Sparring: What is it?
Sparring is a common word and practice among martial artists or fighters (particularly for MMA), but to an outsider it might just look like fighting. So what is it? Is it fighting? Isn’t that dangerous? Why do it?
Buffalo, New York is no stranger to fighting and the culture that surrounds it, although it wasn’t until 2016 that we finally allowed Mixed Martial Arts fights to be held here after a 20 year ban. We have had some great boxers and MMA fighters come from the area.
Still there are those that don’t know what sparring is, and many who see a martial art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or the other two aforementioned sports as just fighting. We hear it all the time from friends and family that don’t practice, “Why do you do that? What’s the point of fighting?” etc, etc, etc.
Sparring by definition refers directly to boxing, “make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training.”
Key phrase right there, is that it is a form of training. So yes, it is, in a way, fighting. However it is more of a simulation of sorts that mitigates and reduces the risk of injury, while still helping a practitioner develop the skills they need, and conditioning necessary to engage in a real fight.
So why do we do it?
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we end almost every class with “rolling”, our word for sparring. The founders of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu realized it wasn’t simply enough to practice techniques, you also needed to be able to apply them in real, live context.
Rolling is a great way to take the techniques you learned, and piece them together into the whole system, while learning to defend yourself from very real threats. One of the benefits of Bjj is that since there is no striking, such as in boxing or MMA, it is much easier to keep someone from getting hurt.
Applying an arm lock, or choke stops when the opponent gives up, or “taps” out, typically before any permanent damage is done. This is one of the reasons many believe Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to be one of the most effective and practical forms of self defense, due to the ability to train it at near 100% intensity, while keeping yourself healthy. It prepares its practitioners better for a real life situation.
Sparring is nothing to be afraid of, especially at an academy like Lake Effect Martial Arts where all the students learn to practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with control and mindfulness, not just of themselves but of their training partner as well.
Excel in an area of Mixed Martial Arts before embracing the entity of Mixed Martial Arts.
For more on the subject of sparring or “rolling”……https://www.jiujitsutimes.com/3-bad-rolling-habits/
Author: Tom J Brady