Developing your sparring toolbox

To become an effective fighter, you need to develop an arsenal of skills to draw from.  As any blackbelt will tell you, you need to be able to switch what you do in a fight depending on what your opponent shows you.  You might have the greatest round kick in the class, but if you are fighting an opponent who is so quick that you can’t ever throw it, or so much bigger that you can’t effectively reach them, than you need to pick out some other technique that might be more effective against that opponent. 

So, how do you develop your sparring toolbox?

The answer comes directly from your training.  If you throw only 1 or 2 types of kicks every time you spar, than you can’t really expect to develop other techniques.  It is great to have a few moves which you are so comfortable with that they are your “go to moves”, but you also need to practice different types of kicks and punches so that you are prepared when your go to moves don’t work so well on that specific opponent. 

I would encourage everyone to pick out a new punch/kick that they are going to work on for a specific class, and then force yourself to try that move many times when sparring that session.  You might not “win” those specific fights, but you will get used to using that move in a fight, and might find that it works well.  The more you do this, the more you will develop moves that work, and can then be added to your go to moves (toolbox). 

The beauty of having a large toolbox of moves is that you can play around with combining them in different ways to produce effective offense.  Combinations usually win fights, and if you have a large arsenal of combinations with different moves, you will keep your opponent guessing and have a great opportunity to dominate the fight. 

The takeaway here is to not be afraid to experiment and grow your marital arts toolbox.  By increasing the variety of your punches and kicks, you will be able to fight a wider variety of fighters with greater success.  Most people believe that blackbelt is the end of the line as far as the growth of a martial artist.  The truth is that the best blackbelts continually practice and grow their art by adding to their arsenal, and continue to do so as they go for higher levels of rank.  All practitioners should strive to grow their toolbox, as it can only help you be a more effective fighter.

-Coach David-