10 Steps to Sparring Survival.
By Andy Dickinson
Tips to ensure that you enjoy and survive your sparring experience.
1. If this is your first experience, don’t have any great expectations as to how you will go. Just getting in and attending is a great first step.
2. You may be nervous and have all kinds of thoughts going. This can be either positive or negative. Once you have committed to coming to the sparring session, try not to think about it again. Stay focused on; “I have made up my mind and am doing this.”
3. Positive nervous energy may also act against you. Coming in too charged up can make you edgy and you may tire easily.
4. Control the nerves and emotions by a) monitoring your own thoughts about how you feel. Choosing not to attach to any thoughts that can have a negative effect. b). When you feel overcome with nerves, remember the breath. Breathe in and out evenly, ensuring to breathe from the diaphragm.
5. Use the dojo as a place to become still and neutral. Once you step onto the mat, release into the present moment and leave all else behind. Whether it is sparring or normal class your attitude and focus should be the same; Still and neutral, ready to respond.
6. When in front of your sparring partner, no matter who they are, what belt they are or what you know about them, stand in front of them as if you are seeing them for the first time. It’s the pre conceived ideas about your partner that will quickly dictate your emotions, behaviour and reactions during the spar. Be neutral no matter who you are standing in front of.
7. Don’t rush in. Be cautious. Keep your space and spend the first 10-30 seconds just observing how your partner moves. If they rush in move back or to the side.
8. Maintain your stance, keep good form. Don’t switch between stances. You work and train in one stance during regular class, keep this in sparring. No matter how much pressure you are under, maintain your stance, keep your elbows in and your hand held high.
9. Keep the right hand on the chin. If you cannot feel the hand on your chin it is too low. Keep the left hand off the chin. If you can’t see it in front then it is too low.
10. Use the front hand (left jab) to probe and check to see how your partner responds. Feel out your partner. The front hand and front leg, do not call for full commitment and are good to just good for checking and maintaining space and distance.
Want to try sparring?
Every Thursday at 7.30pm at Balmain HQ. Beginners welcome. Free for Members.
Need Sparring Gear? Mens Sparring Pack: $100 (gloves. shin and groin). Women’s Sparring Pack: $80 (gloves and shin)