Sparring…What an invigorating element of Taekwon-Do! I enjoy it because it forces me to concentrate and use everything that I’ve learned and practiced. Whether they are things that I have learned in the dojang, growing up watching wrestling, or from everyday life. I learned some very important lessons early on in my Taekwon-Do training, while sparring with a young previous Canadian Kickboxing champion, and some older sometimes-overweight opponents, even from those that seemed to be non-combative. Key “take-aways” for me were:
- Respect my opponent,
- I learned to expect the unexpected and to be ready for it.
- I learned that looks could be deceiving. I learnt that lesson when I was tapped on the head with a kick. Luckily for me my opponent showed good self control and had his footgear on.
- Reminder: Be aware of my opponents’ hidden abilities!
- Score as many points as possible,
- Thinking that I would have more chances later in the sparring round to get my points, did not always pan out. Some opponents seem to gain energy as the round goes on.
- Reminder: I don’t know when I’ll get another chance.
- Limit scoring opportunities for my opponent,
- I’ve noticed how some of my opponents are able to anticipate some of my moves and use them to score points.
- Reminder: The fewer points my opponent scores the fewer I will need to win. So I need to self correct, and change my approach during the match.
- Conserve enough energy to finish the round huffing and puffing – and not passed out on the mat.
- At times, I had to spar multiple rounds with different opponents and felt like I could not counter attack or block properly. So it was important to adopt different strategies, and change my style of sparring to save some fuel.
- Reminder: Save my energy I may need it to go another round really soon.
I enjoy sparring in the dojang as I know we are all just trying to score points without hurting ourselves; all the while getting a good work out with family and friends. When the match is over if my opponent and I are both huffing and puffing and are able to smile – it was a success. A success even though I may have a sore shin, forearm, even a toe. Not to mention a bruised ego or cheek. I really look at sparring as a game, pointing out weakness in the opponents’ defenses and challenging myself to learn new strategies from them. Ultimately, I am grateful to be able to speak with my family about each of our sparring match experiences from the night on the ride home and be able to laugh about them together.