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A Guide to Sparring

Sparring is a drill between two (or more) partners designed to improve speed, focus, accuracy, and timing. In addition sparring teaches self-awareness, self-confidence and self-control. All students should be able to partake in sparring at Level 2 with no fear for their safety. For those students who want to push themselves further, at an appropriate point, this framework provides the basis for safe conduct between training partners; it also allows for preparation for open tournaments.

Sparring should not be confused with self-defence practice or street-fighting. Self-defence drills need to finish an encounter within 3 seconds and with as few techniques as possible. In a street-fight there are no-rules. Sparring is best described as an “exchange of techniques” – the intensity of which can be varied to suit the skill level of the participants. In sparring you should explore all your options, not just your strengths, and it should be used as a learning experience. Supervision of the higher levels is paramount.


Hand Techniques

Leg Techniques

By arrangement

Illegal Techniques

Forefist punch

Inverted fist strike

Inner knife hand

Front snap kick

Side kick

Roundhouse kick

Hook kick

Back kick (w/ control)

Spinning kicks (w/control)

Sweeps (w/ control)

Leg kicks

Knee kicks to body



Open hand apart from haito

Elbow strikes

Grabbing unless immediately followed by a legal technique or part of Level 5

Target Zones





Techniques may only be directed to the top and side of the headgear

No contact whatsoever to the front of the face, nose, eyes etc.

The front of the body below the collarbone and above the belt

The sides of the body, taking care to avoid contact with the back

No contact whatsoever to the throat and back

No attacks directly to the joints

No joint manipulation unless part of Level 5 – by arrangement with instructor

No attacks directly to the joints

No joint manipulation unless part of Level 5 – by arrangement with instructor

Illegal Targets: eyes, throat, groin, armpits, backs of knees, direct strikes to joints

Levels of Contact

Level 2 is assumed to be the default unless specified by the instructor









An exchange of techniques with a partner

4th kyu or above in attendance


8th kyu +



Partner feels light touch and is “tagged”

2nd kyu or above in attendance

Full safety gear

4th kyu +



Partner may get winded or stunned momentarily

1st dan or above in attendance

Full safety gear

4th kyu +



Opponent may get knocked to the ground but can rise quickly

3rd dan or above in attendance

Full safety gear

4th kyu +



Opponent may get KOd – knockdown tournament style

4th dan or above in attendance

Full safety gear

1st dan +



Choice of contact level from 0-4

Choice of range which may include throwing and grappling techniques

A third person must supervise each bout and a 3rd dan or above must be present

A matted area for throws is required



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