There is nothing more exotic to civilians or an audience of non-martial artists than to see two fighters pairing off at the dojo and exchanging strikes. There is beauty in the techniques, timing, exchange, and counters. It's almost like being an observer in a private discussion where the two in question are speaking a foriegn tongue.
For the most part however, most taekwondo sparring sessions are a farce - there is scant danger involved. Training sessions in the dojo are between taekwondo/karate students of more or less the same skill level. Or if the skill has great disparity, then rules and a good training environment make sure that the person with superior experience helps nurture the less able opponent.
I commented to Mir a couple of years ago when she observed me sparring against a number of opponents that all I was doing was prancing about. And it was totally true. Why I looked good was because I had a great advantage of skill and experience, didn't feel too much in danger, and thus could pull out really cool techniques, show off tactical flashy sequences, and generally time out my opponents.
One way of beating an opponent is by the use of 'broken rhythm'. This is a concept propounded by Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet June Do. Everything in life has a rhythm. Training has a rhythm. Sparring has a rhythm. Techniques have their rhythm. A person has his own rhythm ... and gets used to this 'rhythm' or natural speed of doing things. So when you face off with an opponent, broken rhythm prompts you to think about:
1. Setting up your opponent by presenting a set natural sparring or fighting rhythm - then change it in due course by attacking and gap closing really fast.
2. Reduce the rhythm when you want to show the opponent you're running out of gas, and thus allowing the opponent to slow down his own gears when facing you.
3. Perform the start of techniques slower, let the opponent capture this initial movement and then modify the technique's flight path into the opponent.
4. Use combinations of techniques to create rhythmic patterns, re-use the initial part of the combinations so that the opponent re-uses his assumptions of what you are doing ... then introduce variances to catch him off guard.
5. Lastly - the opponent is used to what he is used to. If the opponent thinks I'm a taekwondo practitioner and I'm going to attack him with flashy kicks, then I'm going to set him up to think long range flashy kicks, but knock his head off with short range punches.
In life as in Taekwondo, we can get ahead by using broken rhythm to propel and progress ourselves forward. My last trip to Italy showed me how much fun and how easy it was to learn italian when I was forced to use it everyday. Now back at home I've still got my Italian phrasebook in hand and benefiting from the initial massive exposure. It would be interesting to apply this to other aspects of your own private or corporate development. Any thoughts?
Peace, my brothers.
Related Posts on Strategy
He Hit Me and Said Sorry
Just Run at Him and Kill Him
Holding Our Enemies - an interesting post on confronting ourselves as we confront our opponents
Being Good at Sparring Means You're Only Good at Sparring