Here's the Real 'Secret' of Sparring... It's NOT What You Think!
Last week's email struck a nerve w/some of you out there. No death threats mind you, but some folks certainly didn't totally pick up what I was laying down so to speak.
What was it that was sooooo saucy you ask?!
Some out there mis-interpreted this statement,
"Take sparring for instance. The 'Go Hard or Go Home' method will just get you f*d up and wrecked. ESPECIALLY if you are over 40."
I get the impression that some people out there may have thought that I meant that sparring wasn't 'necessary', was' ineffective', or shouldn't be done in regards to training how to protect yourself.
That's NOT what I meant at all.
That statement is simply bringing your attention to the fact that many people and approaches put too much emphasis on the WRONG type of sparring.
Most go to hard and take themselves too seriously.
As Ryron Gracie says, "Keep it playful."
Most of the real pro's that I've worked with over the years (Including the famous Gracie Family), they not only know how to spar well, they do it in a way that is sustainable... Probably a lot gentler than most novices think.
Same goes w/the Thai boxers and MMA pro's I've trained with. They typically save the 'hard stuff' for the ring (or cage) when they're in a real match.
Don't Get Me Wrong...
There are lessons to be learned from 'going hard', but keep things in perspective.
A 25 or 30 year old getting ready for their next mma match or submission grappling tournament, should be frequently mixing it up a bit and going hard some of that time...
However, even 'going hard' has to not only be done intelligently, you have to determine what you are looking to get from the experience.
Are you just going for conditioning?
Learning to get hit or overcome your fear?
Are you training a particular offensive or defensive maneuver?
Are you focusing on footwork or positioning?
What are the restrictions... You know, rules of the game so to speak?
Sparring shouldn't be viewed as a free for all. It can be a very useful tool if used correctly.
It can also be fun and sustainable if you do it right.
No matter what you do you have to realize that...
Only REAL Is Real...
Realizing that no matter how real sparring may feel, even if done 'full out', it is only a sliver of an encounter.
A legitimate conflict has complexities that sparring alone cannot cover.
I view sparring as a drill. A way to play with options of chaos inside and around you. A way to train with someone who is giving resistance and has their own competing goals against you.
Sparring is very versatile and can be segmented and limited to just cover certain areas, attacks, movements, situations.
With proper perspective and training partners, you can get a lot out of a sparring match. Things you'll never be able to gain from training static techniques, drills or combinations w/a compliant partner.
This week at our local academy, we've been sparring entries.
Basically, one person is wearing boxing gloves and punching at their partner, while they are trying to swim their way into a clinch or body lock. Then positioning for a throw.
We were doing it light, w/little contact and intensity.
Now, that same drill could be done harder, faster w/more intensity too.
Heck, if the mood 'stuck us', we could go full out...
However you choose to do it, just make sure to ask yourself...
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?
I'm a risk and reward kinda guy. Same thing goes for sparring, you have to make sure that the risk and effort you are putting forth is worth what you're getting out of it.
Same goes with sparring... Especially as you grow older.
Remember often times, your Ego is not your Amigo!
Keeping things in check is tough for the best of us. It's easy to get carried away even w/o malicious intent or from being overly competitive.
Just be careful and understand what your goal is with what (and how) you train.
Some Key Takeaways:
Sparring can be a good training method, but understand it is not real... Only REAL is real.
Sparring is a drill w/it's rules, lessons and limits, so first know what your goal is going in. Remember, it's not the only training method in your tool box. Don't treat it like the be all, end all of your training.
Harder isn't always better.
Train safe and smart.
Your ego isn't your amigo!
Sparring isn't an on/off switch. See it as a dimmer switch. One where you can increase and decrease the intensity level and parameters.
Find (or create) good partners!
When done right, you can train sustainably and learn tons!
Doesn't matter what you're sparring, have fun and as Ryron says...
Keep it playful!
No matter where you are on your journey...
Time to train smarter. Time to gain more clarity and confidence when it comes to protecting yourself... and your family!
It's time, sooner, rather than later.
It's time to get on the wait list to my Private PeaceWalker Membership, so when it opens, you're ready to go!
Have a great day and...