On another thread that got locked so fast I didn't have time to respond when I got home from work, this topic came up and the idea of "Aliveness" in training was brought up. I thought it'd be a good topic for discussion aside from anyone attacking a particular martial art or style. I thought we could also look at the various training methods used with a partner and get some definitions out of the way as well. Sparring There are various sub-categories to this one (Please feel free to add your own if I left it out or put forth your own definition if you think it adds to mine). 1) Point Sparring/Tournament Sparring (basically Tag in the Karate world, or Ippon in the Judo world) where after a point is awarded, the participants go back to the starting point and continue until the time runs out or the maximum number of points needed to win are accumilated by one contestant. 2.) Free Sparring/Randori Where in Karate type arts, the participants engage in a limited contact form of kickboxing that can include take-downs and ground work. In the grappling arts, it consists of takedowns, throws and wrestling. 3) "Aliveness" sparring I will leave to others to define for now since I think this is where we are going to run into the biggest differences. 4)pre-set sparring drills Whether this is the one-step and three-step sparring in Shotokan, or the Combinations in Shaolin Kempo, or the Punch counters in Kajukenbo or the pre-set techniques of EPAK or Tracy's Kempo, they are designed to build one's muscle memory, flow, power, and reflexes using proper form and technique in a controlled setting. There are doubtless others that I have left out such as Chi Sao etc. of which I have limited understanding and so must leave for others to define. Contests These are everything from the point sparring of tournaments, to the grappling contests of jujutsu and Judo to the full contact kickboxing of the PKA and Muy Tai, to the MMA fighting of Pride and the UFC. Each has it's own rules and regulations which emphasize different skills and training requirements. In a contest, both people are willing participants and usually posess some fighting skill. Generally the Tournaments have light to no contact, while the full contact is self explanatory as is the Vale Tudo MMA stuff. MMA matches rarely pit one style against another these days as most of the participants train in a pretty generic punching-grappling style much like boxing, i.e., there are differences between people like Ali and Marciano, but not like the contests of 15 years ago. The old Karate versus BJJ etc. are largely behind us in terms of vale tudo fights. Fighting This is the stuff that one rarely sees examples of. Unless one happens to be caught on tape or takes one's video camera and picks fights as in "Bum Fights" etc., one is left with contests and sparring footage to judge a style or system by. There are no rules here and no referees. There are no time limits, nor is there a way to know in advance what your opponent knows (usually). Usually, when one criticizes a martial art, they say something like, "That wouldn't work in a real fight." and they are usually thinking of a contest like one of the one's above. To me there's a big difference between any contest and a real fight and one should keep in mind which he means when stating this. Well, I think videos, anecdotes etc. should be welcome here for the purpose of sharing and learning. And please feel free to write your own versions of what I've put on here.