What is the purpose of sparring? Sparring is free-form fighting and is practiced at different levels. It is included in training typically with a set of rules that safe-guard students from serious injury. Beginner students start by combining basic striking movements with footwork to help them move out of the way of their opponent. Instead of deep stances that forms require, students now learn to be light and quick on their feet. Sparring is a method to learn how to be spontaneous and react to an opponent’s unpredictable movements.
Depending on the martial arts style, protective gear may or may not be worn. Traditional Taekwon-do uses protective gear and practices light contact scoring points at competitions. Hapkido also has light contact and focuses on quick footwork and blocking. Two areas that improve sparring are staying calm and sticking with basic movements. Staying calm and breathing keeps a student focused and relaxed. When you are relaxed, strikes are more effective and your guard stays in place. Stick to the basic punches and kicks. Jabs, cross, and non-spinning kicks serve the best for speed. Experienced students may use spin kicks, but this action requires faster movements.
Benefits of sparring include judging distance, learning timing, and improving cardiovascular fitness. Overall, sparring is a learning experience and greatly rounds out the martial arts program.