Students initially associate light sparring to mean “slow-motion”, and hard sparring to mean “fast”. But that’s should not be the case. Slow motion striking is not effective, because it’s not reflective of a real combat situation. Student’s need to learn “fast-and-light” sparring. This means learning how to “pull punches” – a technique where speed can be at an optimal level but before connecting to the opponent, the attack is dissipated (or attenuated) at the last millisecond. With this approach, realistic reactionary measures can be practiced, without hurting your opponent.
yet requires the absence of rhythm.
Students also make the mistake of taking turns when sparring, meaning that when one attacks the other defends – then they switch. Rhythm is an asset and a threat. A sparring match has a tendency takes on a predictive ping-pong of attack/defend and defend/attack. But this is also not realistic. Taking turns is a form of rhythm that a good fighter will seek to break. A good fighter will break the rhythm of an opponent to confuse them. In contrast, a fighter is at a big disadvantage if they don’t understand the rhythm of their opponent.
Often the best opportunity to counter-attack is when an opponent is attacking. This is an “attack when being attacked” approach, and is effective because at the moment they are attacking, the opponent is most exposed. For instance, a left jab from an opponent means their left side of their head is no longer being protected. Only their right hand is available to block a counter-attack. When a fighter is committing to an attack, it leaves them vulnerable. With the right timing and anticipation, the exposed side of the opponent can be exploited.
When facing an opponent with a strong guard (i.e. their head is well protected with a stable stance), fakes and faints can be used to create openings. This causes the opponent to defend, move or strike, which creates new opportunities and vulnerabilities.
About the Author
Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.
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Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series
If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:
• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°