Sparring and Taijutsu:

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by zenpokaiten, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. zenpokaiten

    zenpokaiten Valued Member

    Ok I have to ask this question after reading one of the posts about how sparring can hinder your taijutsu development. Do some of you feel that we should spar in order to better our taijutsu? Now I understand it would have to be toned down a bit, and certain strikes would not be allowed, but remember sparring is freindly and you are not always trying to kill each other out there. You are working on your distancing, and timing for the most part. I know for myself it helps me out! Sometimes you question if certain things can be used such as shizen no kamae when facing someone that has martial arts experience. Or just how effective taisabaki is when someone skilled is throwing punches and kicks at you. How is a person going to get better if there training partner is always coming from ichimonji no kamae and allowing you to do techniques such as jodan uke or ganseki otoshi on them? Some of the techniques in the Kihon Happo are much harder to utilize when that person you are facing knows a bit about locks and throws. Dont rip me a new bunghole for asking. I am just wondering how sparring can hinder your development in taijutsu? I am not talking about randori either.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2006
  2. xplasma

    xplasma Banned Banned

    Sparring is necessary in any art to learn to apply technique on a fully resistant partner that is trying to do the same to you.

    The end.
  3. hatsie

    hatsie Active Member Supporter

    if they don't know what you are going to do, and can't feel it either, what is it they are resisting?(fully)

    sparring is great for a good cardio work out and to test your strength.

    its fun too.
  4. DJC

    DJC Valued Member

    In my limited experience of sparring, more often than not, it turns into a competitive match between dojo mates and ends up looking like a very poor form of boxing and Judo (if it ever gets to grappling stage, which it hardly ever does). Putting on the headguard and gloves and going for it obviously does not resemble an actual encounter, but I agree with Hatsie - sometimes it is fun!

    When people have been quizzed at the end of a sparring session and were asked what they had learned, then answer invariably was 'I really need to get fit', or such like. I've personally never heard of anyone saying that they have gained any real meaningful benefits other than the 'stress response' aspect which can be covered off during Randori, which imho is very useful indeed.

    Anyway - the sparring vs no sparring debate in Taijutsu can never reach an amicable conclusion. There are proponents from either side who make a good job of defending their positions. My position is that this type of specifity training should be the staple of any taijutsu lesson. Just my opinion though..........

  5. Ikken Hisatsu

    Ikken Hisatsu New Member

    i guess thats an indication of how well people at your dojo actually use their ninjitsu when faecal matter hits fan

    thats odd. ive heard "i need to get fit" sometimes, usually from newbies. what i usually see is someone will get caught with a technique and then they will get the problem explained to them either by their opponent or by someone with more experience who is watching. i fought with an very good boxer a few months back and he floored me twice with bodyshots. he showed me where i was going wrong and gave me good advice, and when we sparred again later he could not floor me. THIS is what sparring should mostly be about. you cant learn something like that without sparring.

    maybe so but it makes for interesting discussion :D

    there are techniques in muay thai that are too deadly to spar with. it is legal to spike elbows into the back of someones neck, yet we dont exactly rip those out during training. we also dont generally slam knees into peoples faces, yet in the ring when the pressure is on people still manage to do it. the excuse of "well you cant use teh deadly moves so theres no point" is a cop out as far as im concerned.
  6. Cuchulain

    Cuchulain Valued Member

    I use some limited kinds of sparring and randori in my dojo, for a number of reasons, but only with dan grades and not very often. It's simply one useful tool in the toolbox, but it's not the holy grail.

    Most of the time, the urge people feel to get involved in sparring is that it allows them to feel potent and to actually fight, as they see it. I don't care about that though. The reason I sometimes do it is that it's useful to get crowded, harrassed, winded and generally pushed a bit while trying to function in that environment. I also think it's useful to put gloves on and get hit in the face in that kind of environment, not because I think this is a productive way to learn how to fight, but rather because it's usefull to test yourself in powering through that discomfort. It's also helpful to work with the artificial timing that occurs in that environment.

    I also use a kind of randori, which I will sometimes do with high level kyu grades is to get people to do adaptive flow drills looking for locks and pins, not from a competitive perspective, but just as a drill to work with taking limbs and strikes from angles that are a little different from the ones that happen when people are standing and starting from a position of both being ready. This tends to start out slow and then increase in speed and intensity depending on the ability of the people involved. There's no point in doing this drill, or the one above if you don't have basic skill to fall back on.

    Both these practices have serious drawbacks in my view, so we don't do them often enough to acquire bad habits. On the other hand, functioning in this environment gives people confidence in their ability to actually continue to apply taijutsu when being hit by someone who is trying to stop them from doing it. It's also fun and great for reminding you to do more fitness training.
  7. Nick Mandilas

    Nick Mandilas Resistance is an option..

    A good friend of mine practices MMA leaning towards the BJJ and Muay Thai styles...we spar together but even then in a slightly more controlled manner so that we can run through techniques and offer some resistance to each other to see what comes of our techniques when the pressure is on. We also get to guage timing, footwork etc whne up against a martial art that is different than your own. To tell the god's honest truth...we do it to show off our styles to each other, keep fit and have a good laugh.

    I can't say that I find sparring to make me a better fighter? Why would it? because I am learning to "go at it" hammer and tong? Rubbish...I've done this before in previous MA systems...1) warm up. 2) run 3)sit ups and push ups 4) run through a squillion punch/ kick / block drills all ending with KIA! then finally partner up and sparr...

    What did I learn from these sessions? To keep my guard up? Not guard was up through those thousands and thousands of kicks and punches all night kind of stayed up by itself...and from what I recall, I use to get taken down by the advanced guys that news all these extra little techniques...foot suddenly behind my own to trip me up, or I even remember a time a first danner actual did a spinning back kick that turned into a sweep in one very fluid motion...

    I cannot say that I learnt anything better there than now at my taijutsu class which is more like "controlled sparring" from start to finish. here I get to run through scenarios from start to finish, see where I am going wrong and improve on it, myself and my partner increasing the speed and force of the attack as we get better.

    Having tasted the two...I find the latter a far bettwer way to learn.

    At work, one of my designers trains in Muay Thai, he sometimes throws punches at me for a stir when we are outside having lunch..when a feel playful, I sidestep the punch give him a taste of genseki, just letting him go while his still standing but now off balance, rocking on his toes. Has anyone ever done this? You have to watch the facial expression of someone that has never experienced it before...really gobsmacked.
    Where is the sparring experience now? Here is someone that has not retaliated at your punch with the traditional block punch or block kick comeback. Instead they seem to walking off to the side and all the while you feel like you are being pulled, pushed in all directions...bah I bore with this debate even as I type because A) I know what we do and understand it effectiveness and B) I can already here those that don't want to believ quip up to debate me...

    Go ahead...unleash the hounds!!! ;)
    (I love being dramatic)
  8. Grimjack

    Grimjack Dangerous but not serious

    Which is why an ex- Japan kick boxing champion like Nagato sensei does not have sparring in his classes. :rolleyes:

    In all seriousness, if you do not do it properly you tend to develop bad habits that work well in the ring, but are bad for the street. The habits are just about as bad as the ones you can get from trying to learn from videos. If you learn from videos and spar, you will probably never get any good at anything Bujinkan related.
  9. Cuchulain

    Cuchulain Valued Member

    I'd be inclined to agree with this.
  10. Yama Tombo

    Yama Tombo Valued Member

    Strikes can be controlled in sparring (like sanshin) and grappling, that are used for restraint, at high speeds. Alot of maneuvers in ninjutsu can be used in sparring, though we would be practicing restraint. Practicing restraints ruins the intent, thus taking away from taijutsu.

    There is also a little physics aspect in taijutsu that is practice that can cause injury at high speeds. Like if an opponent falls and you have a hold of his arm; bring his eblow across your knee as he is falling, you'll end up breaking his elbow or dislocating his shoulder.

    Also, everyone moves at a different pace. If a person practices at a faster (that they are not ready for or used to) pace they might miss part and feeling for the technique. Though, we also practice flowing from technique to technique if we mess up.

    I'm not saying sparring is evil. Light and occasional sparring is fine, I think. It helps challenges me to look for potential ways to grab an opponent or strike them. Though, I wouldn't rely on sparring too much, because most the reason stated in this thread already.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2006
  11. SilentNightfall

    SilentNightfall Eien no Ninja

    I will say just one thing about this because it's been rehashed over and over and over again on this board and every other and I, quite frankly, am sick of it coming up. First of all, I will say that a bit of randori never hurt anyone, but I will say that not even that is a part of any shihan's class that I have seen thus far here in Japan. Think there might be a reason for this? Hmm...

    Now, everytime this topic comes up and the people who understand how this art works tell why sparring is not integral to learning this art, we get people in MMA or who haven't studied the art for all that long say that it has helped them immensely with their taijutsu. Unfortunately, this portion of the forum is for taijutsu. We talk about how to get good at taijutsu and that is rarely something that is comprehended by MMA guys. Now, I am not concerned with what impression our not sparring gives to MMA guys or how much they question the effectiveness of our art. If I am going to go out and put myself in an environment where I want to get as many shots in as possible, than maybe I'll spar, but since that is not my intention, I will not. I have had my fair share of sparring and thankfully have not partaken in any for quite some time now.

    I believe Nagato-sensei is right when he says that sparring ruins taijutsu. It took him 10 years to get rid of his bad habits. I was right there when he said that during his Sunday class when he said that last year. If you want to get good at taijutsu, you do it slow and controlled. You learn precision and accuracy and you can better feel exactly when you have a person's balance. If you have holes or openings when doing a technique, the uke can certainly point that out by having their fist nail your ribs or wherever to make you aware of your not protecting your vital points, but speed is not necessary. Remember, we are training the brain to react instinctively to a situation in a way that is most efficient and effective.

    Keep in mind that there is a reason why the shihan do not include sparring in their classes. If you want to get good at taijutsu, you don't spar. Period. But if you're bothered by MMA guys who question the effectiveness of our art and your level of bravery because we do not spar, well, don't study taijutsu. Period. If you want to spar, that's fine. I never minded people doing randori either. People can train however they choose in this art and that's because we have the freedom of choice. However, I will go the route of people who know better. When a kickboxing champion who is built like Nagato-sensei says that sparring will destroy your taijutsu, I am inclined to believe him. He left kickboxing to study this art years ago so he's familiar with sparring and its "benefits." Just my two cents. Not really concerned with what anyone else thinks about it. I'm over here and I hear the opinions of the shihan on a variety of things so I'm justified in what I believe, or so I think. Not going to bother to argue my point. If one of you can come over here and show that the shihan are wrong by attacking them and overcoming them after partaking in a fierce training regimen that involves a lot of sparring... Well then, maybe my opinion will change. Until then, I'm quite happy taking the words of my instructors to heart.
  12. Banpen Fugyo

    Banpen Fugyo 10000 Changes No Surprise

    [offtopic] Do the shihan speak fluent english? [/offtopic]
  13. SilentNightfall

    SilentNightfall Eien no Ninja

    Shiraishi-sensei does, and Nagato-sensei knows English, but still prefers to speak in Japanese and use a translator.
  14. Banpen Fugyo

    Banpen Fugyo 10000 Changes No Surprise

    Oh... k cool, thanks. Guess I still have a few more years of Nihongo studying to do...
  15. DJC

    DJC Valued Member

    I think Josh sums it up quite nicely. I believe it all comes down to a matter of trust in your teacher in that they are doing things the way Soke and the Shihan want us to train. And, as Grimjack says and supports, sparring done incorrectly breeds bad habits; this is unequivocally supported by Soke and the Japanese Shihan, especially Nagato Sensei who has experienced both sides of the argument. FWIW, I agree from what I have personally seen and experienced from a free format sparring pov.

    The caveat is that this is should not take away the value of sparring in other MA! Sometimes it is hard to reconcile that we're not in the same game and arguments for sparring are sometimes very compelling. Ikken Hisatsu's post above is a typical well thought out example.

    From our Taijutsu perspective, randori seems to have all of the benefits of sparring, but very few negatives if it is done in the right manner as it seems to support and encourage our learning process.

  16. bencole

    bencole Valued Member

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Why is it that people who are in Japan for any length of time start sounding alike on issues such as these? :rolleyes:

    In my humble opinion, sparring will slow your progress in our art. Don't do it.

    These days, the chances of you being in a room training with one of the Shihan without someone who can do translation is next to zero. The translators who have been in Japan a number of years bring in information and insights from previous practices and lessons. You do not need to learn Japanese to train there. (Though I am HUGE fan of those who do take up Japanese in order to better their understanding of the art!)

    Language learners unite! :D

  17. groundcontrolba

    groundcontrolba Banned Banned

    This discussion is an argument about learning to swim without getting into the water.Sparring is not fighting but its close enough to show you holes in your game without you getting your head bashed in.Is sparring the most important aspect? Perhaps not but it is near the top of the list.
  18. SilentNightfall

    SilentNightfall Eien no Ninja

    Until you can say you've trained in our art, you really cannot say anything as far as what it takes to get good at taijutsu. Sparring may be at the top of the list for those that are in arts that involve competition. If that is your thing, then you probably shouldn't be learning taijutsu, which I assume you don't at the present moment anyway. If people are bothered by the fact that we don't spar, they don't have to do our art. Simple as that. But don't come into our discussion forum and tell us how to get good at our art. -Our- art has survived over 1,000 years on the battlefields of Japan. Thus, one would assume that gettingt good at our art would imply getting good at combat. So when the heads of our art tell us that sparring will hinder us at getting good at taijutsu, why should we spar? These gentlemen have incredible skill. It still amazes me that people who are in our art advocate how important sparring is but also talk up Soke like he's the greatest martial artist ever. It's like an oxymoron. If we're all trying to learn Soke's budo, then why do we feel the need to train in a way that differs from how he trains and teaches?

    Did Soke ever do sparring with his Shihan throughout all the years of teaching them? Not as far as I've heard, and I would venture to guess not given Nagato-sensei's comments. Thus, if a man like Nagato-sensei is as good as he is now, and said that his sparring hindered his learning of taijutsu, I'm inclined to steer away from sparring. I'm looking to get good at taijutsu and all that it encompasses. I'm not looking to get good at sparring and competition. Sure this means that when my karate friends ask me to spar with them it makes me seem unconfident when I decline, but I'm not going to claim that it's because under such circumstances our techniques could easily injure the person. While that may be true, I simply offer the fact that I do not want to hinder the little growth I've achieved thus far in training in Soke's Budo.

    Can we move on now?
  19. groundcontrolba

    groundcontrolba Banned Banned

    Allow me to retort.If you want to learn this art for some spiritual enlightenment exercise or just because you think its fun well go ahead and do it your way. If you plan on using this on anyone outside your training hall well you are in for a rude awakening if you dont spar.Ive rolled with a few practitioners of your art and you can tell the difference between the ones that dont spar and the ones that do.
  20. Cuchulain

    Cuchulain Valued Member

    Hmm. I feel the need to qualify what I have written in this thread because it's taken a fairly judgemental turn. I think that sparring is a helpful tool - not the defining feature of a belief system. I have never done it in Japan, but I did do it when I first started training in the 1980s and the reason I occasionally do it now is that it was helpful to me when I first tried it and I'd like to make that available to people who train with me.

    I think it can hold people back and be counterproductive if they have not trained for long enough to have a good grounding in the basics and are smart enough to know what the purpose of the exercise is.

    Most Bujinkan teachers I know have dan grades in other arts, including all the Japanese shihan, and as a result lots of other experience to draw on in terms of sparring and competitive fighting. With this experience, most of them seem to feel that it's not neccesary to get involved in sparring and that it can create perspective problems for people.

    I very occasionally use sparring as a tool, however, I'm not hung up on it, don't preach to others about it, am not over awed by it and am equally not afraid of it. We probably do it a couple of times a year in my dojo. One final point . . .

    I think they did actually. I have heard of more than a few anacdotal stories about this, and actually at one point saw some video footage of Soke leading some randori. I also know of one Japanese shihan who arranged matches for one of his students with practitioners of other martial arts. Soke also had a 4th dan in kodokan judo at one point and you don't get a rank like that without lots and lots of sparring. Granted, it's a different art, but I can easily see why he would have no need to do that anymore.

    Absolutes can sometimes be helpful and sometimes not. Sparring isn't done anymore, at least in wide open view, but that doesn't mean it's not helpful at a certain stage. This is my opinion only, and could be flawed. However, it seems to work fine for me, and it's helpful if people wearing black belts in the Bujinkan can actually take a shot to the jaw without passing out in shock. It's obviously better if they don't get hit in the first place, but given that the best laid plans sometimes go wrong, this is important.

    Also . . .

    Did he say this to you? I don't know Nagato Sensei very well, but I've certainly trained with him more than a few times. I respect him enormously, and he's been very kind to me in the past. I would be surprised if he actually used those words. I read an article where he said that weight training hindered his learning of taijutsu and I've also heard him say that sparring isn't neccesary to being good at taijutsu, but these are not the same things that you've written.

    My purpose in this is to point out that we train in a martial art, not a belief system. Not only is it a natural thing that not everyone is going to agree with each other, it's actually a good thing. While we have our differences, we are united in our interest in what Hatsumi Sensei teaches.

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