Sparring – make the motions of martial arts without landing heavy blows, as a form of training.
When I’m in the ring and sparring. I’m moving around, bobbing and weaving, jabbing and hooking. My breathing is controlled and my reflexes sharp. I’m completely in the present moment and acting calmly and effectively.
The warrior acts and the fool reacts. – Dan Millman
Sparring in the martial arts (more specifically in kickboxing and wrestling) has helped me a) develop situational awareness b) stay cool under pressure and c) act effectively.
Sparring Helps You Develop Situational Awareness:
The more you spar, the more you develop a hyper-awareness of all of your partner(s)’s movements. Every little aspect of his foot-work, shoulder position, eye-contact gives you signals of what he might do next. Sparring has improved my ability to observe the details of interactions I have with others throughout my daily life. I am now more in tune with what people are telling me and what their body language is saying. I can more effectively judge people and read the energy emanating from them.
Sparring Helps You Stay Cool Under Pressure:
When you’re sparring, you are basically in front of a person who is throwing anything from punches to your face to kicks to your gut. If you’re not used to sparring, the pressure might overwhelm you leaving you in a very reactive and thus vulnerable state. Sparring taught me to breathe deeply and stay relaxed in the midst of pressure. Now when I’m in a tense situation in my daily life, I can often relax and breathe deeply thus distancing myself from the situation mentally. This is very effective in almost every aspect of life from seducing girls to dealing with internal struggles.
Sparring Teaches You To Act Effectively
Most people whether it’s in sparring or in life are completely reactive to pressure. When x happens, they automatically respond with y completely throwing out logic/strategy from the picture. This is a low level of human cognitive functioning and the most common level as well. The more I spar, the more I’m able to use higher cognitive ability in the midst of chaos. I almost gain a slow-motion like focus while others are completely overwhelmed.
If you’re going to do martial arts, choose one that involves live training AKA sparring. Some forms of martial arts don’t have a training component that involves practicing on real people. (Some forms of Karate come to mind.)
The benefits of martial arts extend far beyond the ones mentioned above. However, I felt compelled to emphasize the above benefits because I find them to be minimally discussed. When you train sparring, not only do you learn how to neutralize foes in real life but you also learn how to neutralize weak and reactive thinking. Ultimately, martial arts has been an extremely positive experience for me and I’m committed to practicing for the rest of my life.
Stay strong and train to fight like a man,