Sparring, and its cousin "fighting", require a combination of technique, timing, confidence, and control of distance and power.  Building each of these takes time and lots of practice. Throwing a student in a ring with others is not the best way to build skill and confidence.

In Tang Soo Do, we build a practitioner's ability up through One Step Sparring. As its name implies the student and a partner execute a pre-planned series of moves, one step at a time to practice:
  • Technique - For example, how do you block a punch and counter punch at the same time?
  • Distance - How far away do you have to be, i.e. how long is your arm and leg?
  • Timing - How fast do you have to move, i.e. how long can you wait before countering an attack?
Typically, through repetition a student learns all three, and learns them in that order. As a student progresses through the ranks the techniques become more difficult, building on fundamentals and skills which should be mastered at lower belt ranks. Practicing One Step Sparring should be done earnestly and with effort, i.e. students should be sweating and breathing hard as these techniques are practiced.

Training Techniques:
For Instructors: Beginning student often struggle in sparring as they are either too timid or too aggressive (both are potentially dangerous).  I've often said the most dangerous fighters in the room are Orange Belt Men - they have way too little ability and way too much confidence!

Here is a technique described in two posts that seem to help students with both issues:


  1. I'm not surprised there is no comment on 1-step sparring.

    The MMA audience denouces the practice as "fixed" and "rigid," and against an "unresisting," "predictable" opponent. Boxers advocate shadow boxing and actual sparring as more realistic because they provide real time variation and live reactions.

    M. Meredith presents three critical skills taught by 1-step sparring: (1) technique, (2) distance, (3) timing. And for example, he proposes that 1-steps teach the applied skill of block & punch at the same time.

    I have a CS Kim video and the 1st set of hand 1-steps does in fact teach a simultaneous use of block & strike. but is that what the 1-steps are really teaching?

    I propose the 1-steps provide a magnified look at what TSD and traditional karate trains as fundamental skill versus what the boxer, MMA'r, Muay Thai'r. train. This magnified look through 1-step sparring, which was heavily popularized in the Japanese and perhaps Okinawan karate systems is what distinguished karate from the sports-based fighting seen in MMA.

    There is one MMA trainer proponent who refers to TMA, karate in general and 1-step sparring in particular as "dead" training. He has built quite a following do so.


    In reply to the MMA proponent who calls 1-step sparring, "dead training," I'll directly contradict that assertion and say in fact, 1-step sparring is very alive, mentally.

    I'll also differ from M. Meredith when he says that 1 steps should be practiced with earnestly with effort--the students should be sweating & breathing hard. IMHO, 1-steps should be practiced earnestly and with effort, MENTALLY. Moreover, there is a progression in the amount of mental effort because there are stages to learning the 1-steps, more importantly, in learning the principles involved.

    1-steps, in essence, are a mental exercise, not a physical one. Sure, the techniques and movements are expressed physically, by our bodies. It's the control of the mind over the body, however, the gives the 1-steps their 'PUNCH.'

    There's a video by ED Parker on Y/T re board breaking. IN that video, Ed Parker broadly states the differentiating element of traditional karate compared to boxing, ;MMA, etc. is CONTROL. It is the precision technique that gathers the strength of the entire body and projects that power in a very specific way on a specific point that gives karate its effectiveness. It is the highly disciplined mind that is able to exercise such control lesson in Ed Parker's video.

    I submit that 1-step sparring focuses & reinforces the control by the mind, building a high-level of mental discipline that can respond (not react like the boxer or athlete) in the precise way to overcome the opponent's attack.

    I am not surprised to see M. Meridith say one should be physically working hard in 1-step practice. Shotokan and the hard-styles of karate like TSD emphasize physical force. By jumping into heavy exertion, we shortcut and override the conditions with stress which interferes with the mind's ability to learn and strengthen.

    Heavy exertion is largely for conditioning, then testing and actual fighting, IMHO


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