Sparring is the first real challenge you need to overcome if you want to make it professionally. Sure, you’ve been training for a long time and now you feel ready to spar regularly. No doubt that sparring does take your training to the next level but remember there are many things bout it that you might not know yet. These things are not publicized and aren’t commonly discussed; however, these are widely practiced across all martial arts around the world.
Before moving to that, I’d like to share a few details about sparring, so first-time readers can understand. Sparring is a drill wherein you and your opponent help each other to practice real moves in a proper ring. Though it carries the big match feel, the intention isn’t to beat your opponent but rather learn from each other. Noticing subtle nuances such as movements, punches, positioning, defense and another aspect which sharpens your overall skills.
Is Sparring beneficial?
Sparring has great benefits ranging from physical development to emotional development. It builds confidence, coordination, critical thinking and response development. When you start out with sparring, it can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. However, after the first few sessions, it’ll grow on you and you’ll start loving it. Having said that, it’s important that you don’t spar without your brains. You have an actual opponent in front of you and he/she WILL HIT YOU BACK. So, here are a few Unspoken Roles in Sparring you need to know:
7 Unspoken Roles for Sparring in Boxing
Not a Death Match
Many youngsters when starting out, exhaust themselves within the first few rounds. Remember, it’s a horse race and thus you need to be composed. As a martial art practitioner, make sure not to treat sparring as an outlet for anger, an occasion to beat someone or as an ultimate match. Also, if you’re at a gym where sparring has any of the previously discussed points, you need to reconsider your gym. You should not go in with the intention of injuring your partner and vice-versa. Sure, it can happen accidentally but that’s about it. Sparring should be used in the spirit to understand the science of movement and application of different techniques.
Basics form your foundation
As a beginner who’s just starting out with sparring, DO NOT OVERLOOK foundation elements in martial arts. These include evading and blocking punches, head movements while moving, basic movement and throwing punches at moving targets. These are basic movements. Don’t ask your coach about distance deception techniques when you haven’t even started with basic footwork. Focus on the foundation aspect and then progress.
Don’t use 100% power
Reiterating the first point, I’d like to share that you shouldn’t go in with 100% power. Don’t get carried away. At no point in sparring should you try and apply full force on your partner whilst they aren’t doing the same. Focus on techniques and execution instead of power. Learn to get the technique right and increase your power based upon your partner’s intensity. Have a conversation before the round and agree mutually on the pace at which both of you are planning to spar.
Ego has no room in martial arts
You can be the best martial artist in the room but ego will do nothing positive to your image or your outlook. Refrain from being self-obsessed and carrying ego in your mind. Sparring is not about winning – it’s not a competition. The entire purpose of sparring in boxing is to improve your skills and keep learning. And learning doesn’t happen when your ego is present in the room. So, leave your ego out and keep yourself open for constructive criticism. For beginners, I’d just say that don’t try to power out of every sparring session. You might feel that you’re the best in the room, but you’ll make the environment in the gym really negative.
Maintain the space
Most of the time when we’re are starting out, the space in the training area is limited. That’s because it helps us improve our awareness of our surroundings. Don’t try to use the lack of space against your opponents. Instead respect their space while sparring by maintaining a safe distance. Look out for your partner and if you happen to bump into someone, apologize and move towards a different area with more space. Again, it’s more about developing your awareness than making a fool out of your sparring partners.
Don’t undermine the gear
Regardless of how good you are with your movements, never undermine the gear. Be it a mouthpiece or a hand wrap, sparring takes place in a safe environment. So, make sure to put your groin guard, mouth guard, and shin guard. Martial arts gear isn’t there to make you uncomfortable but to ensure your safety in case of any mishap. Thus, do not undermine the importance of gear at any given time.
Respect your partners
Lastly, respect is at the center of each and every martial art. Don’t spend time talking and socializing, rather focus on improving your knowledge and sharpening your skills. Similar to you, everyone is there to focus on their skills, thus, be punctual and ensure you can squeeze as much knowledge as you can. Respect your opponent even if you have a great experience. Advise them and guide them as to how they can improve their skills. Remember, knowledge is powerless unless you acknowledge it and share it with the world
As a martial artist, it’s a sin to consider yourself as perfect. You can’t be perfect at anything. You can be great and even outstanding, but you can’t be perfect. Thus, spar regularly and do it while keeping all the aforementioned points in your head. These are unspoken rules, your trainer might tell you or might not, but these are the points that you must know. Consider them to be No brainer sparring rules in boxing.