing is to fake
No black eyes, no 10 pound cup
No boxer would fight me if they know what's up
I've met Vargas, and rung his bell
Give me Royce and Saku and Lidell
So I say this once then I say it Twice
I hate boxing because I'm not nice

Go away I'm talking to myself

The Wastrel
4/24/2003 8:11pm,
No dirty jokes please...

NO. 1 PROBLEM IS PENETRATION!!!! This is the biggest drawbakc of too much light and too little hard sparring. This also leads people to forget how much penetrating strikes are supposed to set up other strikes.

I guess I don't think much about sparring tactics because I don't see it as a place where I'm necessarily supposed to win.

"I'm devastating, looking for some refreshment!"

Courtesy of flubtitles.com

4/24/2003 8:39pm,
omega, i dont mean that type of boxing. i mean striking arts. attacks with fists,open palm,elbow,shoulder,feet,knees, and hips. as well upright locks,controls, and throwing techniques. hence the reference to 'backyard sparring'.

"I guess I don't think much about sparring tactics because I don't see it as a place where I'm necessarily supposed to win."

kind of lost me here, Wastrel.

"NO. 1 PROBLEM IS PENETRATION!!!! This is the biggest drawback of too much light and too little hard sparring. This also leads people to forget how much penetrating strikes are supposed to set up other strikes."

couldn't agree more. the onset of the offense needs to upset balance,set him on the defensive, and be followed up immediately to capitalize on the advantages thus gained. the best defense is a good offense.

it is best never to let the opponent make his own choices. either attack with a penetrating combination to set him on the defensive, or lure him into attacking you with control of distance and presentation of targets. conversely, if you are training with a good fighter and he has an obvious opening, be careful, it is liable to be a set-up.


The Wastrel
4/24/2003 8:45pm,
One thing I've realized as I've come along a little in BJJ is that I learn almost as much from winning as I do from losing. Hmmm. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm trying to learn, not to win. Plus, being a sort of intermediate student of stand-up, I still *have* a lot to learn from sparring. I guess if I'd come further along, I would think of it differently. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to synthesize my striking background with the high-payoff tactics of grappling.

"I'm devastating, looking for some refreshment!"

Courtesy of flubtitles.com

Edited by - The Wastrel on April 24 2003 20:47:47

4/24/2003 9:19pm,
Tonight was my first night back at Karate, and when my sensei saw what had happened to me (of all fucking nights to do forearm conditioning...), he began talking about sparring tactics. One of the things he really advocated was just punching in response to ANYTHING. His philosophy in fighting is that if you can hit him, he can hit you. However, the converse in not true.

In class, we do a lot of distance work. I think the most interesting stuff we cover in class deals with simple movements that result in a massive difference. I STILL don't get most of it, so don't even ask me to explain any of it to you. All I know is that when he turns his foot a certain way, he can punch about three inches farther, and the only target his opponent has is the arm itself. Better hope he can block.

Since I'm in a karate class, most of the emphasis is on the whole "I hit him and then he hits the floor" mentality. A lot of emphasis is placed on the straightforward punch. If a guy punches straight at you, just drop your hips, rotate away a little bit, and let him run into your fist. It doesn't matter what hand he fires, either. We're taught that if you punch with the same hand your opponent does (i.e. left hand-left hand), you can just "ride" his arm and pop him in the jaw.

Fluidity is also important, though, since karate has tons of moves. In Isshin-Ryu, we have eight "official" katas, each one containing about 40-60 moves. Each of those moves will have, on average, 7+ applications. I'm not a doctor, but that's a shitload of techniques. If you can't transition seamlessly between them, you're screwed.

Now, style and all that aside, I use the Homer Simpson fighting strategy. I let my opponent beat on me until they're so exhausted, I can just push them over, or at least call a draw. Think I'm joking? I actually won a fight by taking a beating for about 30 minutes, leaving my opponent heaving to the point at which I WAS SCARED FOR HIM. Stamina, obviously, is my strong point. Offense, decisiveness, and committment...

They don't call it the Nazi PARTY for nothing!

Edited by - boyd on April 24 2003 21:22:41

Omega Supreme
4/24/2003 10:02pm,
Yeah, but it was such a cool poem.

Go away I'm talking to myself

Fisting Kittens
4/24/2003 10:15pm,
My attitude about sparring is to get to a clinch as fast as possible. Only recently have I begun gaining mass, and for most of my life I've been a skinny ****. fighting at range blows if you aren't that big. You can be winning all day long but one big punch and out you go. So like Wastrel I'm all about penetration. I strike hard from whatever range I'm in, but follow each strike in to my opponent. By the end of a combo I should be in range to clinch. I own clinches. I can destroy with knees, but I'd rather score a big throw (which is easier than controlling the clinch long enough to hit with some hard knees) at that point its fast and hard groundwork until submission. I like to play very aggressive and end the match as quickly as possible. Playing around is no good if you are outweighed.

*** Note: In the past 2 years I've put on 60+ pounds and now I'm not so small anymore. At 6'1 and 191 lbs. This strategy works even better for me. Its much harder for an opponent to stop-hit me, and I have the strength to control almost any range.

4/25/2003 12:00am,
"Hmmm. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm trying to learn, not to win."

if you keep up with that attitude, you are going to be a very good martial artist. that type of thinking opens the gate to new avenues of performance. for me it was the turning point in my training, because i finally understood what proper 'yielding' was. dropping the fixation with winning allows you to relax considerably, this in turn lets you focus on the moment. successful techniques in this frame of mind always seem 'effortless'. with an 'empty mind' your reading skills increase, and the ability to time your actions also improves. you might lose ALOT for a while, but in the long run it is well worth it.

i am a student, and an instructor. i have not encountered very many martial artists who have cultivated that mentality. imho that is why they sucked. they couldn't get past an immediate gain mentality and therefore couldn't grasp certain 'advanced' principles. in particular the methods of reversal or countering within the rhthym of the enemy's attack, or transitional flow in attack patterns to deal with defensive responses.


4/25/2003 12:25am,
As far as Iím concerned sparring is just controlled fighting, the same techniques and principles all still apply. The only time there should be specific ďsparringĒ strategies is when rules are put into place that change the fighting dynamic. In any type of sparring you still have to try to control the distance between you and your opponent as well as the timing of when things are going to occur. The two biggest mistakes I see people do when sparring are as follows:

1: They are standing within striking range and not striking. If you are close enough to hit someone you should be hitting him. Just standing there like a sitting duck is a recipe for disaster. Even if we are going striking only, I am very cognoscente of the fact that the guy Iím fight only has to take two step before he can tie me up and throw me down.

2: They fight like they are on rails. For someone reason people like to go forward and the like to go backward, but the never seem to move off at an angle. On the offensive side, off angling presents you with a whole new set of open targets. Defensively, if you donít get off the line of a committed action, it will eventually catch up to you and mow you down.

In my mind the only reason to spar is to learn and improve; winning and losing doesnít even factor in for me. Whether my partner is more or less skilled then me, I try to have set goals in my mind every time I step onto the mat. It might be Iím going to work on primarily kicking, tying up in a clinch, off angling to the guys back side, counter punching, whatever. I donít care if having a singular goal for the next three minutes makes me one dimensional and gives the yellow belt Iím sparring a chance to feel better about himself because be was able to dish out some licks on an advanced student.

4/25/2003 12:29am,
boyd, the rope a dope is not the most intelligent strategy, but if it works in a pinch, who i am to judge.

your instructors philosophy of counter punching is pretty much the same as my style's theory.

some punch intercepts:

evade 45 degrees forward and counter punch- use a slap on the wrist to deflect his strike and hit as he comes forward. great counter for a face punch, hit his ribs on the side of the punch. catch him as he comes forward, this makes it a heavy blow. a knuckle to ribs tickles a little.

vs a haymaker or hook punch- pivot and thrust directly out to his face. cut off his circular attack with a quick linear strike. turn at the waist until your punching arm's shoulder is pointed at him, this extends your reach. the hip pivot gives power. this is a stationary defense(offense?).

crossing fist- pivot and strike over his arm to the head. your arm can supress and deflect his arm as you strike. takes a little practice to get the angle and timing. cut across his punch line at an angle directly for his face as he punches. hit him before he fully extends his punch. dont let his front foot settle. cut him on the half beat in the middle of his action. very disruptive if done properly. this is best vs. linear attacks, your waist pivot changes the centerline orientation, and provides the countering action.

these strikes all require good timing. he gets hit as he strikes. this brings his force into play, and augments your impact.

these forward aggressive movements are meant to destroy his attack, impair his balance, throw him on the defensive, and set-up finishing opportunities.

fisting kittens, closing the gap and downing the opponent is probably the most sound strategy all around. the purpose in kuntaosilat is to take the enemy down in one 'blitz' from long range to the ground. we have our own version of 'ground and pound'. the need to exert various controls on the enemy as swiftly as possible is stressed. you could be reversed at any moment, or if you give him a second chance, you could very well lose.


4/25/2003 12:56am,
"As far as Iím concerned sparring is just controlled fighting, the same techniques and principles all still apply."

no doubt. sparring is the primary testing ground of functionalization. the control is essential to stimulate the capacity for learning. after enough practice the move will become second nature. one of my instructors used to say, "speed comes on its own." he was telling me to relax and develop the technique instead of just trying to force it. you will be fast and effective with things that you know well.

"1: They are standing within striking range and not striking."

one of two possibilities here. they are both deadly masters, coiled like snakes, with perfect defenses. when one breaks the meditative trance, and errs in his breathing rhythym, the other will strike, killing his foe instantly.

or their SCARED, and trying to devise strategies that minimize their personal risk, lol.

if you see fear or hesitation from your opponent, you must press him immediately.

"2: They fight like they are on rails. "

i hear ya. this is a big one. any body who only moves back and forth really needs to expand their repetoire a bit. direct backward movement is prohibited in many schools. bad strategy. they are definately missing out on a major 'key' of fighting principles.


4/25/2003 1:55am,
how about these?

generally strive to keep an oblique or sideways stance. reduce your surface area by facing off on an angle.

periphereal vision. dont leave home without it. your perceptive and reaction speed will be superior if you use periphereal vision.

dont stand in attack range and do nothing. at close range the advantage goes to the one who attacks first. hand defenses in particular increase in difficulty the closer the opponent gets.

as soon as he is in kicking range, you must attack or reposition. learn how to kick his legs as he steps to interrupt his motions. quick, hard front kicks to the thighs work well. after one or two kicks ,he will adjust his strategy to compensate. he will either charge, kick back, or try to catch your kicks to throw you. be ready with hand strike backups to stop a charge. kick below the hips to avoid catch techniques. if he kicks back, it becomes a counter timing game. try to hit his standing leg or groin as he kicks.

when he gets caught up in the leg game. punch him.


4/25/2003 3:46am,
Dealing with Guard Positions

most fighters tend to keep both hands in front of their body and on the centerline between them and the opponent. if their guard is open(not on the centerline) they are either inexperienced or are trying to lure you into attacking the open zone that they have presented, for which they have a counter prepared.

direct, single attacks into a centerline are not liable to work. even some one with minimal experience can easily deflect a singular attack and counter.

you need to remove their guard from the centerline, to pave the way for your attack.

following are some options for dealing with guard postures. appropriate distance is necessary for any given tactic.

pull down the wrist and kick- simple tech that works well on motionless opponents who are slow to act. pull down on the wrist and stretch the arm out away from the body. kick to the legs, ribcage, underside of upper arm, or even the face. he may lose his balance and fall forward as a result of the 'snatch', time your kick to hit him as he comes forward. it is important to keep the elbow of the arm that you have grabbed away from his ribs, this assures the opening, and prevents him from dropping that elbow on your instep or ankle in defense. try this from medium range, especially against an overly extended high guard arm.

another little trick i like works well on the 'kung fu' open hand guard. their fingers stick up and are easy to grab and bend backwards. this works very well on the type of guard in which their palm faces you. move straight in a grab their fingers, then push them back and down towards their centerline.

as an aside, the palm out guard is not to be used at. it is actually a striking position, not a guard posture. this is because it is already 'expended'. the hand can only move back to body from here. not a good way to start.

low/high change- classic fundamental tactics. attack low with a kick and if he responds by dropping his hands to block, hit him in rhythym with a punch. sometimes a couple of fierce low kicks are needed to harass, which causes his focus to shift to the low line. at that point, change the attack to a high one. this basic method of misdirection is done in many ways. another example is a 'floating roundhouse'. the kick starts as a low attack, directed towards the side of the knee. upon contact, the hip is turned over quickly,and the kick 'bounces' up to the head. the best scenario you can get with this is causing him to reach down with his hands to block or catch your kick. his head will come down as you kick 'floats' up. it is not a double kick, rather an extended motion of the hip, the first part of which is a feint.


4/26/2003 3:50am,
then reload

4/30/2003 10:04am,
One person was speaking about attacking from angles, we call this "zoning out" another important concept is to hit different lines of attack. Try this combo: Jab, Cross, Circle Hook (circle your rear leg around while throwing a lead hook, this will put you perpendicular to your opponent) Shovel Hook to body, high hook to head finish with a rear leg shin kick to the thigh