How important is sparring??

Sparring is by far the most important aspect as long as you keep it at that level - i.e. working to help your partner on technique under controlled conditions. If you are looking to develop power and stamina, then the thai pads and heavy bags are for you. Seeker is exactly correct in what he said about being controlled and light.

A lot of guys and gyms don't understand the difference between sparring and fighting, especially beginners who don't have control or are not relaxed or are just trying to prove something.

Unfortunately, a lot of people never aspire to fight or even spar because they believe and have experienced the mindset that every night they go to a gym that they have to 'fight'. Nobody can last with that kind of training regimen.

It is VERY important, but IMHO pad drills are far more important for the first 6 months to a year. The biggest difference is that in grappling you can essentially go 100% and not get hurt, spar in kickboxing at 100% and someone is going to really hate it. The timing for the two are very different as well, Grappling has a much more controlled timing which is easy to get used to. Fighting on yer feet has more x factors and takes longer to get used to (the speed of it that is).

In BJJ and wrestling, I feel sparring or going 'live' is the top factor in improving your game. It's obvious you need to drill moves but you test them out when you roll. How important is sparring in boxing vs. drilling? I have been boxing a month or so and haven't sparred yet. I hit the bag alot and do some drills, etc. However, do you think it's just as important as grappling to spar or go live? Thanks.

Seeker is correct. Go soft enough so that you're not flinching all the time. Go slow enough so you are using proper technique. Slowly turn up the volume. Otherwisw, you'll be brawling and pretty much wasting your time.

I think sparring is a must, just like live rolling in bjj, and wrestling. It shows you what moves/techniques you can get, and what you need to work on. The key is to keep it light and controlled untill you're comofortable, and to SLOWLY speed up the contact level. My school has started sparring again (lots of people talk about wanting to spar, but most have some excuse as to why they can't) and as to give you an idea of slow and controlled last night I talked one of the women in our class into sparring, she's in her early 30's and 120 tops, I'm 23 and 233, when we sparred because i'm more experianced i landed more shots, but because i was controlled she didn't end up falling over, or end up limping away in the end. A important fact to accept is that in sparring you're going to get hit, but as long as it's controlled there should be no chance of you getting knocked out.

Give it a try, find someone with some control to spar your first time and who will not try to bum rush u and beat you down so you can see what will and won't work for you.

just my opinion

it's been teaching me not to get hit in the head and keep my hands up.


Sparring is a must for a fighter. If you don't spar, you don't get a true feeling of what it's like to take and give shots. When you spar, you just gotta know who you're sparring and how hard to go.

At my school/gym, we have a lot of new people, I've been there since I was 13 (21 now), if I open up on one of the new people, they die, that ain't cool and doesn't get me anything except a bad rep. Most of the time, I go light with ALL sparring partners and work my timing and combo's. Only Occasionally do I bang hard with somebody, and when I do, it's somebody else that's working for fighting in a ring, and we agree to bang before hand.

Sparring is more important than hitting dead pads.

Aliveness rules!!!

Full contact sparring is the most important part of any striking art. It separates Kickboxing/Boxing/etc... from McDojoism and TaeBo


Just about every beginner that I have seen can go through drills perfectly and hit the pads with all the proper technique, but put them in the ring with a live person hitting back and they will forget everything.
Live sparring is just about the most important part of training in any striking sport.
I try to take the biginners into the ring for their first few times. I am always under control so they can get the feel without getting killed. When they get some confidence and basic skills, then I will pair them up with each other.
Just remember, everybody was a beginner at one time. If your asked to go in with one, treat him/her right.

There are diffrent types of sparring we do( like jab only sparring) for people who are newer. They don't go very hard but we try to kill them on the thai pads.


Thanks for the responses guys. How long does it usually take before i'm "ready" to spar? I'm gonna cut out the grappling somewhat and focus on striking after the New Year. Say I train boxing 3-4 times a week, how long before I should spar? What are your opinions?

Get in there now. Get someone with experience that will work with you, not just try to see how bad they can beat you. Not everyone is suited for that role.
Here, we will put some in the ring the first night. Wakes them up in a hurry to what is needed and tells us what type of training is best for that individual.
We will do some light sparring the last 15 min. of every workout.

Just bear in mind that sparring is still different from fighting.


Sparring is an absolute necessity. I agree
that someone should have the basic footwork,
strikes and defenses down before heavy
sparring. Ideally there should be a
progression from pad work to timing to
specialized sparring then finally to full-contact.
Focus mitt/thai pad drills should resemble sparring as much as possible. This helps develop
relaxation for sparring. Timing is also
extremely valuable for relaxation and working
mechanics. I've personally learned a lot
more while timing with a partner than
full out sparring.



Sounds to me like drivel from someone who is scared to get in there and mix.

In any event - you wrong on several counts.

Hmmm I still disagree with sparring being the most important part of training. Very few people "learn" during hard sparring. You learn how to put things together on pads and get your reflexes solid. Sparring is VERY important but second to pad work with regards to fighter preparation and fitness. YOU CANNOT SPAR FULL CONTACT. People here saying they do I think are full of shit. Anything beyond 50% contact is too much for sparring. If a guy hits me hard (like 75-100%) I am going to KO his ass, because I can learn from a bloody nose just as well as I can from a broken jaw, and still be able to train the next day. Like I said take a guy who has a given game and limits in sparring/fighting, how does he get better? Spar more? No the only way to push in new techniques and combos into a fighting/sparring arsenal is by doing specific pad drills which model sparring. This makes your reactions instinctive. We have a saying, "when you look your worst on the pads, that will be your best sparring, when you look your worst sparring, that will be your best in the ring, so makes the worst you can do on the pads look good."


Though I agree with you regarding the importance of padwork, I have to agree with Joe Stagner regarding sparring. The bottom line is that you cannot learn to fight doing padwork.

I look at it like this: Padwork teaches you your combinations. It allows you the controlled, but realistic environment to learn your techniques, how to put them together, and how to perform them correctly and quickly.

But, until you spar, you will never learn how to correctly APPLY those skills! Ask any boxing coach, or even any boxer: Anyone can look like a champ on a bag. Sparring is the only way to develop the timing and REALISTIC defensive skills.

I *almost* agree with you regarding sparring not being done any more than 50%... most of the time. For instance, when I have my students spar, I make sure that they spar in a controlled manner. I break up sparring sessions by technique: Kicking only, Clinching and Knees only, and Boxing only. More times than not, they are instructed to work on speed and timing only, not power.

However, you have to let them bang from time to time. They will never learn how to cope with getting hit for real if they don't do it in class. I'd rather my students learn to take a solid shot under supervision than to learn about it in the ring when its too late.

Khun Kao

People hit back whereas the bags don't !! Most people seem to agree that when you're sparring we are not out their to kill each other just to learn .