"Honest" Sparring

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

"Honest" Sparring

Postby Sea.Wolf.Forge on Tue Jun 14, 2022 4:37 pm

In my experience the most important division between training, competitions and real fights is risk of injury.
In training, ideally, a serious freak accident comes up every year or so - along with the galaxy of bruises and sprains we all shrug off.
In competition, ideally, you win without injury, but the impact is higher, there's less padding and the torquing on joints happens faster and less forgivingly. Injuries aren't infrequent, usually a person or two will leave a competition to the ER for an assessment or a few months off (or early retirement).
In "Real fighting" - ideally, it doesn't happen. When it does there's no padding, no mats and very little room for error. Someone gets injured usually, broken noses and teeth, broken this or that, maybe someone died - who knows. There isn't a lot of room for growth there, it works or it doesn't and "good enough" can be pretty ugly and unskilled.

I've had several discussions with my current training partner about the rulesets we currently use to spar, trying to mix the versatility of skills available to use with a decent amount of realism for assessing the potential damage taken in a serious exchange. Where we are now is a mix of rounds in muay thai, kyokushin, mma, and no-gi wrestling, it's not perfect, nothing can be. We had to stop for a few months after a rib injury but we're back to it again and it feels good to be back to swinging at each other.

What rulesets have you found useful in giving meaningful pressure for skill growth and feedback but also limiting injury?

I've seen experienced practitioners suffering from things like flinching/blinking to strikes, overreacting to feints, fatiguing quickly under striking pressure, fatiguing quickly under wrestling pressure. The first two are pretty crucial, the last two are relative and more sport oriented but still relevant if the mess someone gets stuck in takes a few minutes to shake off. Do you feel your training exposed you to these things enough to handle them consistently?
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby johnwang on Tue Jun 14, 2022 6:18 pm

Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:What rulesets have you found useful in giving meaningful pressure for skill growth and feedback but also limiting injury?

During the early stage of my long fist training, my long fist teacher would ask one student to play offense and another student to play defense. I learned how to move my head and dodged a head shot in that training very quickly.

After I become an instructor, I find this method is also good to develop certain MA skill.

For example, if today I want to train

- "head punch", whoever can land his fist on his opponent's head,
- "body kick", whoever can land his kick on his opponent's body,
- "single leg", whoever can pick up his opponent's leading leg,
- "head lock", whoever can get his opponent into a head lock,
- ...

will win that round.

IMO, to develop a certain skill can be as important as to accumulate general sparring experience.
Last edited by johnwang on Tue Jun 14, 2022 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby Sea.Wolf.Forge on Tue Jun 14, 2022 8:24 pm

johnwang wrote:
Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:What rulesets have you found useful in giving meaningful pressure for skill growth and feedback but also limiting injury?

During the early stage of my long fist training, my long fist teacher would ask one student to play offense and another student to play defense. I learned how to move my head and dodged a head shot in that training very quickly.

After I become an instructor, I find this method is also good to develop certain MA skill.

For example, if today I want to train

- "head punch", whoever can land his fist on his opponent's head,
- "body kick", whoever can land his kick on his opponent's body,
- "single leg", whoever can pick up his opponent's leading leg,
- "head lock", whoever can get his opponent into a head lock,
- ...

will win that round.

IMO, to develop a certain skill can be as important as to accumulate general sparring experience.


I completely understand stopping on a grappling position (leg pickup/bodylock/headlock) though stopping on a single successful strike is something I wrestle with. If I'm boxing someone, in a 3 minute round I'll expect to hit them multiple times, I don't expect any single punch to result in a knockdown unless I can open up an opportunity to hit flush with a power punch (or combination of power punches). Similarly in Muay Thai - I will kick someone in the body, and likely be kicked several times in a round, none of these impacts will be fight enders and often a body kick can result in a leg grab (which is a position I would be willing to set as a stop mark, because the guy is going for a ride unless his defense is really good). To do it well takes a firm grasp of the honor system, the difference between a touch and a hit must be kept at the forefront or else things can devolve into point sparring with people flitting in and out trying to score touches over hits.

I'd be interested in compiling a list of meaningful stop points for A and B as goals for rounds building off what you've said John.

- Head Punch (strong)
- Body Kick (strong)
- Head lock
- Single Leg
- Sweep
- Leg catch
- Body lock
- Dominant clinch for 10s
- Head Kick
- Caught Head kick

If A is trying for a strong punch to the head, B should be trying to attain clinch/bodylock/headlock, if A is trying for a kick B should be looking to sweep/catch/single leg. etc
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby wiesiek on Wed Jun 15, 2022 1:21 am

..."What rulesets have you found useful in giving meaningful pressure for skill growth and feedback but also limiting injury?..."

This is really hard q. to answer, if we considering whole spectrum of the art/s/.
Little bit easier, when divided on divisions, like:
- weapon/weapon
- weapon/ bare hands
- H2H combat, where we have 3 sub.:
- only punching and kickin`
- wrestling
- all above in any combinations.
speakin` so,-
punching and kicking division is easiest, due to contemporary available protection gear, but if you`re goin` for "real", aka no protection, only slo/mo training letting your teeth and nose be unbroken at once, or in long run.
Wrestling in "gi division", like judo/SJ, are most safest for testing skilz with full power and speed, anyway from my own experience. (I mean judo rulset from `60)
Now,
when we connecting those two, "grabbing in gloves" problem arising.
Again, from my own experience - if you have THE partner, not a partner, some free sparring, close to reality ( no protection) is possible w/o any injury, but more fire in action drives you there quickly.
Same, I suppose in weapon(s) division, but I not dare to comment, due to lack of experience.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby origami_itto on Wed Jun 15, 2022 5:39 am

I don't really know, honestly.
In my experience, live encounters do not resemble sparring so I don't know how useful it is.
It's fun and essential prep for challenge matches and sport fighting and I guess in a general sense it helps more than it harms, but the last thing I want to do in a self defense situation is snap into a stance and square off with somebody.
Proper push hands curriculum and enough sparring to get you over the fear of being hit.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby marvin8 on Wed Jun 15, 2022 7:58 am

Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:What rulesets have you found useful in giving meaningful pressure for skill growth and feedback but also limiting injury?

Not sure of your questions. However, the same rulesets today's professional fighters use. You work together to develop skills, not injure each other. Power can be trained on heavy bags, body armor, power pads, etc. You can go all out in competitions or an actual fight.

Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:I've seen experienced practitioners suffering from things like flinching/blinking to strikes, overreacting to feints, fatiguing quickly under striking pressure, fatiguing quickly under wrestling pressure. The first two are pretty crucial, the last two are relative and more sport oriented but still relevant if the mess someone gets stuck in takes a few minutes to shake off.

One should control the distance, the center line, use deception, entry timing, partner drills, etc. For stamina, learn to relax, running, cardio, sparring longer rounds.

origami_itto wrote:but the last thing I want to do in a self defense situation is snap into a stance and square off with somebody.

... Nor "snap into a stance, square off" and touch arms.

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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby Sea.Wolf.Forge on Wed Jun 15, 2022 10:39 am

origami_itto wrote:Proper push hands curriculum and enough sparring to get you over the fear of being hit.


This one is worth expanding on - push hands starts with arm contact, how does it prepare someone for getting contact or dealing with the speed of things that happen from outside "push hands" range? My experience so far working with higher level guys that do a lot of push hands was "great once they have "their" brand of connection" but flinchy outside of that range and awkward when pressured past their range into upperbody wrestling.

The "crossed hands" range is often overlooked and is a weak point for many modern martial sports - People who train it a lot will hang out there for a while, especially in training but its relatively straightforward to disengage and go back to pure striking or push through to clinching and wrestling range and that needs to be reflected in training. Viewing it as an important transitional range is healthy but specialization falls victim to itself in the same way that only staying at the extremes of a striking or wrestling range can be unhealthy. Your push hands may differ from what I've experienced, happy to be wrong if you've got some examples of it addressing these shortcomings.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby Sea.Wolf.Forge on Wed Jun 15, 2022 10:42 am

marvin8 wrote:
Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:I've seen experienced practitioners suffering from things like flinching/blinking to strikes, overreacting to feints, fatiguing quickly under striking pressure, fatiguing quickly under wrestling pressure. The first two are pretty crucial, the last two are relative and more sport oriented but still relevant if the mess someone gets stuck in takes a few minutes to shake off.

One should control the distance, the center line, use deception, entry timing, partner drills, etc. For stamina, learn to relax, running, cardio, sparring longer rounds.


Yes... but do they?

Also - I think people view the benefit of longer rounds incorrectly - a 2min round is done at a much more intense pace than a 3 or 5 minute round because the rest period being built in. If you want to condition yourself to maintain a high pace, short rounds, if you want to condition yourself to be strategic about effort, long rounds.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby yeniseri on Wed Jun 15, 2022 11:52 am

Many training scenarios just do not match the responses in reality!
In most scenarios, people either try to grap and throw you to the ground or thrash wildly until there is a hit or a punch.

WIng chun responses appear to be the better strategy and ending with throwing (shuai) if one has reached that level.
Even kali/excrima is close in that regard because it offers a didactic response per the grappling because if you are tough to hold onto then the opponent has a problem. I am sur ethat anone who has tussled knows that within 3-5mi, one beocme out of bradth in an all out struggle when you try to grab/hold opponent. If the opponent is not 'struggling' then,m of course, the best conditioned person will be the victor.

Taijituishou just doesn't have the current training methodology to proper counter and give confidence to the many who hope to respond to what is used with "street tussling"!
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby origami_itto on Wed Jun 15, 2022 1:46 pm

Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:
origami_itto wrote:Proper push hands curriculum and enough sparring to get you over the fear of being hit.


This one is worth expanding on - push hands starts with arm contact, how does it prepare someone for getting contact or dealing with the speed of things that happen from outside "push hands" range? My experience so far working with higher level guys that do a lot of push hands was "great once they have "their" brand of connection" but flinchy outside of that range and awkward when pressured past their range into upperbody wrestling.

The "crossed hands" range is often overlooked and is a weak point for many modern martial sports - People who train it a lot will hang out there for a while, especially in training but its relatively straightforward to disengage and go back to pure striking or push through to clinching and wrestling range and that needs to be reflected in training. Viewing it as an important transitional range is healthy but specialization falls victim to itself in the same way that only staying at the extremes of a striking or wrestling range can be unhealthy. Your push hands may differ from what I've experienced, happy to be wrong if you've got some examples of it addressing these shortcomings.


If it's outside of push hands range it is not a threat.

If someone wants to hurt me, they will do the making contact for me.

If they don't make contact I have nothing to worry about. If they do make contact I can usually take control.
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that jing.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby Sea.Wolf.Forge on Wed Jun 15, 2022 2:16 pm

origami_itto wrote:
Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:
If it's outside of push hands range it is not a threat.

If someone wants to hurt me, they will do the making contact for me.

If they don't make contact I have nothing to worry about. If they do make contact I can usually take control.


Two things are implied here that are important - The first is 100% efficacy in being able to turn an attack into push-hands relevant "contact" and not "impact".
The second is that all modes of attack offer viable transitions into push-hands range with 0% risk of entering clinch/wrestling range.

I don't think it's unreasonably to say speed and being suckered by a feint can leave a lot of room for "first contact" to be "first impact" so the success rate is rarely 100% - how would push hands training address those "out of push hands range" threats to better rely on making first contact safely?
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby origami_itto on Wed Jun 15, 2022 2:35 pm

Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:
origami_itto wrote:
Sea.Wolf.Forge wrote:
If it's outside of push hands range it is not a threat.

If someone wants to hurt me, they will do the making contact for me.

If they don't make contact I have nothing to worry about. If they do make contact I can usually take control.


Two things are implied here that are important - The first is 100% efficacy in being able to turn an attack into push-hands relevant "contact" and not "impact".
The second is that all modes of attack offer viable transitions into push-hands range with 0% risk of entering clinch/wrestling range.

I don't think it's unreasonably to say speed and being suckered by a feint can leave a lot of room for "first contact" to be "first impact" so the success rate is rarely 100% - how would push hands training address those "out of push hands range" threats to better rely on making first contact safely?


By using the authentic taijiquan skills of stick adhere join follow without letting go and without resistance.

What art claims 100% efficacy against anything?

Don't get suckered.
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that jing.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby Sea.Wolf.Forge on Wed Jun 15, 2022 2:44 pm

origami_itto wrote:[
origami_itto wrote:
If it's outside of push hands range it is not a threat.

If someone wants to hurt me, they will do the making contact for me.

If they don't make contact I have nothing to worry about.

If they do make contact I can usually take control.

[/quote]

By using the authentic taijiquan skills of stick adhere join follow without letting go and without resistance.

What art claims 100% efficacy against anything?

Don't get suckered.[/quote]

I didn't claim anything, your statement said anything outside of push hands range didn't matter which I took to imply it is the most effective range to train for any situation.
I gave you specific situations where that methodology could be flawed and I was hoping to hear how authentic taijiquan training teaches its adherents to shore up those potential blind spots. All of those principles you've listed presume making first contact safely, which requires a deep familiarity with methods of crossing distance - so my question is how do they achieve that deep understanding if they are not familiar with things outside or inside pushing hands range?
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby origami_itto on Wed Jun 15, 2022 2:56 pm

What do you believe push hands range is?
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that jing.
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Re: "Honest" Sparring

Postby Bao on Wed Jun 15, 2022 3:10 pm

I don't really believe in one single way, or in any ultimate way of learning fighting. IMO, you should try many different rule sets against many different practitioners and stylists. And you should try your own art against different styles and stylists. Even though you can't become good in everything, or great at fighting in all situations, this broader experience will give you a better idea of how different people are and how different people approach fighting and sparring.


origami_itto wrote:I don't really know, honestly.
In my experience, live encounters do not resemble sparring so I don't know how useful it is.


Agree 100%.

Real fighting tend to be much mor direct and people tend to be more stationary, they don't jump around as much. However, I find sparring good for several reasons. Even though Real Tai Chi fighting strategy is very different from common sparring, it's still good to learn how to apply it on those highly mobile jumping and dancing people as well. And of course, it's good to learn how it feels to hit and punch someone, as well getting used to how it feels to actually get hit with punches, kicks and how it feels to be taken down to the floor. Those very basic things.
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