Full Contact Sparring in JKD

October 29, 20150 Comments

Classical JKD: Full-Contact Sparring

by Sifu Ted Wong.

In most traditional kung-fu systems, the instructor requires the student to stand in a horse stance for much of the first six months. Bruce had a dim view of this, noting that it was very good for strengthening the legs and for developing patience and self-discipline, but that it had very little to do with fighting. The phrase he used in reference to this less-than-practical exercise was that it was like “swimming on dry land.”

He maintained that from the beginning, a student should learn to spar effectively so that he would be ready and equipped with the necessary skills of self-defense when suddenly confronted with life-threatening situations. In full contact sparring in JKD, the student wears full protective equipment and goes all out; in this way, he can truly learn the correct timing and distance for punches and kicks, and become immediately familiar with what it is like to fight under these conditions. It is a good idea to spar with all kinds of individuals – tall, short, fast and even clumsy. Clumsy fighters, at times, would present trouble, especially to beginners; this type of person being awkward, fierce and fighting in a broken rhythm – you don’t know what he’s going to do.

Bruce Lee Ted Wong SparringSparring in JKD should be as close to actual combat as possible. It teaches one how to be calm and quick under pressure; the instant that an opening or opportunity occurs, the attack is already on its way. And, because of the simplicity of the JKD principles, the attack is also very direct and effective.

As mentioned in the last article, when sparring full contact, protective equipment is a must – equipment such as head gear, boxing gloves, training gloves, knee pads, shin guards, groin cup and mouthpiece. This allows you to get as much into the full contact as possible and still protects you from injury.

In JKD, there are four ranges of fighting, and in JKD training, the student learns to fight within one range at a time. These ranges are: kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling. When starting to spar full contact, a beginner will begin at trapping range with finger gloves and mouthpiece for protection. Finger gloves are used instead of boxing gloves, because boxing gloves do not allow for enough sensitivity to the hands. In this range, the student learns to acquire a physical sense of the opponent’s movements and to react almost simultaneously to them.

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From here, the student usually goes into the grappling range, which includes the use of choke holds, arm bars, wrestling techniques and even biting.

Next, we move into the punching (boxing) range, and the equipment used mainly will be boxing gloves, mouthpiece and headgear. Here, techniques are practiced one at a time, utilizing different types of offensive and defensive moves, such as parrying, weaving, bobbing, as well as the intercepting / stopping fist. First, the lead hand is mastered, then the rear hand is brought into play.

The fourth and last range is the kicking range; here, the equipment used are shin guards, groin cup, as well as knee pads. The knee is usually the closest target and, as such, is usually easy to attack. Therefore, when sparring, special attention must be paid to not kicking the knee. Most attacks are done with the lad foot, and most counters are don in coordination with the footwork – either advancing or retreating.

The final stage of full-contact sparring is the combination of hand and foot where the student learns to move in and out of the four ranges with ease, utilizing the appropriate techniques in each range. By this stage, the student has examined every possible angle of entry and has trained in the simple, most direct and most effective way of engaging in combat in each range. When training begins, we break down combat into separate and distinct ranges and separately perfect each technique; when training is at an end, we bring them all together so that the totality of combat is, once again, complete.

This article by Sifu Ted Wong originally appeared in the July 1989 issue of IKF. You can learn more about the late Sifu Ted Wong and his organization at TedWongJKD.net 

Ted Wong Full Contact Sparring

About the video: Sparring footage from a Ted Wong JKD affiliated group in Poland.

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