The Importance of Sparring and Tournaments

The Importance of Sparring and Tournaments
07 Apr 2021

For the past year, due to the pandemic, we have had neither sparring nor tournaments.  We have been able to teach technique, combinations, non-partnering one-step sparring, and forms.  Students have received life skills such as focus/concentration, respect, self-control, and perseverance.  But new students have not experienced the full benefit of martial arts training.  Students who were with us from before the pandemic have not exercised the full benefit of martial arts training in a year.

What we have been doing for the past year has been good, but not great.  Grand Master and I are very passionate about teaching Taekwondo and we both come from a history of sparring and tournament competition.  For us, it’s been like teaching with one hand tied behind our backs.  Let me explain how sparring and tournament competition takes our students from where they are now to where they can be.

Sparring is application.

Take all of the techniques and combinations we have been teaching and put them to use against an opponent.  Kicking, blocking, and punching, moving, side-stepping, acting, and reacting.  It’s a game-changer! It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s challenging.  I always use the metaphor of a person playing a team sport and going to practice all the time but never getting to play an actual game.  The students need to be able to apply the skills they are learning.  I have one student who started over the summer when we were teaching in the park whose father wanted to spar around at home.

The student had no idea how to apply what he had learned from forms and combinations into live-action.

They brought this to my attention and I happily began teaching sparring basics to him within the realm of CDC safety protocol – meaning it was just the student and myself with masks on and he was kicking and striking a pad or blocking a focus mitt.  Still not the same.

Tournament competition is the next level.

Taking the sparring experience from within the studio (against fellow students) and facing an unknown opponent, or an opponent from another studio.  This scenario makes the student think faster, act faster, and recall techniques and drills from class, and combinations that may have worked in sparring sessions at the home studio and apply them against someone from another studio doing the same thing.  It is different from team sports because it is a singular activity. The student against other students competing in forms, and the one-on-one competition in sparring.

We don’t know when tournaments will begin again, but judging by today’s news, if enough people get vaccinated and we stay careful, and the numbers continue to decline, maybe we can get back to it by June! (Fingers crossed and wishfully thinking!)

But what is the bigger picture here?  What can sparring and tournament competition do to help a student reach the next level?

It INCREASES CONFIDENCE.  It INCREASES PHYSICAL FITNESS. It INCREASES MARTIAL ARTS ABILITY.  It INCREASES BODY AND MIND CONNECTION.  It INCREASES FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION.  It TEACHES STUDENTS TO SET GOALS AND WORK FOR THEM.  It TEACHES THEM TO NOT QUIT WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH.  It TEACHES THEM THAT THEY EITHER WIN OR LEARN (not win or lose). It takes all of these positive attributes and puts them inside the body and mind of the martial arts student who then takes them out into real life.  They become more confident people, more fit people, more aware people.  And who doesn’t want that for themselves or their child?

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Call us today to get started (916) 686-3478.

Our studio, Ajay’s Karate, is a traditional Taekwondo school teaching the very best in technique along with values that our students will carry with them throughout their lifetime. We are family-owned, serving the Sacramento and Elk Grove areas since 1981.

By Master Lydia Ajay and Co-Owner of Ajay’s Karate, Elk Grove, California.

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