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Sparring equals stress testing
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Not to open another can of worms again but I’d like to submit the following as different perspective on the advantage of sparring:

I believe that to get an honest assessment on whether or not sparring is a valuable training tool one only need look at the military for a positive example.

I’ll use the Marine Corp/Navy team as an example:

In the past the Navy has used the Marine Corp NCO’s as instructors for it’s physical security needs. They train Navy personnel as auxiliary security force members to stand post at the gates of Naval installations . Part of that qualification is shooting a rifle/pistol/shotgun on a firing range. They become familiar with the operation of the weapon, have the principals of good marksmanship drilled into them, they practice, and finally go out and shoot to qualify. What are they doing? Punching paper. There is no guarantee that they will be able to hit the target when the sh** hits the fan. (adrenaline/exhaustion/ fear/weather conditions, are all contributing factors) So the Marine Corp in it’s infinite wisdom, of promoting a warrior mind-set implements what is called a PWC, or practical weapons course. Now the young sailor having to contend with hitting the target, has to do so with stress involved. Said stress is implemented by ministrations of a senior NCO in the form of burn out physical training, yelling, running, and/or physical contact – in short you run and do p.t. all the while getting yelled at by a sergeant not to bleeping miss the bleeping target! You then get up make your weapon ready and run (not walk) to the first firing position which is at a undetermined range which you will have to deal with in uncomfortable position (prone or kneeling which is always in gravel or sand with sticker burrs), usually with a barrier of some kind involved (wall/widow sill/door frame), and still have to hit the target, then go onto the next station and so on until you are finished. Did I mention that the silhouette may or may not have a 2 inch diameter circle on it that you have to hit with two rounds at each station or you do the whole thing over again?

What does all this accomplish? The sailor is confident at the end of the session that they can employ the skills that have been taught and that they have drilled with and without stress involved which increases their chance of survival.

What does this have to do with sparring?

Well you can at slow speeds; learn the fundamentals, drill them, learn technique, and drill that; but unless you try to do it with stress involved and a unwilling uke – you won’t know if what you have learned will hold up when the sh** hits the fan.

That’s where sparring comes in; you square off against someone who isn’t going to “give” you the technique.
That person is not only going to resist you; but they are going to be doing their best to get the better of you while resisting. (STRESS = striking/grabbing/choking/ joint manipulation with an increased heart rate and copius amounts sweat/adrenaline)

The idea is to see whether or not you can function with stress applied, which in my mind, is the advantage of sparring.

Thoughts/opinions/critisims? Thanks for your time.


~ Rob Acox

Posted on: 2005/9/29 3:27
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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What you are talking about are exercises designed to enhance weapon proficiency and confidence. Sparring would be paintball. I gather that there is something about the activity of paintball(sparring) that makes it at the very least, not an optimal way to train their soldiers. There are some very smart people in the military and they are very good at what they do. They've thought of it. The only times I have heard of military doing paintball are when they are involved in tournaments or as a rare exercise, not designed for training. Any military people here?

The exercise you have written about would be similar to doing the sanshin while someone is screaming at you/ bothering you a whole bunch. That may not be a bad idea.

I wonder why I haven't heard of sparring at the hombu...

I have my own ideas as to why sparring is not an ideal way to train: I competed in TaeKwonDo for eight years. The only qualified evidence that it may not be the best training is that the best don't do it or advocate it.

I could be totally wrong. Do they spar at the hombu?

Posted on: 2005/9/29 4:07
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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Rob,

The military exercise as you described it does not seem like sparring. Now I do agree that training where the intensity is increased is necessary. There must be an increase in intensity in a way that does not cause the technique to break down into a senseless ego brawl between students. There are ways to train intensity within the Bujinkan kata which can replace sparring.

A good example of this is the Gyokko Ryu kata. Take Koku and Renyo. You could cover both these Kata’s speed them up interchange the two. I tell those with whom I am training that Renyo is Koku gone bad. You make a mistake or your opponent is skilled and now you have to do something else. Taking two or three options, knowing that your opponent can not just be a “punching idiot” will add stress right there.

The problem that I find in my own training is as tori, I take advantage of the certainty of what the opponent is going to do. As uke I take advantage of being able to turn off my brain because after the original punch all that’s left is my ukemi. So to solve this problem if you give the uke more options you will get more realistic attacks (you are now doing something important) and tori will have to pay attention recognize the situation and make decisions not just do the same thing every time.

I have found this is a very effective alternative to full out sparring where the techniques that are practiced are not trained because the situation never came up. I have found that after years of sparring in Karate, I was still not prepared for the stress of a real fight. After my training in the Bujinkan when an altercation happened I was calm and correctly assessed the situation a direct result of these types of drills.

Posted on: 2005/9/29 4:17
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Merry-Go-Round
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Can I get the same horse I was on last time?



This is another good example of "circles" in our training.
We repeat the same ideas over and over again in regards to sparring.

I just hope this thread continues to stay positive unlike it’s many predecessors.


Posted on: 2005/9/29 4:29
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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Hi ya'll thanks for replying.
I am in the military and as a young sailor I went through what I mentioned above.
(don't ask me how long ago or I will show my age )

Anyway as far as shooting goes: theres the proper way to hold the weapon, stance, breathing, target aquisition, firing, and muzzle control. Yes? Now taken in the context of just qualifying a guy to shoot that particular weapon, just standing on the line and punching paper is more than enough to get the job done.
Now take that same guy put him on post at the main gate of Norfolk Naval station with a drugged up maniac running at him full tilt firing an AK-47 and all of the sudden just standing on the line punching paper doesn't seem to be enough. Yes? He would have to be able to react under stress.

Now take a guy put him in the dojo and teach him how to do, oh I dunno, oni kudaki. In the context of teaching him proper body alignment, hip placement, arm angle and so forth you'd put him with an unresisting uke so he would learn all how to apply all that.
Take that same guy and put him in a scenario where Mr. Angry pants has a fist full of his shirt and is doing his best to drive his teeth down his throat with his other fist and all of the sudden doing just the movement with an unresisting uke is not enough. He would have to be able to do it under stress.

Does this make better sense? This is what I am getting at: It can look as purty as a picture on the firing range qualifying as an expert, or in the dojo with an unwilling uke..... but it's another story entirely when the element of stress is added.


This is good, more input.


~ Rob Acox

Posted on: 2005/9/29 4:41
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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The first two responses (by Anton Phillips and Nate Hollum) do an excellent job of differentiating sparring and stress-testing. I have reffered some of the people I train with so they may read those responses and gain a better understanding of why we opt to use stress-testing instead of sport style sparring.

Thanks,
Jon

Posted on: 2005/9/29 4:54
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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"The first two responses (by Anton Phillips and Nate Hollum) do an excellent job of differentiating sparring and stress-testing."

Why does there have to be a differance between them?



"I have reffered some of the people I train with so they may read those responses and gain a better understanding of why we opt to use stress-testing instead of sport style sparring."

Who said anything about sport-style sparring?

Again I would like to reiterate that this is my opinion alone and am interested in if and why people agree or disagree with this point of view.



Please more input.


~ Rob Acox

Posted on: 2005/9/29 5:28
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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Rob,

sorry if I was unclear. I don not believe that sparring is the same as stress training. The exercise that you described I would consider stress training, I don’t think of that as a military equivalent to sparring. Having never served this is just a guess. I do believe that Nate and I both touched on this difference in our posts (Feel free to correct me Nate).

Hope that clarifies my thoughts/opinions.

Perhaps to get a better idea of what you are asking you could give us an example of what you would consider sparring? Perhaps you could describe how you would setup the sparring exercise. Would you have both individuals going after each other throwing blows and attempting locks? Is this a one sided exercise where one person throws on the pressure and the other deals with it, or are you trying to elevate the situation on both sides with no clear uke or tori?

Thanks,

Posted on: 2005/9/29 5:46
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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Once you set parameters for the altercation you're trying to replicate, in this case squaring off, your results are “proof” only in engagements that have those parameters. Since the real world is unpredictable, I see sparring mainly as a tool for developing attributes of speed, timing and other important things. That is ALL it is good for and it proves nothing unless the engagement on the street closely resembles it and in many cases experience has shown that the real world does NOT resemble that. What you're suggesting is, IMHO, a breeding ground for the mindset of symmetrical fighting, as opposed to assymetrical combat (the latter is what I've been taught being the preferable alternative, i.e. stacking the odds in your favour rather than slugging it out with someone to see whom is the toughest).


Tobias Goldstein

Posted on: 2005/9/29 6:23
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Re: Sparring equals stress testing
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The more you practice sparring, the less stress it involves..Usually its more fun than stressful... Sparring allows you to deal with changing attacks/defenses and with resistance, but not as much "Stress".
On the other hand, having some else yelling at you, striking at you with objects (shinai) and in other ways putting on pressure can create a stressful enviroment. You don't have to spar to get stress inoculation...Sparring serves other purposes and can be useful. In the first couple UFC's most of the guy that lost had sparring as a regular part of their training. Didn't help them. What creates the real fear and adrenaline ( a.k.a stress) is real intent. A slow attack can feel just as real as a fast one. I have had lots of guys in my training groups that can't handle constant intent in attacks, I have found that I have to purposely/consciously not use intent when teaching or they can't pick up what I am doing. They get flustered/ they freeze, etc.... I know most of you have felt what I am talking about, I think...
If you want to create that feeling in sparring, go to someone else's school and irritate them into a sparring match....Then you will have some stress, as you know they do not care for your well being..But, you can get hurt or hurt someone else..not really a good way to train I think..


Posted on: 2005/9/29 7:12
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