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yanta
4/16/2007 12:44am,
So, I need some advice from the Bullshido community. This post will be long, for which I apologize in advance.

Background first. I've been studying Taiji for a bit over a year at the Jing Institute for Chinese Martial Arts and Culture (http://www.jinginstitute.com (http://www.jinginstitute.com/)). Yes, yes, I know it's a goofy wushu school that leases space to a Bujinkan dojo and some wing chun guys. It's also the nicest studio around, has a great big lovely mat space, and boasts one of the best organized Taiji programs I could find. No, I don't think I'm learning teh deadly. If your only comment is "that wushu school is ghey" then go find another thread to **** up.

I also do Aikido (yes, I know, another point of wussiness, I don't care if you think Aikido is ghey either), fight SCA occasionally (medieval full-contact re-enactment), and (thanks to the good advice from other Bullshidoka) I attend kickboxing and BJJ classes at North County Fight Club (http://www.ncfightclub.com (http://www.ncfightclub.com/)) whenever I'm in town long enough. The instructors at Jing know all this. The program manager at Jing has begun what he is calling a "san shou" class, on a rotating schedule, where people get together, put on headgear/booties/gloves, and do point sparring.

Here's the deal. They have invited me to join them, with no additional tuition, even though the only thing I do at the school is Taiji. Now, please understand -- I'm not all that tough. I'm a 5'3" thirty-something 140-lb woman. But because I'm a US Marine and I come to class with bruises occasionally, they all have this grand image of me as some kind of deadly chick fighter. It's bunk. I'm a crappy kickboxer who gets her ass royally handed to her on a regular basis (when I can make it to class at all) and my ground game is only slightly better than "complete suck" if the guy is close to my size and feels like being nice.

But. I have a lot of respect for the instructor who is teaching the san shou classes, and he tried hard to talk me into coming. Several of the students, with whom I am friends, have asked me "when I'm going to grace them" with my presence. There's really only been one or two girls (high-school age) who I have seen be brave enough to attend the sparring classes and one of them practically begged me to come out sometime. Not to say that I'd be any kind of super female martial arts role model or anything, but if I were to just get out there it might encourage some of the other girls to think they might be able to come out too, and I think that would not be a bad thing (since it's likely that none of them is ever going to go find a real MA school).

I spent some time watching a class. It looked to be a lot of random flailing, point sparring, lots of "watch your power" and the instructor interrupting the fights every ten seconds. No kicks below the waist, no elbows, no knees, head shots frowned on, only sweep takedowns allowed "for now" but the instructor says he hopes to work up to full-on shoots and takedowns.

I've never done point sparring in my life and I'm afraid that a) I'll kick someone too hard or in the wrong target area because I'm still too new at fighting to have any control or b) I'll sabotage my own Muay Thai-style kickboxing training by learning tippy-tap techniques. If I do train with them, I a) have the chance to learn timing and fight presence and b) hey, it's sparring outside of my comfort zone, any alive training is good training, right?

My questions for the experts at Bullshido, especially those who have done point sparring in any form:

1. I don't know **** about CMA beyond the communist-era Taiji I've been studying. Will attending a CMA-style point sparring class without any CMA background be a problem? I don't care about getting beat up or defeated -- I'd be there to learn, and from what I saw nobody is going to hit me half as hard as the dudes at NCFC. I am a little worried about learning bad technique or bad habits doing point sparring. Is there a way to avoid that?

2. Am I going to run into power/control problems? Am I going to piss them off by pulling a Muay Thai kick out of muscle memory if some big guy presses me too hard? Again, I'm NOT saying that I'm going to whup up on anyone -- what would probably happen is I'd end up in the middle of the pack, neither better nor worse than anyone else. But I don't want to piss off a training partner by not being able to stay in the box.

3. What do you think about the whole situation? I'm NOT an experienced martial artist and I'm curious what people who do have more experience have to say about this. What I really want to hear are comments pro and con about crappy point sparring vs. encouraging LARPers to spar at all.

This is a new thing for this school. They've been a wushu forms group for years and years, but I think the san shou instructor is trying to bring a sense of reality and aliveness to all his pretty gymnasts, and I have to applaud that. I just don't know for sure if the significant adjustment to my schedule that attending these classes would require would be worth it.

Intelligent comments welcome. Idiotic trolls are respectfully requested to go **** themselves and die.

~yanta

jnp
4/16/2007 1:01am,
Go spar.

Semper fi.

edit: It sounds as if you might be able to help the people in your San Shou class.

Permalost
4/16/2007 1:31am,
I actually spar with a guy from the other wushu school in the area (Golden Dragon). He's actually a very good if sometimes weak/showy kicker- the kind that would be very good at point sparring. Seeing as how you're in the Mira Mesa area from time to time, you might like to come by and spar with the group sometime at the Mira Mesa rec center (there's kind of a mixed bag of participants and its usually not real hard, but its fun sometimes).

I'm in the first two clips giving the ground and pound and the RNC.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS1WiA8Lp-M
Here's me sparring two new guys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM2cAHKpaOI

Wounded Ronin
4/16/2007 1:41am,
Good to hear from you, yanta. My first serious martial arts instructor back when I was a teenager was a Marine who was active back in the 70s. Anyway, I will answer your questions as best I can.



Here's the deal. They have invited me to join them, with no additional tuition, even though the only thing I do at the school is Taiji. Now, please understand -- I'm not all that tough. I'm a 5'3" thirty-something 140-lb woman. But because I'm a US Marine and I come to class with bruises occasionally, they all have this grand image of me as some kind of deadly chick fighter. It's bunk. I'm a crappy kickboxer who gets her ass royally handed to her on a regular basis (when I can make it to class at all) and my ground game is only slightly better than "complete suck" if the guy is close to my size and feels like being nice.


Isn't it funny how people tend to romanticize?



I've never done point sparring in my life and I'm afraid that a) I'll kick someone too hard or in the wrong target area because I'm still too new at fighting to have any control or b) I'll sabotage my own Muay Thai-style kickboxing training by learning tippy-tap techniques. If I do train with them, I a) have the chance to learn timing and fight presence and b) hey, it's sparring outside of my comfort zone, any alive training is good training, right?


Point A-1 is always a concern. However, I don't really see a way around it. You've got to start somewhere and you're not going to gain expert control in sparring without sparring a lot. My recommendation is that everybody wears a cup and mouthguard when sparring. That way even if you wildly groin kick someone by accident he's got a degree of protection.

Point B-1 is also another concern. I think that if you do both full contact and point this threat could be mitigated somewhat. However, if you end up doing mostly or only point then yes, you might start to build muscle memory which is bad for actual fighting.

Point A-2 is sort of valid. Yes, you could get decent timing in terms of the first hit. However, it's not really good to neglect follow up. Certainly, if it devolves into no-contact or stop-short it would be purely negative. I've seen people try to spar with contact after doing no-contact sparring for a long time and all the techniques they throw always miss by the same precise distance.

About point B-2: yes, going outside your comfort zone is good. As long as we're talking about point sparring I'd say that the concern is not to end up just stagnating at that level instead of continuing beyond after you feel you are comfortable with sparring.



1. I don't know **** about CMA beyond the communist-era Taiji I've been studying. Will attending a CMA-style point sparring class without any CMA background be a problem? I don't care about getting beat up or defeated -- I'd be there to learn, and from what I saw nobody is going to hit me half as hard as the dudes at NCFC. I am a little worried about learning bad technique or bad habits doing point sparring. Is there a way to avoid that?


Probably not. I used to take shaolin kungfu lessons that had rare and limited sparring and if anything it was helpful to have a broader background than just CMA that was being taught; I don't think it would be such a big deal either way because in most cases the other students who would be new to sparring in such a situation would not be able to attack you in a way requiring any sort of specialized or specific response.

Might you learn bad habits, especially if your sparring partners are all essentially sucky newbies who are afraid to be hit? Yes, that's a very real possibility.



2. Am I going to run into power/control problems? Am I going to piss them off by pulling a Muay Thai kick out of muscle memory if some big guy presses me too hard? Again, I'm NOT saying that I'm going to whup up on anyone -- what would probably happen is I'd end up in the middle of the pack, neither better nor worse than anyone else. But I don't want to piss off a training partner by not being able to stay in the box.


You might, and that's part of learning. As a newbie I don't think anyone can reasonably expect you to have flawless control, though. If somebody is going to get seriously teed off because you hit them a little harder than they're used to by accident I don't think they're really cut out for real MA in the first place. Since there's no way you can improve on this count except by practice I say just go for it and apologize to your partner later if you make him or her feel uncomfortable.




3. What do you think about the whole situation? I'm NOT an experienced martial artist and I'm curious what people who do have more experience have to say about this. What I really want to hear are comments pro and con about crappy point sparring vs. encouraging LARPers to spar at all.


On the whole, I think that this CMA sparring setup you have described has good intentions behind it but will probably suck on the whole in terms of a training experience.

Why is this?

Because the instructor probably isn't an expert when it comes to training and supervising real sparring and students who go for no-contact CMA or taiji in the first place probably aren't of the mindset that would be comfortable in that environment in the beginning.

I predict that you're going to have a lot of students who lack a realistic level of aggression and determination while they spar and the intensity will be unrealistically low. At the same time you're going to have an instructor who has unfounded or untested ideas about what people should do in a combat situation and he will compound the situation by basically giving people bad advice.

While doing point sparring would be better than absolutely nothing if you end up doing more point sparring than full contact against said students you are likely to develop bad muscle memory. Point sparring is better than nothing but real contact is vastly preferable to point sparring if only because it builds your instincts so that you can attack and keep going instead of punching someone once and expecting him to explode or only being used to being hit once instead of learning what it feels like to take a barrage of hard hits.

Also, if you only fight against crappy newbs you wouldn't develop the skills and attributes that you would need to fight against someone who is actually tough, determined, or experienced. There are opponents and then there are opponents.

Lastly, don't worry about hitting people too hard. Just make an honest effort to do what is appropriate for the situation you find yourself in. As a student nobody can ask any more of you.

Did that answer your question?

Epicurus
4/16/2007 1:49am,
tl; dr

Take judo or boxing and spar.

pauli
4/16/2007 1:54am,
i would not spar with anyone who refers to point sparring as "san shou."

Virus
4/16/2007 2:28am,
The last two posts rule.

Edit: This looks like a red flag to me;


I spent some time watching a class. It looked to be a lot of random flailing, point sparring, lots of "watch your power" and the instructor interrupting the fights every ten seconds. No kicks below the waist, no elbows, no knees, head shots frowned on, only sweep takedowns allowed "for now"

If they are randomly flailing it could be that this guy is not actually teaching proper offensive and defensive technique. You can't just teach people a bunch of tai-chi forms then throw them into sparring, because it doesn't work. You need to learn how to defend a punch, deliver one, defend kicks, deliver kicks. To cut a long story short you need kickboxing (or real sanda).

As for the rest of the rules, they are quite restrictive. I can understand holding back on the power for beginners but you should be able to use leg kicks, since that's where kicks are most effective. Head shots frowned upon is not necessary if you are using gloves and headgear. Only sweep takedowns, hmmmm.. I'd keep an eye on that and make sure a full variety of takedowns is allowed eventually.

Do you want to fight? That's the central question. If you don't then this class is great. Do tai-chi, do point sparring with no head shots ect. If you do want to fight, and improve your ability in a r34l fight, then there are places where time is far more productively spent. Look for a proper sanda school or take up a striking and grappling art elsewhere (and no I don't mean tai-chi and aikido.)

colonelpong2
4/16/2007 4:28am,
Hey Yanta, always glad to see another lady here with an interest in smashing people. Your gender is under represented and we need more of you. My advice is simple and reiterates what many of the others have said.

Sparring = good.
Not sparring = bad.

Point sparring is okay as long as you know that it is just sport and has virtually no realistic fighting application.

Personally, I would flee at once and find somewhere that spars in a more realistic manner, but thats just me.

On the other hand, can you turn your back on the poor san shou people who need to be guided into the light and saved from their walk on the LARP side?

Up to you

meng_mao
4/16/2007 4:36am,
Codos -- you guys 'spar' on concrete?

Raining_Blood
4/16/2007 4:44am,
Sparring is devils juice. Avoid it at all costs.

PPlate
4/16/2007 4:46am,
My take is that it'd definitely teach bad habits. I would go once just to be nice, but offer up an excuse not to continue.

It took some time for me to deprogram myself from point sparring to really dare to kick and punch with some force during full contact sparring (being punched and kicked with force helped), and this is something that a few others I know who came from point sparring backgrounds encountered. We had a fear of hitting other people properly (by properly I mean hard enough) during sparring, and often will stop and apologize when we did.

This fear of hitting will not go away until one takes part in a full contact competition I think.

So going the other way to do point sparring will probably be bad for you.

colonelpong2
4/16/2007 4:48am,
Sparring is devils juice. Avoid it at all costs.

If you are only joking, I apologise in advance for the red varrot

Ke?poFist
4/16/2007 5:09am,
Yanta, you sometimes train at Jason Lamberts school? That's cool :)

PirateJon
4/16/2007 6:54am,
TL; stopped R

You're overthinking it.

If you want to try their wacky rules thing, go and try it. You can watch and ask questions to 'get it right' but it's not like you'll be deported if you hit them too hard once.

If you find it sucks or hurts your other training, stop.

Virus
4/16/2007 6:59am,
If you find it sucks or hurts your other training, stop.

In other words, give it a go for five minutes.

M1K3
4/16/2007 10:17am,
Yanta, what do you want out of this is the big question. You can do this for fun and exercise. You can use this to maybe move the class to something more realistic, or you can pass and say "I prefer kickboxing over point sparring, no offense intended". Another good excuse would be that MCMAP has ruined you for point sparring and you are afraid you might really hurt someone. Then say something profound like "Pain is weakness leaving the body". Gets you out of sparring and builds up the Marine Corps mystique at the same time. Oooh Rah!