Dec 17 2016

How good at you at sparring? What’s your strategy??

It’s been a few years since I fought hard in competition. I guess it’s because at 38 years old, I’m over the hill and considered an old man. However, it still doesn’t mean that I’ve lost the ring experience that I’ve gained over the course of my fighting career. If given the chance, I’ll still glove up and fight…but just not like I used to and still have fun doing it. I train others more these days. Back in my “fighting days”, I wasn’t really into “point” style sparring. Although I think it’s a great tool to master, it wasn’t for me. I’m more of a continuous, bout style sparring competitor.

As an active competitor, I managed to have a 36-1 record in continuous sparring competitions. I was blessed with having good trainers who coached and mentored me to perfect my ring strategies…but what were my thoughts during sparring training? Today, I way too often see fighters go into sparring sessions without any sort of strategy. Most fighters just step into sparring without any tactics, strategies or game plan of any kind…. don’t be that guy (or girl)!

Sparring is where you should be perfecting your sparring techniques. I’m not talking about the curriculum techniques if you’re in kenpo, but just techniques in general meaning that you need to be focusing on the areas of your fight game that need improvement. For instance, try to concentrate on improving your weak kicks or your loopy punches instead of resorting to your stronger techniques to win a round of sparring… it won’t do you much good in the long run…so, Have A Game Plan.

Before you step into the ring to spar, get an idea for what sparring techniques and tactics you want to improve and work on. Every round you should try to work on something different and gradually put them together towards the end. Here are some of the game plans, tactics and strategies I use for my sparring sessions:

  • Counter punches while moving backwards
  • Finish punch combinations with kicks
  • Use feints/fakes to set up certain strikes
  • Look to catch kicks instead of blocking them..better yet, don’t be there.
  • Instigate and dominate the clinch
  • And more recently, the ground game including punch/kick combos to set up a take down.

Those are just a handful of the sparring strategies I implement in my training. So next time you are sparring, just ask yourself…What am I trying to accomplish in this round of sparring?

Most importantly, When you are sparring…Let Your Ego Go

You should not be fighting like it’s a championship fight. You should not be trying to kill your sparring partner. You should not worry about impressing other guys/girls at the studio. Here’s a piece of advice if you do any of those – stop being a dick. Sparring isn’t the place to show your macho side by trying to demoralize and humiliate whoever you are sparring. You won’t learn anything by always pushing the pace and trying to knock your sparring partner out. If you are truly better than whoever you are sparring, then implement certain game plans or work on your weaker techniques to polish your entire fight game! Yes, sometimes even your weaker techniques may do some devastating damage to your opponent..but even so you still need to be working on something.

On the flip side, if you are getting your ass handed to you in a sparring session, just move past it and take whatever positives you can from the experience.Everyone has a rough day in the ring/cage and in the end it will make you tougher (mentally and physically) and more resilient if you learn from those mistakes. Don’t let a bad sparring session drag you down or get you mad. Next time you spar, be aware of your past mistakes from previous sparring sessions and work on those mistakes in the current sparring session!
There should always be something you can improve in your training. Never be complacent.

When you spar…Be confident enough where you don’t have to show off to training partners, instructors or friends, but be humble enough to know that there is always someone out there better than you and you should be working hard everyday to improve.

Let your ego go and I guarantee you will see major improvement in your training immediately.