Set sparring

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

  1. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I adore TKD (both ITF and WTF) but even I accept that step sparring is useless.
  2. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Timing distance leverage, angles, etc are the very basics of any fighting system, if you teach them incorrectly because you are teaching it to beginners, then when do you start teaching them correctly?
    That argument makes no sense to me? Otherwise you then have to teach them correctly and try to undo all the damage you just did
  3. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    I agree that sometimes the extreme basics of a motion, like which arm goes where, have to be taught in an unrealistic context. The question is why anyone is doing it longer than ten minutes.
  4. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Of course. I was just musing on the nature of stasis and change in martial arts really.
    How or why such obviously flawed training stays in a style.
    I stopped doing TKD because of such things as step sparring and the obvious holes in the training. I got back into it recently for a variety of reasons (some of which aren't even related directly to me).
    In the intervening years there has been so much development in the realms of application of karate/TKD movements (Abernethy, Anslow etc).
    I'm just some numpty interested in martial arts and even I can see the flaws in step sparring by looking at these developments and realising there's a better way. A better way of applying or using TKD techniques that set sparring doesn't come close to addressing.
  5. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Okay, that changes the argument entirely. If the techniques being taught are wrong in themselves then the excercise is worse than useless.
  6. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Its not new though is it, in the 60s full contact karate fighting showed that low hand stance, doing movements from the hips and not holding a tight high guard was counter productive to real fighting, and yet……

    In the 90s the early UFCs showed what happened to arts that didn’t spar regularly with good protective equipment and did too much form and non-contact cooperative training,…and yet….

    Fact is large organisations aren’t interested in changing unless they have, to, and the fact TKD is doing so well means they aren’t being forced to change anything, it also shows that no matter what people say those that actually want to train realistically and hard are in the minority when it comes to martial arts and especially TMA
  7. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Just check out the videos posted in this thread, the distance is such that no one is going to get hit which teaches unrealistic distance and timing to both attacker and defender , the attacks as the TS pointed out are really unrealistic and held out there for you to do what you like which again is counter productive to timing and mostion learning
    And some of those are blackbelts doing the stuff so its not even just an introduction to the art
    Its next to useless for realistic self defence training, but as Ben pointed out the majority of the audience for TKD probably aren’t even that interested in realistic training
  8. Kurtka Jerker

    Kurtka Jerker Valued Member

    Wouldn't the emphasis be on correct distance, timing, angling, etc.?

    What appears in practice is consistently over-dramatic poses, rigid timing and exaggerated movement to the point that it precludes practice of these basic attributes. The timing and distance are consistently far isolated from what you'd see in live movement and angling seems to be an alien concept. Even the techniques themselves are awful more often than not when it comes to these fundamentals they supposedly are designed to teach.

    Kata based practice can be done well; however it almost never is and doubly so when it comes to rigidly practiced imitations found in many karate, TKD and gendai JJ schools. The emphasis on how the performance looks overshadows all else and you end up with five kata to memorize and regurgitate per belt. The details they were meant to convey end up not getting taught at all and in a few generations you have absolute abstraction in your training.
  9. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    That's how it feels. It's been that long since I last did them I can't remember the sequences but I can still (sport) spar fairly well and do the individual techniques themselves.
    If I wanted to introduce sport sparring in a set or basic way for beginners I'd use actual sport combinations (jab/cross, cross/skip turning kick, etc etc), delivered with similar energy and distancing as in actual sparring (but with lower intensity that can be progressively ramped up) with high percentage defences and counters (parries, footwork, covers, etc).
    If I wanted to show how more traditional TKD techniques can be used in a real fight I'd be drawing from Iain Abernethy's and Stuart Anslow's work and tie them into the pattern progression and HAOV.

    While it would take some work the powers that be have the power to do that sort of change. Teach it first at black belt sessions, gradually introduce them for gradings in a years time (so there's time to learn them) and then trickle that down through the grades.
    You could overhaul the set sparring across the whole association in a couple of years IMHO.
  10. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    How can it teach distance, if the people involved in the step sparring are so far apart when they do their technique that they are no threat to each other. If it was just one isolated video then I can be more supportive but when a large percentage show the same oddly exaggerated distance how is that productive? I mean look at some of the defenses on the video, why on earth is he doing the "block"/defense to the guys wrist? Seriously that punch was no threat.

    Secondly I was taught that cross body parrying is a no no, so why do so many step sparrings contain similar movements?
  11. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I've never done TKD, so my question was purely out of curiosity. And that is also the reason why I didn't study the videos which were posted, because I honestly don't know how representative they are of actual TKD step-sparring in practise.

    My question was really more of a general one about step sparring in principle, rather than a critique of any particular technique.
  12. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Were you taught this as a principle of tykwando in particular or as a wider principle for fighting?
  13. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Valued Member

    If you only want combat type realism don't waste time with a martial art.
  14. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    I think one problem is that most people don't actually like hitting each other. In addition people are conditioned not to invade other peoples spaces. So if the instructor doesn't keep an eye on it students can start lining up at a comfortable distance away from each other.

    This is why its always good to have a "thumper" in the group, someone who just doesn't mind the social conventions. It helps to keep people on their toes.
  15. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Yeah! Skip the arts and go straight for the pit with the broken glass and the snakes.
  16. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Context is everything. Teaching technique is easy, teaching context is very difficult.
  17. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Nah that's a cop out. You can still do a martial art and make it realistic for combat while still getting all the other benefits of doing that martial art.
    You could make the set sparring actually fit for purpose pretty easily and lose nothing of the "art" and only gain benefits (students and black belts that can actually utilise what they are learning for example).
    I think TKD has massive potential IF all the elements and historical influences are brought together as a cohesive whole rather than the many headed chimaera, with each head trying to do a different thing, it can so often be.
    It's not a binary choice between "utterly unrealistic and anchronistic drills" on one side and "all out combat" on the other.
  18. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Valued Member

    It's not a cop out. You miss the point.
    The first problem with this discussion is that it is impossible to have a meaningful discourse unless the participants agree on how terms are defined. We would have to agree on how the term "Martial Art" is defined. Most likely an impossible task.

    What step sparring is, or is not is defined by the particular art. You believe it's sole purpose should be as preparation for Sport or combat. If you only want to prepare for sport or Combat why waste time with an art. who needs patterns, jumping kicks etc. A couple of the videos show ITF Step sparring. It is defined as a formal exercise, like patterns with a narrowly defined purpose. Patterns are solo practice. Patterns are but one element of the "Cycle of TKD" as is sparring and Set Sparring is but a part of the Sparring part.

    3 Step is taught to beginning students, typically white and Yellow belts to teach Blocking distance. 2 step / part sparring is taught to next level to teach defense and counters against combined Hand / foot or foot / hand techniques. The next level is 1 step used to demonstrate the maxim attributed to Funakoshi and used By General Choi "1 technique for victory" although some says this is a mis-characterization from the translations which more accurately would be 1 opportunity for victory. Then you have free sparring which is used for whatever purpose the system dictates.

    However the set sparring allows use of techniques considered "Illegal" for competition. Now with that lengthy diatribe trying to explain how Step sparring is but a small piece in the puzzle, as a formal exercise it allows demonstration and practice of the more athletic and beautiful techniques of the art which may not be the most practical for combat or sport. But that is part of what makes the art.

    For those who like to tailor "Step Sparring" to target sport or combat, there is nothing to prevent them from doing that as well. We do it, but to differentiate it from the formal exercise I call it Street Step sparring. The attacker attacks and defender, Blocks/ dodges / parries / and counters to finish. No formal parameters. The parameters are efficiency and practicality. We use both striking and grappling modalities.
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    I like 'step sparring' at the low level (white and yellow belts).

    In the past, I have started white belts off with the whole 'deep stance, low block, ki-hap, step punch' formality thing that is so popular. Why? Because for brand new students, this lets them know where everything goes and exactly what they should be doing. If they are given too many options on what to do, they just overload. At white belt, they work their basic blocks and follow ups with this method (and it is just 'one step'... only defending against a right punch.

    At yellow belt, we add a few more options, and students leanr to transition from the 'deep front stance attacks' to a more realistic 'fighting stance' and the lunge punch thing turns into a realistic punch. As it goes on, the attacks can incorporate circular punches as well. Three step is used to create a chain of attacks and two step is used to build up defense against the left hand attack. Once students can deal with them under very controlled situations, it NEEDS to be opened up to a more free-style 'sparring' rule set.

    Honestly, by the end of yellow belt, I drop the formal 'step sparring' model and shift it into more of a using your TKD tools against a striking attack (first punches, then kicks).

    Realistically, once they have the basics down, they should be transitioning their footwork/attacks/parries/etc into application against an opponent using more of the TKD ruleset in attacking.
  20. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    Every teacher I have learned from, mma and boxing and the like, has all told me never to cross body parry, as it over exposes one side of the body. Say you have a shot coming to your left, so your right hand comes across to parry it, well your entire right side is exposed. So I was taught never to do it. So I see it as only a invitation to danger.

    Earl, how can step sparring teach anything if the participants are so far apart that they wont hit each other? Secondly look at the defenses offered in those videos, you would never ever see them done in any form of free sparring or a real fight so why are they in the step sparring?
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015

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