Bruce Lee was very fond to practice of sparring. In his febrile study of martial arts he concluded that, and these are his exact words: “ A fighter who trains without sparring is like a swimmer who hasn’t immersed in the water”.
He considered that the most practical way to train was the one that most resembles a real fight. This give us an idea of how important was sparring to Bruce Lee.
With his inquisitive mind Lee studied all aspects of fighting and gave a series of concepts that had survived the test of time.
They can be of great use to us.
He noticed that all the rules and regulations on modern fighting sports limit the growth of martial artis as complete fighters. In a real fight all offensive and defensive elements must be used to be effective, and must not be constrained by rules or regulations.
From concepts to sparring tips.
These sparring tips are useful not only to martial artist in general but to practitioners of contact sports in particular.
Use protective gear. Try to make sparring as similar as possible to a real fight. To avoid unnecessary damage is fundamental to use protective gear. Mouth piece, head gear, gloves, shin pads, groin cup, etc.
Keep good posture. A posture from which you can attack and defend, from where you have mobility and can deliver powerful blows.
Use good technique. Good technique is the key to our future progress. If we have good foundations we can build upon them. Otherwise, we will reach stagnation pretty soon
Keep a solid guard. A good guard is the first step in a strong defense
Don’t neglect you defense. While wearing protective gear many fighters neglect their defense, don’t make this common mistake. Protect yourself at all times, remember the way you train is the way you fight
Learn to judge distance.
Learn to slip, duck, weave and other defensive tactics, to avoid being hit
Attack is the best defense. Atack and defend at the same time.
Maintain a balanced stance, not too wide, not too short
Learn to deceive your opponent. It is hard to hit a skillful fighter with a straight punch. Be a master at feinting
Hit without getting hit back. To learn to control the distance, work on your footwork.
Kick and punch instinctively to open your mind to strategy. You must internalize every technique to use them without thinking.
Don’t throw punches while leaning back. A punch must be thrown from a balanced stance, with the weight shifting towards the lead food. That’s the way to cause real damage
Don’t hit while backing away. Reposition properly before delivering. Step back, stop, then hit. There is no power behind a punch thrown while backing away.
Learn to maneuver quickly from defense to offense and vice-versa
Learn to hit from any angle, like boxers do. This will make you a more versatile and unpredictable fighter.
Be patient, deliver your blows when certain to reach the target. Why thrown a punch if you are going to miss?
Step in with your punches. Close the distance and put your body weight behind them.
Don’t overshoot your target. You can get out of balance if you miss, leaving you vulnerable to a counter attack
These Bruce Lee tips on sparring, are useful to any martial artist independently of their style, creed or religion, but they are specially useful to competitive athletes.
I always like to read and learn from Bruce Lee, it amazes me how advanced he was to his time and how useful are his ideas and concepts to modern martial artist. For more of Bruce Lee revolutionary concepts you can read: The philosophy of Jeet Kune Do: Basic Principles