Variations in intensity

Variations in intensity

When you have a training room full of talented athletes many assume that every sparring session must look like the world championships. In fact I much prefer to limit the amount of really hard sparring the athletes partake in. Of course it’s good to go hard every so often and test yourself, especially when competition is coming up. But continuous hard sparring lead to two undesirable effects - injury and technical stagnation. When we fight hard against someone of similar size and skill level we usually have to fall back on our favorite moves to prevail. Only when we spar in a less competitive setting do we relax a little and try new moves and tactics and thus make technical progress. Surprisingly then, you will often see more outright physical intensity in a beginners class, where the students lack the technical depth to play a finesse game and have to go as hard as they can, than you will in a more advanced class, where the athletes know how to control their pace. In fact, even in a room full of killers like this, the majority of your sparring sessions should be with people below your skill level so that you can work on new skills in a setting conducive to learning. There is always a chance to go hard when you need it - but don’t neglect your experimental sparring - for that is where much of your progress comes from. Here, Gordon Ryan spars with Craig Jones, even in this case, unless there is a specific need for intensity, the primary emphasis is on skill development rather than banging heads and going as hard as possible.