One Step Sparring A Versatile Martial Arts Drill

One Step Sparring is a common self-defense drill that many martial arts styles do. In most cases this martial arts drill is not designed for self-defense, but instead to improve your martial arts techniques and your ability to block martial arts style attacks. In most cases One Step Sparring is performed against the lunge-punch, a punching technique that involves you stepping forward as you punch usually with the same side that you step forward with. In most cases One Step Sparring is done outside of actual striking range.

There are several problems using One Step Sparring for self-defense; the predictably of the technique you are being attacked with, the lack of distance training in that you do not learn your attacker's range, the lack of distance training in that you do not learn your own attacking range.

So, many of the martial arts drills I do, I adapted the martial arts drill for my self-defense needs. The first thing I incorporated was my knowledge of movement education in that learned reflexes can be acquired at a reduced speed of practice. By slowing down the speed of the One Step Sparring drill, I was able to move my self-defense students within striking range of each other, thus giving my self-defense students an opportunity to begin to learn their attacks and defense ranges.

The next step I took was to vary the attacks, even adding street attacks such as grabs and tackles. I have seen many martial artists who can successfully defend themselves against another martial artist since those are the techniques they practice against, but when you tackle them or throw a non-martial arts technique at them they seem to get lost. I will not allow this to happen to my self-defense students.

By incorporating a martial arts drill called continuous blocking drill, a self-defense drill I developed myself, first, I give the self-defense students an opportunity to learn what blocks come fairly natural to them. This is not completely necessary as I've always held that any martial arts drill can be done at a controlled speed at any level of self-defense skill, but by having the self-defense students practice continuous blocking drill first, I, in essence, break down the One Step Sparring drill, thus making the self-defense drill easier to comprehend for beginning self-defense students.

Procedure for Basic One Step Sparring

Self-defense students and partners face each other.

The partner throws a single attacking technique with the agreed upon level of speed at the self-defense student.

The self-defense blocks the attacking technique to the best of his or her ability.

If the self-defense student is not successful in blocking the attacking technique, the attacking technique is repeated until a block by the self-defense student is successfully developed.

When the block is successful the self-defense student will then counterattack to the primary striking areas. The primary striking areas are those areas on the human body that do not require a lot of force to injure. The primary areas on the human body are the knees, groin, neck, and the eyes. Extreme caution must be used when striking toward the primary striking areas both in self-defense practice and during self-defense situations. It is up to the martial arts instructor and or the person reading this article to practice these self-defense techniques in a safe manner and to obey state and federal laws. The self-defense student, when striking towards the eyes should strike towards the forehead and the partner should wear goggles. No following through whatsoever on any primary striking areas.

When the self-defense student counterattacks, the partner reacts in a nonspecific manner as though the partner were actually struck by the blow. This is one of the problems I've run across with traditional One Step Sparring is the classic martial arts student developing combinations of counterattacks based on the partner being in exactly the same position he or she was in before he or she was hit by the counterattack. It is extremely doubtful, that when the self-defense student is attacked and kicks to the groin that the attackers eyes will be in the exact same place they were before the self-defense student kicked the attacker in the groin. However, the partner reacting in a prescribed manner is just as bad as standing still since the self-defense student does not develop an ability to react to responses of the same technique.

I normally recommend two to three counterattacks. I would rather my self-defense students have to stop a reflex of following up on a self-defense technique as opposed to having to learn an entire new reflex during a self-defense situation. See my article on Modern Teaching Methods of An Ancient Art for ideas on rotating a large number of students in this drill to vary partners and self-defense student reactions.

One Step Sparring is one of the most versatile drills I have ever run across. The only limitations of this drill are the imagination of the martial arts instructor and the self-defense student.

Variations of One Step Sparring

This is another martial arts article in and of itself, but I will name a few of them to give you an idea of the versatility of this drill.

Two Step Sparring having the attacker execute two attacking techniques.

One Step Sparring from different angles of attack i.e.; back front, side. You will find the blocking is slightly different at these angles. According to an article of research I read, most martial arts students who defend themselves successfully are attacked from the front. Think about most of your self-defense drills you do in martial arts class and you will see why.

One Step Sparring against weapons.

One Step Sparring with weapons.

One Step Sparring against multiple attackers.

Limit the ways the partner can attack forcing the self-defense student's partner to think of different techniques.

Limit the ways the self-defense student can block forcing the self-defense student to think of different way of evading or blocking.

Limit the ways the self-defense student can use to counterattack with forcing the self-defense student to think of different self-defense techniques to use when counterattacking i.e.; takedowns only, restraints only, legs only, arms only, must end with a restraint or takedown and so much more.

Mix them up. Do variations of One Step Sparring within the variations of One Step Sparring.

If anyone needs further explanation of these variations of One Step Sparring, I can always make it my next article.

If there is such thing as an ultimate self-defense drill, which there is not, the variations of One Step Sparring come very close. I have actually discovered blocks, striking techniques and takedowns based on the angle that my partner ended up at from my initial counterattack. Many of my own ideas and reflexes changed as I began incorporating this drills more years ago than I like to think of. I believe to an open minded martial artist, the variations of the One Step Sparring drill can be of benefit in both the development of self-defense and martial arts skills. I am slowly but surely working on a book in printable electronic form as I love that media, which includes drills I have developed incorporating my Movement Education background which will be called something like Bringing The Martial Artist Out From Within - Drills to Increase Your Natural Biological Abilities to Defend Yourself. Preorders of my self-defense book will naturally be discounted and you will receive the unfinished book in electronic form and free updates to the book as it grows.

Sensei J. Richard Kirkham is a 27 year martial art veteran. He is a dual certified teacher with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Physical Education with a background in Special Education, Exercise Physiology, Movement Education, and Behavioral Modification. He is presently an in home tutor, self-defense instructor, and body guard. Mr. Kirkham is presently teaching in Honolulu Hawaii. He can be reached at 808-528-5775 Ext. 5. He has one challenge which has yet to fail him, he can increase anyone's striking power 50% to 100% in one lesson. For those who cannot see him in person, he offers the same service with others on affordable custom video tapes. Sensei Kirkham has the unique service of offering in home classes so that people may learn self-defense in the privacy of their home without worrying about travel after a hard days work.

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