Monday, December 21, 2009

First Point

A note on point sparring...

Anyone that knows anything about point sparring in the martial arts is more for sport than it is for actual self-defense.

First of all; it has rules. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that anything goes in a real fight. Then there's the rules themselves: only light contact permitted; only specific target areas are allowed to be hit; only certain techniques can be used for striking and kicking; protective gear must be worn (some exceptions apply depending on the style); and the list goes on. As my original instructor once told me, while point sparring does have its uses, it's NOT real fighting; it's more like fencing in which you maneuver to get the quickest and clearest shot on your opponent.

Fast forward to nearly 10 years since I first heard that statement from that instructor, I'm suddenly having a revelation and realizing that there is one very important thing learned in point sparring that is probably the 2nd most important rule to a real fight (in case you're wondering, the 1st one is to do whatever possible to avoid the fight in the first place). Almost every time he's conducting sparring sessions in class, my current instructor is always saying to "be fast, be first, and make it clear," which brings us to that 2nd rule: strike fast, strike first, and strike decisively.

To make the correlation, in point sparring, the first to strike and strike decisively is usually the one that scores the point. In a real fight, when the fight itself becomes imminent, the first to act decisively is usually the one that comes out on top. Unfortunately in too many cases it's the attacker and not the victim that acts first and is therefore the victor more often than not.

The other important correlation from point sparring to real fighting lies here: once you move in to score, do so and then get out of there, mainly to avoid being scored upon yourself, and also to regroup and plan for the next attack. On the street, ideally by striking fast, first and decisively (side note: by "decisively" I mean striking in a target area or such a manner that ends the fight immediately) the fight should be over; if for some reason it's not, hopefully it did enough to buy time to escape, or if escape is not possible, to reassess the situation to try again.

And people say that sparring has nothing to do with real fighting...

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