Home > Concepts & Principles, Uncatagorized > Two Man training for striking arts – 1 step sparring

Two Man training for striking arts – 1 step sparring

Systems that focus on striking arts normally start with “one step sparring” techniques. As a rule each system has a preferred method of punching in.

Traditional karate, TKD, kempo systems, etc. normally have someone half moon in and punch in a traditional karate stance, with a lead hand punch. They stop their punch just short of the target.

The pro’s to this type of training are that you can work on timing and basic defensive techniques, as well as techniques using a far more complex flow as you see with many kempo systems. Since your attacker isn’t really trying to hit you, it is safer for beginners, with less risk of accidental injury.

The con’s to this type or training are that your distancing is off. In a real fight someone is going to punch through you, not stop just short/out of range. Some talk of punching six inches through their opponent. Others say punch elbow deep, and kick knee deep through your opponent. As you can see your distancing and positioning would be much different under those circumstances. Another issue is that no one in the western world attacks anyone with that type of strike. Training against an unrealistic attack, can be a waste of good practice time.

Aikido practitioners tend to have the attacker throw a downward hammer fist from overhead. They over commit throwing themselves off balance as the go through where their opponent was at the beginning of the attack. This is because Aikido originally had the attacker simulate a sword attack. People fighting with swords fight from a further distance apart then empty hand people. The other method they tend to work with, is having someone come in and grab them, and continue to hold on while they execute their technique.

Pro’s to this method are that the attacker does commit and strikes through their opponent. Timing, distancing, and positioning need to be correct training this way. So not only do they develop these skills, but if you’re incorrect you get immediate feedback in the form of being hit.

Con’s are that people don’t attack using that kind of strike very often, nor do they generally throw a completely over committed off balance attack (at least not trained people). People that grab a hold of you probably won’t really hold on without releasing before letting you just completely off balance and throw them. This can lead to practicing and developing techniques that may not work against most attackers in the real world.

There are also some kempo people, and perhaps others that use a similar method of punching in as Aikido people. The difference is the tend to use punches from an on guard position as they charge through the defender.

Always have your attacker really try to hit you, never have them pull their punch.

A good approach to “one step sparring” is to have your opponent throw a right hand, while you practice your technique. Then have them throw a left hand and practice your technique. After that do the same with right, then left kicks. Once you’ve worked these have your attacker throw anything they want (anyway they want, and from any on guard position) as you respond with your technique. After all to my mind any legitimate technique should work against anything thrown at you. The worst case scenario if you are following good principles, is that you don’t get hit. Most of the time you should achieve the desired outcome. The more you practice, the more often that correct outcome should happen.

Another good thing you can do in “one step sparring” is develop a stronger attack.

A method do this is have the defender stand on guard at the distance you want to attack from. They can either block or move out of the way as you attack. Untrained or unskilled fighters telegraph their movements when they attack. You can have the defender look for the first thing they see move as you start your attack each time, and give you feedback. Telegraphs could be anything. Examples are tensing all or part of your body, changing any facial expression, shifting weight, holding or exhaling your breath, etc. You want them to look for anything that gives you away.

After this you can move on to “two step sparring”, etc.. I’ll cover more in another blog.


Mike Murphy


  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: