Unrealistic Range One-Step Sparring

Unrealistic Ranges of 1-Step Sparring

(Fast Punches and Counters)

by Keith Pascal

A Barrage of Speedy Strikes and Counters … Don’t Believe it!

I don’t know the classical term for the exercise I am about to describe …
When I was in both Tae Kwon Do and Karate, we did one-step sparring, but we also did a more advanced form.
You stood facing your partner. Your partner punched. You responded with a block and then one or two punches. That was the one-step version.
Eventually, this progressed into a more complicated form of the exercise.

Real Fighting? Not Even Close

You still stood facing each other. Someone punched. The person blocked and then punched — but then it continued. Block- punch, block-punch, block-punch.
This trading of techniques with your opponent facing you was impressive.
It looked quick. A blindingly fast series of punches and counters.
With this drill, I developed confidence. No matter what was thrown at me, I knew could block it — and I had a response punch that thrust forward without thought.
Cool, huh?

Punching Range Problems

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always work out the way the mind imagines.
One of the problems — the one I’m going to discuss today — was distance.
In this “multi”-step sparring, we stood at a set range, a fixed distance from our partners. The punches were ‘pulled’ in front of the face or chest. The punches didn’t actually reach the body.
And this becomes a problem. You learn a false range. You don’t have the right sense of distance to reach an opponent in a real fight. You think you can defend against anything, when you’re really only learning to defend against ‘the familiar.’

Come a Little Closer, Now

So, I have a suggestion …
The next time you face someone for one-step or multi-response sparring, get a little closer. Face off at your normal distance.
Now, close the distance by a few inches. maybe one step closer.
Ok, time for the multi-step sparring, if that’s what you do.
If you feel cramped at this new distance, what are you going to do about it?
You have to do something. In real-life attacks, the fighters do close distance.
Get comfortable at the new, closer distance.
Then …
get a couple of inches closer and continue practicing.
In fact, challenge the distance. Get even closer. Breathe down your opponent’s neck.
Now, some might argue that one-step sparring is needed in the beginning stages of learning a technique. They’d claim that you add realism, “later.”
One of the ways that I want to change ALL martial arts practice is to suggest …
What if you practiced from a realistic distance … even from the first time trying the technique?
What if you had your practice partner step in on each and every repetition of the technique, forcing you to deal with a realistic range?

An in-your-face fighting range?

What if?


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