SPARRING JOY

14/07/2022
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As we head into the second half of the year, the KB Fitness dojo is buzzing. The teaching team are thoroughly enjoying helping all KB members progress. It’s especially wonderful to know that some of our members have started sparring for the first time – well done, new sparrers! They will soon have experienced that satisfying moment, when they score their first point. Sparring is of paramount importance in reaching the next level as a martial artist.

As the KB Fitness’ sparrers will testify, sparring is the best way to learn a martial art, as there is the opportunity to apply each lesson plan in the most realistic way.  

Air work and pad work are fantastic for fitness, for practising technique and for some contact work (e.g. testing the guard by tapping with the pad, working range and control by hitting the pad cleanly and correctly). 

But sparring will always be the most effective way to truly understand each technique and fighting tactics. Sparring brings all that is taught in KB Fitness’ kickboxing classes together, in a cohesive and fully immersive way. Applying the blocks, punches and kicks onto a person – and a moving, responding target at that – enables the understanding of the lesson plan in a different way. The techniques learned in our Central London martial arts classes will often make much more sense when applied in a sparring scenario, for example the blitz (landing a lunging or flying punch to the head), working new angles, side stepping, and so on.

Sparring requires constant movement, so it boosts fitness even more than regular training. It will also greatly improve speed, the efficacy of blocking, reaction time and instincts, as all these things are taken ‘to the next level’ when applied onto another fighter, as opposed to just the air, or a pad. The body will undoubtedly react differently to blocking an actual punch (great for self-defence), compared to an imagined punch. The blocks, punches and kicks KB members learn take on new meaning – and, also, a new level of satisfaction. Blocking a punch, landing a spinning kick, scoring a point… all these things are so much more rewarding when applied in the sparring environment.

Applying techniques in this way leads to a greater mind / body connection than air or pad work alone.  Sparring is very immediate in nature and enables the fighter to enter a flow state in their training – it taps into their very being.

Chief Instructor, Kelly Bunyan (KB), says: “This will translate into different feelings for different people, but for me, when I land a super-fast, controlled reverse punch, or a blitz, I feel at one with my training and my past. It momentarily connects me to my physically stronger years, when I was younger, and it renders me feeling fortified and whole. I would be hard pressed to convince somebody of the validity of that statement, that hitting somebody can reap so many positive, intangible benefits – it would be met with incredulity. I understand why, but it is my truth. Training in the martial arts is spiritually nourishing and that can only be the case when the intention of every ‘hit’ is not to overpower the spirit of your opponent, but rather, as a team, to soar to collective new heights and be set free and empowered by the movement, qi and flow.”

One of the school’s Black Belts adds: “I myself started sparring about 6 weeks into my KB journey. I do still remember what it was like to feel unsure and nervous – but I also remember how much I loved it, how encouraging the other students were, and how much fun I had learning. When you look at the higher grades sparring, you are seeing the result of a lot of time, practice and instruction from Kelly and Dee. We were all beginners once, and I think it’s fair to say we flourished when we decided to take the plunge and try it. I really encourage everyone to consider sparring, so they can experience the joy and self-development that it brings,” 

Not every KB member spars and there’s no pressure to do so. But there are so many reasons to try it as it will greatly enhance the martial arts training experience – it is a joyful form of self-expression.

Fancy giving it a go? Get started on your martial arts journey today.

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