Other martial arts might be considered more realistic for self defense situations, but tae kwon do is widely practiced worldwide because of its blend of dance-like movements and flashy kicks. Tae kwon do sparring is low impact compared to other combat sports, and many of its sparring drills can be performed by people of varying skill levels. These sparring drills will increase your coordination, balance and especially your reaction time.
Begin by facing your sparring partner. You both should be standing in a side stance with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Keeping your stance as consistent as you can, simulate a sparring match by moving around with your partner and attacking with kicks and punches without making contact. These attacks should be about half-speed and if you do make any contact, it should be accidental or very light to avoid injury to both of you.
To practice offensive skills, punch and kick straight without making contact with your partner's body while your partner moves back or to the side to avoid your attacks. Even if your partner does not move, you should not make contact with your kicks or punches.
Allow your partner to punch and kick at you and move back or to the side to avoid the strikes. Even if you do not move, your partner should not be trying to make contact while fighting offensively.
Defensive Kicking Drill
Stand in a side stance and have your partner hold a kicking shield at her waist level. A tae kwon do kicking shield is a thickly padded, rectangular shield that absorbs the power of kicks to protect both your foot and your partner's body from the impact.
Have your partner move toward you and then kick the shield with a side kick. The focus of this drill is to add stopping power to your kicks. Your partner's forward motion should be stopped with your kick.
Reset your positions and repeat the first two steps, increasing or decreasing the speed at which your partner approaches to fit your comfort level.
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Face your sparring partner; both of you should use a side stance.
Propel yourself forward by pushing off your back foot, lifting your front foot to move toward your partner as quickly as possible.
Move your front fist toward your partner's head as your front foot touches the ground, but do not make contact unless your partner is wearing protective gear. Blitzing forward and leading with your front hand is one of the best ways to score points in tae kwon do sparring.
Reset and take turns practicing blitzes with your sparring partner.
- In tae kwon do, the most important aspects of sparring are distance and timing. These drills are designed to get you and your partner used to measuring the distance at which you can attack and be attacked and also to get used to the speed at which you can perform these techniques.
- Even if you are planning on doing no-touch sparring and no-touch blitzing, don sparring gear including a padded helmet, sparring gloves and foot protection to minimize the chance of injury to you or your partner.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.