Post image for When to Drill and How to Spar.  Win Fights with Confidence.

When to Drill and How to Spar. Win Fights with Confidence.

by Tom Reynolds on February 18, 2011

I’ve trained at dozens of different schools from all over. No matter the size, language, or culture of the school, the students that have the patience to learn how and when to drill technique vs spar live seem to get good much faster. There is a time, place, and way to do both.  That is what we’re covering in this article.

Why Drill Techniques?

The fastest way to master anything is through quality repetition.  When you look at the top fighters and other athletes, drilling is the weapon of choice for mastery.

I remember one of my first boxing coaches telling me about his first six months of training.  He was in San Diego with one of the best boxing coaches in the United States.  His trainer told him that for the first six months, he was only allowed to do one thing: Use his Jab. To this day, 25 years later, he has one of the best jabs I’ve seen (or been hit with).

The same goes for MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai and the other contact sports. If you want to learn how to kick, drill it often.  If you want to learn how to throw someone with a Seoi Nage, drill it often.

How and When to Drill Techniques

Drilling can be done a number of different ways.  Some can be done on your own while others require a partner.  With a partner, techniques can be done back and forth.  You can also practice setting up a throw, sweep, or submission a few times then finishing after you practice the setup a few times.

If you want to see some other MMA, Muay Thai, Judo, and BJJ techniques to drill, there are 50+ Technique Videos on the Couch2Cage Youtube Channel. Make sure to subscribe.

Why Spar?

Sparring, whether its for grappling, striking or take downs, is the way you can learn timing and how to add the techinques you drill to your game.

Sparring directly translates to competing.

The goal is to leave your ego out of it and make sure that your partner is to. Set the ground rules before hand.

Light Sparring

Light sparring is where you can really add your techniques and try new things out.  It’s hard to find good partners willing to leave competition out of it, but it can be huge for your game.

BJJ legend Marcelo Garcia and Ryan Hall ground sparring light:

K-1 Kickboxing legend Ernesto Hoost sparring light:

Medium Sparring and Hard Sparring

Medium sparring can be defined as sparring as hard as you can with control and without harming your partner. Think 100% Speed with around 20% Power.

Medium sparring adds competition and the emotions that come with it.  This is where you see if techniques can really be pulled off.

Hard sparring is pretty much fighting without trying to kill your partner. Hold back on dirty techniques, but pretty much give it your all. I’d only recommend hard sparring for the advanced.

Anderson Silva boxing medium to hard from 3:45 on:

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  • Lou Dobb

    Great, great post Eric!

    I especially liked seeing some of the big guys in MMA sparing.

  • vince

    Stephan Kesting just posted this the other day re: drills . . . Kinda cool.

    • Eric

      Great find. Kesting always has good stuff.

  • vince

    PS Marcelo and Ryan Hall just made my day. That was art.

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