Contact, Disqualification:
by Sensei Neil Prime
October, 1996

After a busy season of tournament participation I have observed many sparring matches fromwhite to black belt. One thing that sticks out in my mind is contact to the head. This, for obviousreasons is not good.

In our tournaments contact to the head is an immediate disqualification. The idea of scoring apoint to the head is to have control of your distance and actions. So if you are the unlucky oneand get hit in the head can we, or should we blame our sparring partner for lack of control orshould we not be concerned about our lack of blocking skills?

In both cases, both people lose. One should initiate control, while the other should be concernedabout their own well being. Competition should be exactly that and to hit to the head is againstthe rules. Yes, in competition there are rules to follow but that doesn't mean that you should riskinjury because you think that the rules are going to protect you or aren't going to be broken unintentionally or not.

I'm not going to talk about controlling techniques now, that issue has been talked about manytimes, my concern is with the person getting hit. The obvious first point to consider is to keepyour guard up at all times. Far too often do people drop their hands, sometimes willingly whensparring. In my opinion if someone drops their hands in front of me when confronted they showlack of respect. It is like their saying "I don't need to defend myself when your in front of me".I'm sure (I hope) that this is not case, but it does make it very difficult not to execute techniquesto the head since now it is the obvious target.

If point sparring is supposed to simulate a life like situation, then how would you fight when youreally have to defend yourself? You are most likely to react how you practice.

Unfortunately when it comes to point or controlled sparring most people that drop their handsdon't even realize how easy of a target they really are. Sure you might get a point for getting apunch into the body as the attacker moves in, but in reality if that person is in the middle of theirpunch to your head, their not even going to feel a punch to the body because their focus is in thetechnique. In reality your going home with a headache, possible stitches or worse.

Another situation that has to be addressed is the person who charges into the other person withtotal lack of repercussion. Generally as a black belt and experienced fighter, if I am sparringsomeone with less experience than myself I will ease up on the power in my technique. This doesnot mean that I don't respect the other persons willingness to be a good fighter but I don't expectthat person to take advantage of the situation either because if need be, I will defend myself. Asfar back as I can remember in sparring matches, the couple of times I really hit hard was becausethe person sparring with me kept coming and coming with little control and respect for myability.

When I spar in a tournament or with someone that has the experience then I expect for that person to spar equally as hard as I do and I respect the fact that if I drop my guard and get hit it is my own fault. I'm not talking about getting hit by someone who totally disregards control as one of the rules, I'm talking about putting myself into a situation where I have to bare theconsequences. If I am sparring someone whom I feel may have an advantage over me in any wayI would proceed with caution, as though I was really defending myself.

I realize that nobody would get hit on purpose to advance in a tournament but if you do get hit,I hope that you now think twice about why.

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