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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories, School Information, Sparring, Uncategorized » First Experience Sparring

First Experience Sparring

Our school has recently matured enough to have students ready for sparring. By mature enough, I mean we have a sufficient number of yellow belt (or higher) rank students (kids and adults).  Beginners, in this case white belts, don’t quite have a grasp on the basic blocks and strikes to be ready for the speed of sparring.  Now that we do though, we’re adding sparring classes twice a month.

Every student has a first time sparring experience

Every student has a first time sparring experience

My instructor recently posted to his site about his experience with schools who opt not to spar.  I’ve never participated at any of those types of schools, so my frame of reference has always been with sparring.  I don’t remember my first experience sparring as it was in the early 80s with Mr. Curtis Abernathy. Though I do remember enjoying it and can still recall a few tournament matches. It was through sparring at a tournament I got to meet the head of our organization the American Kenpo Federation, Mr Duffy, for the first time.

My girls first time sparring happened in 2009 once they received their yellow belts and their sparring gear. (Sparring gear includes head gear, foot pads, hand pads, shin guards, and a mouthpiece.  Boys also wear a cup.)  At the time we were practicing on hardwood floors in our dining room.  Needless to say we avoided going to the ground.  Their first opponents were each other and since it was sisters going, there was much giggling involved.  Their first experience against other kids was at Mr. Wilson’s school Disciple Martial Arts in Edmond, Oklahoma.  It was a real eye opener for them with the speed and different flow styles from the other kids.  It was a tremendously positive experience, and my oldest daughter loves to spar at every opportunity.

The newer students who’ve recently begun sparring have had very similar first sparring experiences as my kids.  It’s a major adrenaline rush to try and utilize the basic tools we drill each week in class.  The opponent is moving faster and reacting differently each time. We begin slowly and focus on managing distance, using the right hands to block different zones, and choosing targets to strike.  It’s a work in progress for all of us. Continually.

My duty as an instructor is to create a safe environment where the tools we learn can be practiced.  I have to be cognizant that each student is going to have a “first sparring” experience.  If it’s negative, then you’ll likely be much less inclined to try again.  The first sparring experience should be fun, exciting, full of encourement, and memorable enough to want to do it again.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

Filed under: Personal Stories, School Information, Sparring, Uncategorized

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