Sparring. Everyone has an opinion on sparring, especially those who have never done it. I can’t count how many times I’ve talked to a parent or a prospective student and sparring has come up. People either think it’s the most intense UFC-style thing ever or just a random game that isn’t really relevant to the real world. The truth, of course, is that’s it’s both and yet neither.
I’m a blackbelt, and I’ve been teaching martial arts most of my life. A big part of that is sparring. Sparring is one of the most enjoyable parts of learning the martial arts. Here it is, your skills on display, in a direct match against another person. There are no ties, and you instantly know, instantly, who is the better fighter. There are no doubts. It’s a fantastic learning tool.
That said, the more I teach and the more I practice, the more I realize that one of the most common sparring styles, point sparring, is almost completely useless. Continue reading