Do you Spar?

The most common question people ask when they call is, “do you spar?”  My response for years has been “no”. I usually talk about the drills we do and how they develop skills and reactions and how these drills help us gain more information from our training.  I find it seems like it often falls on deaf ears.  That is OK, this is why we interview each other.  If sparing is what you want this is not your school.  If you want to learn an authentic Okinawan Martial Art (or two) the way they have been done traditionally this is the school for you.  One parent put it this way:

“The lack of sparring is exactly why I chose Menomonie Goju Ryu.  Sparring can be counter productive, time consuming, and caters to those who want just “fighting”. Your approach is much more refined. The Okinawan karate was created for the purpose of defense. Sparring can interject offense that can lead to unacceptable behaviors outside of the dojo.  We appreciate that the focus of the classes are on technique, preparation and fitness.”

As a student in the past we did jiu kumete or free sparing.  We would spend about 1/4 of our class time on this exercise.  When I was going to classes 4 and 5 times a week this amounted to several hours each week.  I learned several things including that I could block and take an incredible amount of punishment.  I often hated it, I hated that we were not learning martial arts in my opinion.  We were not gaining an understanding of the concepts in the gifts we had been given of the katas thoughtfully crafted and carefully handed down.  It is this experience that brought me back to Okinawan style Goju Ryu and informed the response above.  Goju Ryu is a practical art developed by people whose lives depended on fighting or at least being prepared.  Kata are packages to transmit information, our job is to unpack the concepts they transmitted and develop them for use.