Set sparring

Discussion in 'Tae Kwon Do' started by Smitfire, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I've recently got back into TKD and I'm just slightly baffled as to why set sparring (3 and 2 step) is still something that's required. After all these years it should be apparent that they are deeply flawed drills right?
    I don't think they are good for much and can actually be counter productive. For example...

    They don't prepare you for sport rules sparring OR a real fight.
    2 step in particular has someone attacking in a way that doesn't match a street attacker (spinning kicks) OR a TKD competitor (throat grabs, groin kicks). 2 step isn't one thing or the other.
    They are structured as TKD techniques against TKD techniques (something the original techniques weren't designed for).
    Given developments in bunkai and pattern application training that have happened recently these formats don't actually use the techniques in anything like a realistic or functional way.

    Can anyone make a case for set sparring? Why do it?

    I think it's now basically a fairly useless historical legacy founded on a poor understanding of the techniques of okinawan Karate (via Japanese Karate).

    TKD would be all the better if set sparring was scrapped and grade specific drills introduced that actually used the techniques in the patterns to counter actual realistic attacks and then also drills that introduce TKD sport fighting in a structured way that replicates the movement and energy of that environment.

    One step sparring I can just about get behind (to a point) but that should be upgraded (IMHO) to include the feeder throwing haymakers, hook punches, grabbing, headbutts and other HAOV.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  2. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    It's surely not a big enough part of your class to worry that much about.
  3. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Aside from this being a discussion forum and I'm trying to prompt some discussion...we spent a good 20 minutes on it last night.
    That's repeated across countless dojangs across the UK/World by countless people.
    If I were in a position of authority in a major TKD association the set sparring would be one of the first things I'd overhaul.
    Given the rise of actual realistic pattern applications, knowledge of HAOV I wonder if that overhaul will ever happen?
    Is it just inertia? Adherence to tradition? Too much of a ball ache to implement? To much of an admission of fallability on the part of high grades?
  4. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    It's complicated. Yes I would agree that 20 minutes is far too much time to spend on something so unimportant.
    Inertia is exactly what it is, but it's not "just". The inertia is complicated. Firstly the massive orgs that comprise the TKD community make major structural changes difficult. Standardisation is one of TKD's big selling points, and schools gain perceived legitimacy from said standardisation. Now yes, if I was teaching TKD then the drilling would be JWT meets Ian Abernathy, and the sparring format would be K1 or Daido Juku, but I would accept that this would likely mean not being a participating member in a big TKD org, and you'd have issues around dan gradings. I'd proabably have to add some cheesy qualifier to the name as well, "combat TKD" or some such. I've left my parent org before and it's emotionally trying.
    Also TKD has a market, and I'd suggest that the market doesn't necessarily want that.
  5. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    I make a personal distinction between drills, techniques, and application. A drill takes a principle, theory or part of an application and works on developing an understanding of it. A technique takes an application and works on how to apply it with little or no resistance. The purpose of the technique is to supply the understanding necessary to know what you are trying to achieve in the application. An application is when you take the understanding gained in drills and techniques and practice applying them in simulated "real world" conditions. For me set sparring falls under the category of technique. It is a step on the way to learning application. However it should not be confused with application.
  6. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    If it worked like that then the martial arts would be a different beast.

    I think its a systemic flaw inTKD training. But you knew that going back though right?
  7. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    Set sparring has the benefit of being a kind of training which also kinda works as easy choreography for pretty demo material (because an audience can only watch so much poomsae and kicking flappy paddles/inanimate wooden boards).
  8. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Pardon my ignorance, but could someone tell me what set sparring is? Is it another term for point sparring or something else?
  9. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    What is step sparring?
  10. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    An embarrassment ;)
  11. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    [ame=""]ITF TKD - 3step sparring no.1~10 - Korea.wmv - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=""]2 Step Sparring - Ibo Matsogi - Traditional ITF Taekwon-do - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=""]Black belt Taekwondo Advanced One step sparring. - YouTube[/ame]
  12. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Well I do similar but in a more realistic manner.
  13. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Same. But the devil is in the detail (the timing energy and motion). In fact I've done both. One is not the other.
  14. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    This is one of those things about TKD I find confusing. They claim to go out of their way to not look and be Japanese, yet they kept all of the Japanese training methodology. I wonder what TKD and indeed TSD and its off shoots would be like if they kept all the same techniques but trained them the way the FMA does or like mma does. From real fighting stances, with real energy and flow.

    One of the things I noticed that is a HUGE drawback of step sparring is lack of repetition. When I took the free class at a TKD place, we spent about 10minutes maybe a bit more, on it and during that whole time each person got maybe 6 run through's one of the step sparring. It just feels like with the over formality of it, the constant needing to signal and yell, and step back in to low block, it takes up valuable repetition time.

    Edit to add, in those videos, why on earth are they so far away from each other? I see no point in that. No one would have hit anyone even if the defender stood still.
  15. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Surely you knew what you were getting back into though? I mean you have trained it before and you know its not going to change its too big an art and too organised?

    IF you are looking for realistic training then not being funny why did you head back to TKD? I mean patterns, limited rules sparring and 1 and 2 step work isn’t the best way to train realistically, if you aren’t interested in realistic training then it shouldn’t really bother you that much

    As for the drill yes its counterproductive for learning to actually fight, the attacks as you say are unrealistic, the distance is also unrealistic, as is the amount of power used and so on but like I said if it was realistic training you were looking for why head back to TKD?
  16. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I'm a bit puzzled by some of the comments here.

    Surely 'step sparring' isn't meant to be 'realistic'? My understanding always was that it was a way of teaching some very basic things such as distance. It bears no relation to 'sparring' in the way that we usually use the word. But I wonder if the word 'sparring' is perhaps confusing people?
  17. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Shouldn't everything be taught realistically within context?
  18. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Call it 1 step practise if you like, but the issues are still the same

    If its teaching things like distance its doing a rap job as every clip out there and even when I did the stuff is at a distance that the techniques don’t land in, in those clips posted the defender wouldn’t actually have to move and he still wouldn’t get hit

    Its also so unrealistic its not even funny, how many people step in with a punch and hold it out there for you to do what you like with it for example
    As a practise tool to learn how to actually fight or to instill attributes that will aid in a fight calling it suboptimal is being kind, but as a teaching tool to teach people TKD for TKD gardening’s it works
  19. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    The idea of these as drills to teach specific elements like timing, distance, leverage, etc. would hold some water if they were actually practiced that way. You'd see realistic distances, angles and timing and ther'd be a focus on actually teaching the element in question.

    Instead it's practiced almost exclusively as a shallow visual performance to be memorized in rote and regurgitated on command. It's very gratifying to do something so simple, mindless and unthreatening and imagine that it's making you better, or that it displays the prowess you've already gained through repeating other meaningless and abstract poses and gestures.
    This is why non-resistant training is so popular. Nobody is getting in the way of your cool moves, and that's what it's really about, isn't it?
  20. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    But isn't the point that you have to begin with the very basics before you can start to refine them and build on them? Obviously if you are still doing the same thing forever then you have not made any progress, but surely everyone has to start at the very beginning.

    I may be misunderstanding the purpose of 'step sparring', but I was under the impression that it is a rote learning excercise for complete beginners.

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