Beginning Sparring in Traditional Taekwondo
Beginning SparringI like to start my students off doing things later than other schools. Take beginning sparring for instance, I prefer my students to start sparring closer to when they're green belts rather than when they're white or yellow. Training for sparring however starts immediately in my school, and increases in progression. Contact and pressure testing starts at yellow belt - typically with me starting a 'programmed' sparring experience. Meaning I 'spar' with the students and they only get to block. I coach them through stuff and then allow them to use limited weapons (like one or two punches). And then at later stages they get to attack me without fear or reprisals or work with people much less skilled to practice rhythm, techniques, and distancing. Integration comes in cycles.
Currently, I'm starting off my orange belt with beginning sparring much quicker. She's leaving for an overseas position in two months, and I wanted to accelerate her training ahead of 'normal' progression in my school so she adequately faces off greater challenges in other schools whilst maintaining a steady center through it all.
Beginning sparring type exercises have already started a couple of months ago - though I try to keep it simple. The last one or two sessions have featured similar sessions - with me attacking, but this time attacking with greater strength, speed, intensity, and using weapons typically used in sparring. This includes head high strikes, thigh kicks, centreline strikes and takedowns.
The overall objective at first is to desensitize against threat from aggressor and to maintain measured and steady breathing cycles. Other objectives include blocking and coverage with elbows, forearms, kneeds, and forehead ... rather than other sensitive areas of the body. Also want the student to show measured footwork, making sure to move at regular intervals and to randomize direction whilst reducing target areas.
Early in the beginning sparring session you could see my student's body quiver imperceptibly when the adrenaline hits - there was a distinct fight/flight syndrome occuring! We took one or two rounds to bring that under control so that arm and leg movement continued using regular large muscle breathing to moderate air intake. The holding of the breath during the onset of the attack was still a major problem. This should correct itself in the next 2-3 weeks.
During about the 12-15 minutes of this session, the student was:
1. taken down twice
2. struck on the body core three times with light force
3. struck on the side of the body lightly twice
4. struck in the forehead and side of the head lightly multiple times
5. struck in the thigh moderately twice-thrice
From previous Traditional Taekwondo training the student shows some aptitude in upper body coverage. Strikes to the facial region or upper body were not easy and therefore were not taken advantage of during this slug 'em out session.
The student however should improve falling. Breakfalling skills were not apparent and student stopped her fall using an extended arm. Without opponent 'help', injury would no doubt have occurred.
In the upcoming weeks I anticipate including more varied striking combinations, slightly harder impact, takedowns and chokes.
All in all a good session. The student more or less maintained control over most limbs while standing, improve footwork through the session, control emotions, and was able to finish off the session uninjured.
Beginning Sparring Links