Monday, February 28, 2011

Defining My Own Distaste for “Point” Sparring

  I've stated numerous times, my own dislike of point sparring. When I make that statement (without further definition), I encounter numerous declaration’s of how I'm preventing my student's from learning how to react in a “real” confrontation. This rarely comes from individual's that have any real experience in confrontational encounter's. The majority of sparring sessions, are based on an unrealistic scenario/situation to begin with. They will (commonly) begin with both individual's assuming a “fighting” stance, with a referee providing a “begin” command.
  To believe that this is even close to how a confrontation begins is delusional (at best) to begin with. Even if one ignores this fantasy manner of beginning a confrontation, one then has to cease their defensive actions if/when a point is considered to of been scored.
  Sparring, is a sport pastime, period. It has very little to nothing to do with training an individual in self-defense. It's absence from practice is not detrimental to one's ability to defend themselves. I've listened to numerous argument's to the contrary, yet all have had to concede the fact that the participant's are not in the same situation as a real confrontation. Argument's for it's relevance to training, include that the participant learns to take a punch (which is complete B.S.). The fact that you can resist/absorb a padded strike (to an equally padded appendage/body part) does not mean that you can/will resist that same strike in a real  confrontation, to believe so, is ridicules. Equally misleading, is the fact that this same strike (which scored a point) will always cause/create any manner of a deterrence on the part of the recipient. 
  In regards to Oyata's methodology, sparring disallows 90% of what my student's practice on a regular basis. In fact, by participating in sparring, those same student's would be practicing Not to use the very technique's that we review in every class. I am a very firm believer in “you do, as you practice”. It would be hypocritical (of me), to then have(if not force) my student's to participate in the practice of sparring. There are several students who do, but not with my acquiescence of it (to do otherwise, would prove a little too authoritative for my taste). I can't/don't mandate any (restrictions of) behavior practices of my student's. I will voice my opinion of that behavior/practice, but I would never restrict it (it's their training, their paying for it, they can do as they wish).
  Another (IMO) misleading use of sparring, is in regards to training female student's. Instructor's will often inject their female students into the sparring realm to allow them to feel what it's like to be struck. This practice tends to bother me. First off, the biggest problem that I've encountered with my own female student's, is in training them to strike harder (with more force than they usually utilize). It's my opinion that everyone is familiar with what pain feels like (they hardly need to be reminded by being struck again).
  Involvement with a confrontational situation, will (automatically) trigger an adrenalin rush (which dampens the pain receptor levels of the individual). Females are also built different (as if you hadn't noticed, LOL). They have the same targeting points (and a couple more) as their male counterparts. They are rarely involved in equivalent situations to those that a male can find themselves in. When have you ever seen a female involved with a dueling situation? (such as sparring emulates).  
  The vast majority of female defensive situation's, are partner based (meaning husband, boyfriend etc.). These (usually) don't equate in any way, to a sparring situation. Hence, the inclusion of sparring does nothing to assist in their training. Those instructor's that push the stranger-danger (somebody leaping out of the bushes, BS) are ignoring the realities of female defensive situation's. One need only view their local police reports (usually available “on-line”). The vast majority of call's are domestic violence (ie. family/sibling physical altercations). These are also (commonly) between a male and female resident. When you do see a public disturbance call listed, it's usually between two or more males.
  One can draw numerous (and sometimes erroneous) conclusions from this information. #1 being, that the odds of being involved with/in a physical altercation will usually include one of the individual's being a male. This obviously isn't a guarantee, but it's a pretty sure bet. For that same reason, the majority of actions and responses, are formulated around the aggressor being a male (and having male oriented responses to those practiced actions). Be it for what-ever reason, males are trained (throughout their growing years) that to strike a female, is considered wrong (by western society). This is often erroneously interpreted as allowing the slapping of a female, as being acceptable(by a male). Though one can/will often witness a female slap another female, that does not equate to an allowance of a male performing the same action. The physical dynamics are completely different between the two examples.
  Argue the point all you wish, but to pit a female, against a male in a sparring situation is unrealistic (at best). The dynamics of a real confrontation will be completely different (for both parties). Sparring, attempts to place the female, in a male position/situation. Reality will rarely (if ever) allow that to happen. A female should train to utilize those attributes that they already posses. Not attempt to develop those attributes that conflict with those abilities. I witness too many instructor's attempt to turn their female student's into becoming male equivalents. It isn't going to happen (and IMO, is a disservice to the female student).
  Though I strive to avoid going off-subject (at least the original one, LOL), In this case, it serves to accentuate my point. Sparring serves no Self-defense (training) purpose. 



openhand said...

Ok, this makes about the 5th time that “Blog-Spot” has “F'd” up my posts (rearranging and resizing pieces of the post). I “believe” that I've corrected this one, for now. And BTW, adrenalin can be spelled with, or without the “e” (they are both pharmaceutical names for the hormone epinephrine secreted by the adrenal gland).
I do thank those who pointed out these "ghost" errors to me.

Anonymous said...

I been telling people the same thing for yr. Even at the beginning of my training I knew it was a game of tag (granted it can be a painful one where you could get your head kicked off just trying to show everybody how tough you are) but I've learned that some people just love sport fighting. I like yourself know it can't help us as we get older, I'm almost 53 so bring on the tuite & kyusho :)