Saturday, January 5, 2008

Point and Contact

I'd like to learn from point-sparring martial artists what that experience is like.

I'm a little hesitant to open up this discussion because, like the "kata or no kata" discussion, I anticipate a discussion of point and contact sparring turns into a discussion or point versus contact sparring, which then turns into a contest of slinging insults at each camp.

That's not what I want.

I do contact sparring, and I enjoy it tremendously. But I understand fully why some people wouldn't want to do it.

What I want to know is, not what point sparrers think is bad about contact sparring, but what they enjoy about point sparring.

I've never done point sparring. I've seen it a little, but not a lot.

I imagine it emphasizes speed, movement, flexibility and precision. You also probably have to learn how to control the strikes so they don't become contact sparring.

I'd love to learn more about it from practitioners. I don't even know what the rules are. When I see videos and photos, it does look like people get knocked down on occasion, so there's definitely some contact.

(I have a DVD Hulk's wife made of contact sparring at the black belt test; since we were testing in the same area, I'm visible about 80% of the time. I can't get the video from the DVD onto the computer, however; I guess I would need to use his actual movie camera.)


Michele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michele said...

Let me start by saying that I train in a traditional karate system. In the dojo we practice sparring two ways – continuous and tournament. Contact is controlled in both ways and targets are above the belt – no face contact allowed. I am sure that the rules vary slightly from tournament to tournament but here are some basic rules.

Tournament Sparring (Point) –

Targets –
Between the shoulders but above the obi
Kidneys (some tournaments) but no spine
Helmet (upper belt adults) but no face
Groin (sometimes but only at black belt level)
Leg sweeps followed by a strike are allowed in some tournaments

There are usually five judges – one center judge and four corner judges. Any one of the judges can call “Yame!” to stop the fight. The center judge then calls for points. First competitor to accrue the designated number of points wins the match.

I like the continuous sparring for the endurance. I like to point spar because at the end of the match you know how well you did. We do not judge or award points during continuous sparring. I think that point sparring helps fine tune skills such as speed, timing and distance. The exchanges are quick and precision is important.

I applaud you for not wanting this discussion to turn into an attack on one form of sparring versus another. The organization which I belong to promotes the sharing of information among styles. We look for what we have in common not what is different. My instructor would say that there are two styles of karate – Good Karate and Bad Karate. The difference is that one works and the other doesn’t.

Bob, sorry about the deleted comment. I had a computer glitch and only part of my comment posted.

Hack Shaft said...

Here's a tournament point sparring video:

In the organization I belong to, rules are basically:
- 2 points for kicks
- 1 point for punches
- No leg sweeps
- Momentary grabs allowed, if followed with an attack
- No back fist
- Head shots (including face) allowed in upper belts only.
- Any blood generally ends a match.
- Sparring is 2 minutes, or first competitor to 5 points.

I enjoy point sparring for its emphasis on focus, control, and accuracy. I personally think its safer to participate in as well, which invites a broad age and ability range.

BobSpar said...

Very interesting, folks, thanks, I'm learning a lot. Sometime I ought to go watch a tournament (and learn the rules before I watch).

bigreddog said...

Well, I've trained MT, boxing, judo and MMA. And I'm now making a bit of a switch back to light contact (savate assault)

I find it fast paced, enjoyable and safe. (I like waking up in the morning and not creaking on the way to the shower and I like not worrying about whether my brain is intact after a heavy shot.)

Mostly though, I enjoy it as a sport in its own right. Like say fencing. I think it is a healthy activity that I can do for the rest of my life.

BobSpar said...

Fencing's a very interesting analogy. It makes me think, at 51, I'm probably waaay too slow for point sparring....

bigreddog said...

Bobspar - I think I am too. I'm a superheavyweight, 35, and the power game is my natural environment.

But I found the wear and tear of grappling too much, and I think it is much healthier to do something because I enjoy it than for any other reason.

And there are masters categories.

John Vesia said...

Believe it or not, I've seen more injuries in point-match contests than the full-contact variety. Part of the reason for this is that one guy is playing by the rules and the other is bending them somewhat. There are occasionally KOs in point matches, even though that's not supposed to happen.

Most judges will say no contact to the head, only a "focus" (pulling the shot before it makes contact, but showing you could've scored). In black belt divisions a "touch" to the head is allowed, and you can guess how some interpret that. Almost always full-contact punches and kicks to the body are not only allowed, but encouraged.

Of course the biggest dilemma with point sparring is how this type of training translates into real fighting. But point sparring teaches control and focus that sometimes is lacking in contact matches. It really depends on who's playing and what skill level they've arrived at.

BobSpar said...

From the few videos of point sparring I've seen, John, point sparring seems very acrobatic, and I can see how all that extreme motion could lead to injuries as well.

One thing that often isn't said about full contact sparring and real fighting is that--it seems to me anyway--if you punch in a real fight like you do in contact sparring, you're at risk of breaking your hand against somebody's head since you're not wearing gloves.

I was so amazed to learn that boxing gloves are made to protect the boxer's HANDS, not the opponent's head.