Today, I would like to talk about the subject of sparring when it comes to martial arts. Sparring of course is practicing fighting against a live opponent and when done correctly, it is quite beneficial. Today there are many martial arts schools that do not teach sparring, and often times the reasons for this are that they say that their techniques are too dangerous to use for sparring. Other martial arts that practice sparring do so without hitting harder than a mere tap, and often in this situation the attacking student does not learn how to hit with power, and the defending student does not learn how to defend against more powerful strikes. Then there is the issue of students who are taught to hit as hard as possible, therefore injuring each other, which is not good for either party since they will not be able to practice for awhile. For the martial arts schools in today's society, there needs to be a middle ground when it comes to sparring. I remember taking boxing last year and the sparring was done properly, we were allowed to hit hard enough (with gloves on) to the body and the shoulders, although sometimes we missed, no one was every seriously hurt. The benefits was that we learned accuracy, muscle reactions, power, control, defense and footwork, although if I were teaching I would require students to wear a mouth piece and headgear, it was quite beneficial.
Getting back to martial arts that do not spar, the issue is that many of the old masters who did not spar back in the day would get into street fights, so they knew their arts worked. The issue today is that getting into street fights is not advisable since there is the likelihood of getting seriously injured or killed, and when you do win, you risk going to jail or having a lawsuit filed against you.
So how do I know that sparring is worthwhile? Well if we look back at the early MMA tournaments, many of the grappler's did so well because when it comes to grappling, all grappler's spar, whether it be called ne-waza, rolling, this is what it is, sparring. The difference is that grappler's do not need to defend against striking, but the grappling sessions are all out, sparring sessions, each one is using full resistance. But lets say that we do not count grappling as sparring, look at the early fighters who practiced striking arts that utilize sparring, you will see that they performed better than those who practiced arts that relied on Katas. For example, Patrick Smith was a Kickboxer, and he did quite well until he fought many grapplers. Still another example was Keith Hackney who was a Kenpo Practitioner, and anyone can tell you, they do a lot of sparring in Kenpo.
So today, whether you practice boxing, Jujutsu, Judo, Ninjutsu, Kung Fu, why not add some sparring into the mix and see how it can benefit your training. Remember sparring for striking arts should be controlled, safety equipment should be used, and no one should go 100% or try to hurt their partners since martial arts is to help them defend themselves.