Most students’ sparring mirrors the evolution of man. Wow, you must be thinking what does that mean? According to modern scientific understanding, humans developed from apes, which over time transformed into cavemen and over further time evolved to where humans are today.
Similarly, most students’ fight goes through a transformation process as well. They start out sparring as very aggressive offensive fighters. They don’t have a lot of experience so they think and believe that they should just concentrate and focus on offense and hitting and kicking their opponent as much as possible. They typically need to be reminded to back off when sparring and to focus on protecting themselves and not to get hit.
As the student evolves and learns more, they often tend to go towards being a defense-based fighter. This means that they are focused on avoiding techniques and focused on blocks and foot movement, without much thought to attacking their opponent. This can manifest itself if they started off as a very aggressive fighter in the beginner stages of their training and because they were not focused on defense, quite possibly took some ‘good’ hits. This can unnerve many people causing them to take up a much more defensive tactics in their fight.
Eventually, as a student becomes an advanced fighter and approaches blackbelt, they usually become counter-fighters. This is the equivalent to modern day man. A counter-fighter waits for his opponent to attack and ‘show their cards’, and then blocks or does a foot maneuver to transition into a successful attack. This is an extremely effective way to fight and is employed by many of the best fighters you will see in class.
Usually when a fighter gets to this evolved state, they can modify their fight based on their opponent. This means that they can go mainly defensive if they are fighting a very aggressive fighter, which might mandate this kind of tactic. It also means they can go completely offensive if the person they are fighting is timid and not offering any fight themselves. Depending on the person in front of them, they can literally morph into the type of fighter necessary to defeat that opponent. This is obviously a great place to be in, and the question is, how do you get there?
The answer is a lot of practice! Time and experience fighting cannot be overlooked and there is no shortcut. The best way to get better at fighting is to fight. So, enjoy those sparring sessions in class and embrace the difficult and different opponents you are paired with, as that is how you will improve your fight and eventually become an evolved fighter.