As previously stated, Taekwondo is a martial art, a self-defense system, and a competitive sport. To test their Taekwondo skills in a realistic context, Taekwondo students spar. Sparring is one-on-one combat between two Taekwondo students using controlled techniques. Students test the offensive and defensive techniques they have learned through hyung and class practice against an actual opponent in controlled circumstances.
The "founder" of one of the "realistic" martial arts states that he has "No idea what those martial arts instructors are trying to accomplish." In his opinion, when you see sparring in a martial arts school, one of three things is happening:
- The instructor did not prepare a lesson and is just killing time.
- The instructor does not like his students.
- The instructor does not realize that he is not teaching street self-defense.
In his opinion, any self-defense style in which you may spar is just a game and is ineffective. Of course, his style is effective and cannot be used in competition. He is right about one thing; he has no idea of what sparring is trying to accomplish.
During sparring, students demonstrate their ability to defend themselves effectively using Taekwondo techniques. They must demonstrate effective, well-defined, and controlled punches and kicks, in a manner that demonstrates an understanding of Taekwondo principles. The techniques should be executed in a manner that, even if blocked, they display power and an understanding of strategy and placement. Technically perfect techniques that lack power and placement are useless. Sparring should been as realistic as possible without causing injury to the opponent.
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