Today we’ll look at more sparring drills where one or both participants start in positions other than a traditional fighting stance. In these drills, one person may have the advantage over the other, so it’s important to learn how to both keep an advantage and turn the tables! Be sure to incorporate these drills into your training because very rarely will a self-defense scenario start in a fighting stance. Don’t forget to check out part one here!
Natural VS Fighting Stance
This is a typical advantage/disadvantage drill. Start a typical sparring match except both participants start inside the critical distance (where they can reach each other). One has their hands up in a fighting stance while the other is in a natural stance.
Remember, if you start with the advantage you must maintain the advance: attack fast and throw lots of moves before the opponent is ready. If you are in the disadvantaged position move backwards to create more time and space while you get your hands up. Remember to get sideways and minimize your targets as you do so!
One participant has their eyes closed in a natural stance. The other can position themselves anywhere around them. When the command to spar is given, the person with their eyes closed must open them and locate their opponent as quickly as possible.
The attacker must be able to move quietly to try to keep the defender guessing. The defender must be able to locate the attacker quickly and defend themselves! The defender should remember to get their hands up quickly, even if they haven’t spotted the opponent yet. If the defender opens their eyes and cannot see the attacker, they should try stepping forward to turn around (because you can then assume the attacker is behind you). The added distance buys the defender time to turn and prepare.
Grabbed at the Start
Have one participant grab the other in any hold your system has a defense for. When the match begins, the defender must execute an escape from the grab. After that the match continues as normal. For an extra challenge, if the defender hesitates or cannot perform the escape, the attacker may score points on the defender with legal strikes.
This drill helps train memory under duress. It’s much more difficult to perform a grab release when the grabber is threatening to strike you. It’s also very important to act immediately. Remember, it’s better for the defender to just punch the attacker than freeze while trying to think of the “correct” or “by the book” escape.
Self-Defense Is Never Ideal
It’s messy and sloppy and never goes exactly how you’re taught in class. Sparring in class is like a game of chess while self-defense is like someone sneaking up behind you and hitting you overhead with the chessboard. Use drills like these to add some of that ugliness into your sparring training.