Jul 28, 2019 - Feature of the Week

Perks of Sparring, Part 3: The Process is the Product

The goal of sparring is not to beat up our opponent but to learn from the experience. In actual combat, the goal is to win, to defeat our opponent. However, in sparring the goal is to gain valuable knowledge of combat in a controlled environment, bearing in mind that the “Process is the Product,” not victory or defeat.

What does the sparring process teach us? Actually, the more germane question is, “What does sparring not teach us?”

In Part 1 we learned the value of Independence. In Part 2 the focus was on Problem Solving. Now in Part 3 the emphasis is on Process.

One of the first things we learn in the process of sparring is concentration. As we say at the Karate Institute of America, “Concentration is the First Key.” Without concentration, our mind wanders and a wandering mind is a recipe for disaster. Sparring teaches us to stay focused on our task microsecond to microsecond. This ability to focus absolutely helps us in life, not just in the sparring ring. Lose concentration for one eye blink and wham! We’re hit or worse. Just imagine what may happen if we were to take our eyes off the road while driving for one second. Unthinkable.

Another gift of the sparring process is balance. Another important maxim at the KIA is, “Balance is Primary.” Another is, “Our Opponent’s Imbalance is Primary.” Balance is key to life in all things. If we lose our physical balance, we fall over. If we lose our emotional balance and let our temper go wild, we lose composure and create openings for our opponent’s strikes. If we lose our psychological balance, we get smoked. It’s axiomatic—when we lose balance we fall off the beam in which any degree of tragedy can occur.

Another benefit of the sparring process is learning to never quit, to never give up, to keep going, to keep learning, to keep failing. Yes, to keep failing because failure is a part of the learning process. Ask any person who is a success at what they do and they’ll tell you they failed much more than they succeeded. Nobody succeeds all the time. When we fail, we seek answers as to why we failed then fix the problem and move on to succeed. Show me any man or woman who has succeeded and I’ll show you a man or woman who has also failed many times. Failure is simply part of the success process. There is no shame in failing. The shame is giving up. This leads us to yet another saying in the Kiado-Ryu System of martial arts: “The Road to Success is Paved with Failure.” It can be someone else’s failure from which we learn, but mostly it will be our own failures that drive us to succeed.

A whole book could easily be written on the many benefits and perks of the sparring process. How many can you think of? These three articles have listed a few perks of sparring but there are many more, many more, indeed. Just keep in mind that when you spar, the most important thing is learning from the process. Who cares if you win? Nobody. And nor should we. The great gift of sparring lies in the process of learning because the “Process is the Product” and sets a solid foundation for every aspect of our life outside the karate classroom, dojo or studio.

~finis

© Richard Andrew King, Grandmaster, Kiado-Ryu Martial Arts