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What is sparring?


Free-sparring is an essential part of martial arts training. It is called kyroogi in Korean and has been defined as “patterns in action.” However, unlike patterns, free-sparring is spontaneous, instinctive, and realistic so its similarity to pattern performance is limited.

In free-sparring two opponents fight each other with permitted techniques using the prescribed control and power in a safe and effective manner. Free-control may range from no-touch to full-contact. In all cases the intent is not to intentionally harm the opponent; however, depending on the rules, injuries may range from minor to serious.

Free-sparring is performed in a strictly controlled, non-threatening environment. It provides martial artists the opportunity to experience opponents of all shapes, sizes, and expertise. It provides martial artists the opportunity to put all that you have learned into practice and to test their fighting skills.

Only focused techniques close to a vital area are counted. Unfocused techniques or brute force techniques are not counted. Unlike in a boxing match, it not the number of techniques you execute that wins in free-sparring, it’s the accuracy, focus, and power of the techniques; it's not the quantity, it's the quality.

Free-sparring permits martial artists to test their abilities in somewhat unpredictable circumstances, usually against fairly equally matched opponents. It builds proficiency in sparring, but it also develops mental discipline, humility, and respect.

When free-sparring, you must have confidence at all times, without it, you lose. Confidence is developed from constant practice where you learn to overcome your liabilities, accent your abilities, and sharpen your technique. Confidence comes from having self-control and a strong desire to win. If you fight like everyone else around you, you will not accomplish anything. You must develop a fighting style that suits you, and then you will have confidence in yourself. 

Advantages of free-sparring

  • Development of quicker reaction time.
  • Increased endurance.
  • Ability to analyze your opponent objectively while under stress.
  • Increased self-control.
  • Improved focus.
  • Freedom to make the wrong decisions and learn from them without suffering the consequences.
  • Opportunity to role-play and experiment to find what works for you.

Factors that influence free-sparring

  • Stance
  • Relaxation
  • Breath Control
  • Kiai
  • Range
  • Closing the distance
  • Creating an opening
  • Thinking

Four essential free-sparring skills


You only need ten basic sparring techniques. There are many other techniques and variations of techniques; however, if you are proficient at these techniques, you will win.
  • Blocks
  • Jab (fore fist punch)
  • Cross (reverse punch)
  • Hook
  • Uppercut (upset punch)
  • Front Kick
  • Side Kick
  • Round Kick
  • Hook Kick
  • Axe Kick


Footwork using evasion, stepping, turning, and jumping


Flexibility, strength, endurance, power, and speed


Know when to attack, block, or move, and know what technique to use and at what point to use it.

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