Monday, August 4, 2014

We don't spar enough

I cannot count the number of times I've heard that from my students. "We need to spar more often, after all - isn't that why we're here?"

Tang Soo Do is taught in our franchise as a defensive martial art. As I like to say, we're not here to teach you how to beat people up, we're here to learn how to defend ourselves. We spend a lot of time on fundamentals; stances, kicks, blocks, attacks, kicks, and did I mention kicks?

We also practice One Step Sparring, which as its name implies is a scripted attack/defense scenario in which one person executes a punch and the partner executes one of several dozen defensive techniques. Additionally we constantly review Ho Sin Sul; techniques for defending against various wrist and clothing grabs.

Of course, we spend a significant amount of energy on our Hyung (forms/patterns/kata), so when you add it all up, there isn't much time left for sparring. But - that's OK. My instructor, Master Joe Bruno is keen on telling us that, short of routinely walking into bars and spitting into patron's beer, we're not that likely to get into a full fledged fight very often - if ever.

However, people do get grabbed. We see it in the news all of the time. Then there's what I like to call "Too much beer at the family reunion" events. We've all found ourselves having an emotional discussion with someone who has just lost their temper, their objectivity, or control. Maybe this other person is wagging their finger in your face, or digging their finger into your chest, or maybe they're about to grab you or even take an ill-advised swing.

None of these situations are fights, per se, but they do represent self-defense situations. And it is just this type of confrontation for which One Step Sparring and Ho Sin Sul are ideal preparation.

You wouldn't want to execute a back-wheel kick to your co-worker just because she got tipsy and started yelling at you during the company picnic. However, if she were to grab your shirt and you were able to immediately extricate yourself without necessarily breaking her arm - that could be a very good deterrent to future aggression.

I've been in a few situations where another person just lost it; absolutely blew their stack and could have easily started taking swings. Because of my training, I never felt scared, kept my composure, but as a result diffused the situation without blows.

 Maybe I'm just lucky, but I cannot remember any time in my adult life where I was in (or next to) a full fist flying fight. I don't think it's likely either. But I do occasionally find myself in places where anger, poking, and grabbing are possible (usually alcohol is involved). At those times, I'm grateful for my One Step and Ho Sin Sul training.

1 comment:

  1. I've looked into Shotokan karate quite a bit. What I've seen, is the traditional karate program (using Shotokan), is divided into three main sections: (1) basics, (2) kata, (3) sparring. Shotokan proposes that all three are necessary and valuable for successful karate training.

    Does this 3-part training regimen imply that 1/3 of traditional karate training be spent in each section equally; or should the weighting emphasize on section over the other(s)?

    I would have to say the author here having a policy of, "... less sparring is ,more,' is among the minority. I've attended a local karate school where the entire class was devoted to free sparring.

    So many in the kickboxing world or in say, the Kyokushin karate style, believe that actual sparring is the most important part of training.

    What specifically is their argument? Seems to me they want to the realistically prepared for the actual physical fight.


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