Sure, learning techniques and concepts is one thing. But actually applying it with force is a completely different story. Suddenly, everything you’ve learned in class becomes a distant memory. You go on survival mode and then just like that, the techniques start coming back to you. You feel great, you’re actually winning – and then, in just a split second, it’s all over. You’ve been out-techniqued, out powered, out everything. And you can’t wait to do it again.
In the world of martial arts, sparring is one of the most important aspects of training. Whether you practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing or MMA, any kind of sparring forces you to sharpen your skills, making you think on your feet and rely on your instincts – it’s as real as it gets. There are only winners or losers and virtually no excuses. There’s no doubt that there are some great lessons to be learned from sparring. Here they are:
1) Nothing lasts forever.
The beauty of sparring is that anything can happen in a few minutes. You could get tapped out, knocked out or you could be doing the same thing to your opponent. But what sets it apart from an actual competition is that you get to do it over and over again. So what if you win or lose? You still have 5 more rounds of sparring to go!
2) Never give up.
The mental toughness you learn from sparring is incomparable to anything else. The more you spar, the more unbreakable you become. You grow this tough skin that has been weathered through constant defeat. Sure, there were many times you’ve felt like quitting. But somehow, that warrior spirit you’ve developed made you get through it all.
3) Use technique.
You’ve probably been through 3 rounds of sparring; feeling good and feeling the exact opposite the next two rounds, making you wonder, “what am I doing here?”
You know what it’s like to use up all your strength and power, realizing that using technique is probably your best option. After all, sparring is meant to be a learning experience, not a competition to see who’s best.
4) Get your basics down.
BJJ legend Roger Gracie is known for his use of basic techniques, leading to a record breaking 10 wins in the BJJ Mundials World Championship. There’s no doubt that learning the fundamentals and making them perfect will lead to growth not only as an athlete but as a person as well. By continuously sharpening your basic skills, it will definitely be easier to move on to the more advanced techniques.
5) Nobody’s perfect.
It’s OK to make mistakes, trust us. Once upon a time, even the most decorated Muay Thai World Champions were beginners too. There were techniques that just didn’t come naturally and times where they’ve felt so frustrated because they weren’t able to block or defend any punches or kicks. Don’t give up and just keep on trying. This is just the beginning of your martial arts journey and there’s still so much to learn!
Although learning these lessons can be tough, they are inevitable in our martial arts journey. Remember, nothing worth having comes easy. In order to achieve greatness, we must learn from all these experiences and use them to fuel our desire to improve and become the best versions of ourselves possible. So tell us, what will you achieve in your next sparring session?