Sparring>Fundamentals>Point Sparring

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In point-sparring, the action is stopped each time the referee or a judge sees what he or she thinks is a scoring technique or a violation of the rules, the technique or violation is voted upon, points are awarded or deducted if there is a consensus, and then the action continues.

Advantages of point-sparring

  • It fosters good technique. To score a point in point-sparring, the technique must be nearly perfect. It must be well-executed, on target, and powerful. Sloppy, weak techniques will not score, even if they are on target.
  • It fosters good judgment. Since one point may end the match (as in ippon sparring matches), you cannot rush into many attacks and hope one of them scores. All the opponent has to do is stay calm and execute one scoring technique. You must choose when and where to attack carefully.
  • Young people can spar in competition in relative safely. Since controlled attacks are required, students, including younger ones, can spar with little chance and injury and any injuries are usually minor.

Disadvantages of point-sparring

  • It allows giving up when overwhelmed. In point-sparring, fighters can give up when the going gets rough and need not worry about getting beat up. Giving up in full-contact sparring or in a self-defense situation means getting beaten by your opponent. Students do not develop a habit of digging-in and keeping covered and continuing to fight when the going gets rough.
  • It helps foster a false sense of one's fighting abilities. Fighting under strictly controlled circumstances where the opponents do not intend to hurt you can cause students to think that they would be able to fend off any attacker on the street. However, when the attacker intends to harm you, many of the defenses you have used in training or in sparring will be totally useless, and the first powerful punch you receive may end your ability to defend yourself.
  • It causes a fighter to end an attack prematurely. In point-sparring, the action ends with a point being seen by the referee or a judge. It may not even be a technique that would ever be devastating to an opponent either because the technique is not a power technique or because it is not a good target. In full-contact sparring or in a self-defense situation, when an opponent is stunned, it is time to dig into your energy reserves and start delivering a series of debilitating blows to end the fight.
  • It fosters high, showy kicks. High kicks are fun to use, look great, and may score in point-sparring, but they are not advisable for full-contact and self-defense situations. 
  • A high kick takes a lot of energy to execute.
  • A high kick takes longer to set back down, which takes valuable time away from transitioning to a hand technique, especially at close ranges since there is a need to transition to hand techniques quickly. 
  • High kicks leave you vulnerable in the groin area and having the leg grabbed, swept, or trapped.
  • It breeds weak techniques. A quick back fist to the head is a sure point gainer but it is a weak technique. Back fist a boxer to the head and see what happens next.
  • A minor injury stops the fight. In point and continuous point-fighting, sometimes action is stopped for minor injuries. You are not injured unless you cannot get up and continue fighting. Getting whacked on the nose, poked in the eye, banged on the shin, or kicked in the stomach are not reasons to immediately stop fighting. It is better to fend off the rest of the attack, clear from the fight, and assess yourself for injury. 
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