While it is possible to get better at martial arts by just sparring it is not the way to get better fast. To get good fast you need to be able to drill correctly. I’m going to write about “how” to drill correctly in a future blog, for now I want to write about the “whys.”
#1 When you need to correct a mistake or bad habit you need to train in a way that re-enforces the correct, desired response. Sparring alone will not give you enough of the specific stimulus you need to allow you to practice the response you want.
#2 When you need to correct a mistake or bad habit you need to train in a way that allows you to focus on 1 mistakes at a time. Sparring alone will present you with so many problems and potential mistakes you will not be able to focus on the skill you are prioritizing for improvement.
#3 If you only spar your progress can also be slowed by the unnecessary injuries and frustrations that beginners’ “hard sparring” usually causes. Many people who could succeed in and learn to enjoy Judo, Kickboxing, MMA, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu get weeded out unnecessarily because they’re thrown into deep water to soon and have 2 outcomes: they get banged up too much and it ceases to be fun or they can’t seem to make anything work, when in reality they really may have just one mistake that they need to prioritize and fix.
I’ll give you probably the number 1 example of this in kickboxing – the inability to keep your eyes open or on your opponent when they throw punches. Super common and easy to fix if you give the athlete a drill with the proper amount of pressure that they can succeed with 70-90% of the time, keeping their eyes focused on their partner’s chest or chin. We have a dozens of athletes who have conquered this bad habit and a couple of athletes who have gone on to successfully compete in Muay Thai bouts.
I am certain that had they been left to “figure it out” during sparring the majority of them would not be enjoying their training today at SBG Berkeley.
Consider Fully – Act Decisively