Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications

Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications
JDK Instructors share the passion with ITF friends here in Perth

28 Aug 2007

Beginning Sparring Part One: Problems Encountered


Pick on someone smaller, won't ya?

I am going to provide some sparring skills training to a black belt practitioner; partly to assess his skills and partly to work on a progressive training system for his students. I thought to take the opportunity to discuss some basic challenges students have when starting sparring training. The following is a basic list of sparring skills I came up with off the top of my head.

1. Objectives: I've seen most schools throw their students in the deep end. Sparring skills should be built up in a progressive manner, similar to other skills acquisition they are doing. Pressure testing should come much later. First off is to define what the students are doing and what they should be looking out for. I tell my students they should be focusing on a) recognising strikes and techniques used by their opponents, b) gauge distances, and c) test simple techniques - reaching out to opponents lightly.

2. Distancing and Reach: Many people have difficulty understanding distances when time-pressure is against them. Also tunnel vision and reduction of peripheral vision make distancing more difficult. Students need to re-learn how to guage distances for sparring and improving their spatial awareness for martial art techniques.

3. Targetting: Students have no clue how to perform a technique let alone where to hit the opponent. I tend to point out major possible areas before sparring. This should be in line with complementary drills like one-steps during practice sessions. Beginners should not overly think about specific strike points, but look for big targets to aim techniques at.

4. Weapons to Use: Many students start off sparring knowing 4-6 strikes (hand and foot), 3 blocks, and 3 stances. But when faced with such a pressure test - how many things can a student think of at once? One or two only! In fact this continues even up to when the student becomes an intermediate or advanced belt, but it's just processed at a faster rate, so it seems that they've learned a lot more.

5. Combinations: The student can think of one or two things. Block. Strike. Strike Block. They can't think of combinations. These can be 'handed' to them so that they can engage a sequence without having to be so aware of everything.

6. Protection and Coverage: Here's a downblock, mid block, and up block - all great for blocking things that your grandmother throws at you. Now block something from the Chuck Norris brown belter who's training with you. Doesn't work at all! Students need to be taught more coverage skills. They've got to be taught how to move away so that the opponent needs to always track them. They should know how not to walk into a technique!


Who's protecting your opponent from you?

7. Stamina and Endurance: Never smoked a day in my life ... yet I feel like I have emphysema as I try to dance around the room. You can't breathe because you've not been taught how to breathe during sparring. In fact whatever new breathing technique you've learned in a hard style system is most often WRONG. It's not the student's fault he's holding his breath! This is natural when you start getting stressed and tensed.


Can't breathe? Pick up a healthier habit!

8. Fear and Discomfort: It's confronting, and is one of the exercises that really tear down the walls of confidence in a person in order to build it up again - stronger than ever. But to have a person face such fears, you need to be cognizant of it and cater to this period of training. Once they cross that hump, then you can let it coast, but before that happens, the student cannot think of much else let alone technique or distancing, relaxation or proper movement.


Bring along protection at all times.

Colin

Related Links
Taekwondo Chon-ji No One Wants to Get Hit
Fighting Concepts from Ways of the Warrior Blog
Kihap Shouting in Taekwondo
Traditional Taekwondo Sparring

4 comments:

[Mat] said...

That was different :D

My major complaint against most karate schools?

Here are gloves.
This is the fighting stance.
Fight.

Wow. Are you're not supposed to do anything wrong from there? I remember my first. It was awful. I threw myself at the other guy and pummeled until I was out of breath and then received a very good blow in the stomach.

It lasted around 10sec. We were both on the floor.

LOL

Sometimes, teachers forget to teach.

Cheers!

Colin Wee said...

Sometimes teachers forget to teach or do they teach the way they do because that's the way they learned it? I certainly learned it the hard way, and I sure as hell am not going to teach it that way! As an instructor it's my job to figure out better ways to teach the same stuff!

I'm going to continue the post, looking at the line of reasoning, and highlighting how my kata and student training work hand in hand to build sparring skills.

8 items - I guess it'll take about two months to get through if I do one per week.

Colin

Blackbeltmama said...

Hi Colin,

I was reading through some posts of yours today and saw this picture of my daughter (toddler in blue sparring gear). I don't mind if you use it (since I know of you), but I do require that any photo used from my site is credited back. I also like if people ask as some of them are my husband's photography.

Thanks.

Colin Wee said...

BBM - I am extremely mortified. My sincerest apologies.

Here is my MO - I go to google images, type up my keywords, look through the photo and literally embed the source code into my post. So, if someone is looking for that photo, the link would be yours (or wherever you store the photo).

I'm happy to remove the photo.

Sorry again!

Colin