Looking from the outside, taekwondo sparring may look like random kicks and punches thrown ruthlessly with the objective of injuring the opponent.
But from the inside, a sparring match is like a chess game.
In chess, you cannot win a game by unthinkingly moving around the pieces anymore than one could win a sparring match by involuntarily throwing techniques.
Strategy. The prerequisite to chess as well as to taekwondo sparring.
Taekondo sparring strategy comes in two main forms:
Macro or Overall Strategy.
Macro strategy is composed of overall and generalized aspects about any sparring match that will make you spar one person one way and another person another way.
There are several things that will affect your macro strategy:
1. The setting or main goal of the match.
If you are sparring someone who is taking his or her belt exam or if you are sparring in a tournament, your main purpose and strategy for sparring will be different.
Before you spar, ask yourself, “What is my goal? What do I wish to accomplish in this match?”
2. Your own personal strengths and weaknesses.
These are very important factors affecting how you spar. If you feel really comfortable with turning back kick, and not with turning hook kick, then you should stick with the turning back kick.
You are likely score if you use a technique with which you are very comfortable.
3. You and your partner’s contradictory physical attributes.
These will greatly define the way in which you spar your partner. You should know which strategy to use to your advantage.
Micro or Exchange Strategy.
Micro strategy is the strategy that is used for dealing with each of the tiny exchanges that make up a sparring match.
Types of micro strategy are:
1. Open Stance and Closed Stance:
When two people spar each other, each person is in a particular sparring stance: either left foot lead or right foot lead.
When both competitors have the same lead, this is known as closed stance.
If both competitors have different, it is called open stance.
The stances you choose determine which techniques that you can use against your partner to get a clear shot. The whole idea of sparring is to strike your partner where he or she is open.
When attacking or counter-attacking, you must be aware of the stance in which you are fighting. If you ignore the stance, then your attack or counter-attack will be ineffective.
2. The attack.
In an Olympic-style taekwondo sparring, you will have noticed that the competitors’ average sparring distance from each other is out of range for any technique to successfully land on either partner.
The whole idea of attacking is to close the distance between you and your partner so that you will be close enough to land a technique.
The most effective attack relies heavily upon footwork and faking and not just mere kicks.
3. The counter-attack.
Most of all points scored in taekwondo competition come from the counter-attacks executed.
The idea of the counter-attack is to surpass your partner’s attack. In other words, you want your counter-attack to be superior to and more devastating than your partner’s attack.
If your partner lands a technique on you, it is imperative that it is immediately counter-attacked with several more devastating techniques.
This way, you will be awarded the point.