Sparring is a useful training tool. It allows you to work on your reflexes, distance and timing (as outlined in this blog post) , while adding a live element to your martial arts training. That being said, when sparring for training purposes, we never do so at full power and intensity without regard for our partner. There are a number of reasons we try to exercise control.
One reason is safety. If you’re sparring with someone and you get a clear opening, yes, you want to take advantage of it, but you don’t want to knock their block off, potentially knocking them out and causing them injury. Getting hit at all is more than enough feedback for the person to realize their error. Another reason is practicality. If your partner gets injured while sparring then they have to take time off training causing you to lose a training partner (or vice versa if you’re on the receiving end). Also, if the person is fairly new to sparring, they won’t learn as effectively through the “sink or swim” method due to the high levels of stress imposed from being constantly hit. And, of course, sometimes you or your partner are just feeling a bit off physically or mentally and are just not as sharp as you usually are when sparring. (more…)