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Kung Fu sparring
Is there sparring in Kung Fu?
Yes, the various Kung Fu (Gung Fu) styles include combat systems that in the past were implemented in war and for such a kind of duels that nowadays we fatigue imagining (read The 6 types of martial clash).
Note - This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).
Said this, today:
Most Kung Fu schools teach this martial art in a "less practical" way; in certain cases as an honest declared choice (for peace, wellness, etc.), in certain others less honestly passing off contactless practices as valid for self-defense and other types of fights (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons)
Only a few schools (as ours tries to do), choose to continue the evolution of Kung Fu as a practical way of combat (read The disadvantages of "traditional" Kung Fu)
A note By Master Kongling - In any case, let us not be deceived by those who do not understand the breadth of the benefits, fields of action and objectives of Kung Fu: the aspect linked to combat is only a part and despite the effectiveness of its principles, it can be deepened or not.
How does sparring work in Kung Fu?
It differs from style to style, from school to school and from instructor to instructor but generally:
Once a student has acquired the necessary basic capabilities (an initial physical / mental conditioning, a few techniques, the first controlled fallings and a minimum of balance) can start to spar
Sparring is not real combat, it is a sort of "group study" so the intent should never be to prevail or worst to hurt a training partner
The intent is to improve together and this can happen only when the base is responsibility and respect (we never have to be transported by emotions, a behavior typical of beginners)
To control that the involved practitioners maintain the respect of the training partner there must be someone more expert to control (normally the instructor)
Differently from many other disciplines, the more the impact conditioning of the practitioners improves (read Conditioning check for the impact), the fewer protections are worn (this anyway is not a general rule)
Normally we never have to hit at full power (the focus is on speed, technique and tactics) but if the goal of a sparring session is to reach realistically the weak body targets, protections must be worn by anyone
In any case, the access to sparring must be progressive and strictly connected to the level of the student
The instructor should in no case allow 2 persons who have a grudge to face each other in sparring; the necessary condition for this fundamental practice is harmony among all members of the training group
A note by Master Kongling - Some schools call erroneously "sparring" some preconfigured sequences executed with higher intensity, that is a total misunderstanding: the peculiar characteristic of this exercise is that despite the eventual variable rules (that may be set to achieve more or less specific goals), the 2 participants do not know what the other will do (this is the crucial difference).
To deepen the knowledge of sparring and learn how to perform it safely and effectively read this free mini-guide Martial arts sparring [MINI-GUIDE].
The sport version
A note by Master Kongling - Even if it would be not completely correct to call "sparring" sport combat, the type of limited techniques that can be executed in such context are seen this way by many.
The sports version of Kung Fu combat:
Is very similar to kickboxing (it has scores, prohibited targets, etc.)
Is made on a platform called "Lei Tai" (a superelevated square without cords)
Do not allow techniques such as Chin Na, pressure points, etc.
Is something so far from the original applications that it can be seen as a totally different martial art
The positive aspect of the sports version of Kung Fu is that the training is based on:
Intense physical development (speed, power, stamina, etc.)
Practical technical development (technique, tactics, etc.)
In-depth video courses
Basic 6 Dragons Kung Fu Exercises - All the exercises that we use to build practical martial skills
Advanced speed and reflexes training - A video course to learn how to improve combat speed day by day
Are Karate's Kata, Kung Fu's form (etc.) useless? - The truth about forms' effectiveness
How to learn to fight: all the steps - The path to truly learn how to combat
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
Have you ever done sparing during a Kung Fu lesson?