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In “Sparring Games” we refine previously learned skills and develop newly acquired skills on three levels, physical, mental and emotional.
On a physical level, we’re teaching young people how to apply their defense and to initiate and counter attack using their recently learned punches and kicks.
Mentally they’re learning about the arts of quick decision-making, multi-task management, flexibility, adaptability and strategy.
Emotionally they’re learning about anger management, mental toughness and good sportsmanship. This level is called “sparring games” because we stress the difference between sparring and self-defense.
Children understand what games are and know that playing them requires certain rules, but in self-defense the same rules and sportsmanship do not necessarily apply.
This level allows instructors to teach the various elements of safety and sportsmanship needed to make sparring enjoyable and safe. It also allows an instructor to work on a myriad of other skills and concepts that directly apply to children’s everyday lives, such as physical, mental and emotional self-control, focus, concentration and mental agility.
Some children take to sparring games immediately, while others begin with some trepidation. The key to teaching sparring, at least in the beginning stages, is to allow children to take it slowly. If they have the choice and flexibility to participate at a level they feel capable of, they’ll eventually enjoy playing the game.
The contest rules can vary depending on the instructor’s preferences and the age, size, experience and maturity of the children involved. Instructors must teach legal targets, point scoring, defense and how to use the ring or mat —depending, of course, on what kind of game is being played.