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Sparring Etiquette

I recently read an article about UFC welterweight fighter Rick Story, where he was accused of continuing to punish a downed team member during practice.

Story replied with his side of the incident, and we are left with a sort of “he said,” “she said” dynamic.

Working for an armbar

This situation left me thinking about the etiquette that comes with training among team members.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with people over the years who show no interest in trying to display some sort of macho dominance. That should not be what this sport is about.

If someone is just looking to get in the ring and swing haymakers looking for the knockout, then they are missing the point. The goal should always be to work together in a way that you both benefit from.

What I have always enjoyed about people I have trained with is that there is never any bragging or withholding of information. Whenever I’ve been caught in a submission, guys are quick to let me know what I did wrong, and how to avoid the same mistake in the future.

 

A couple of happy Irishmen after some grappling

Long time friend Jon Pellegrini and myself have been sparring together for a few years now. He has one of the meanest left hooks that I have ever been hit with. I dread getting hit with it. Whenever that hook connects with the side of my body I always take quick steps back in hopes of creating distance to give myself time for recovery (or as done recently simply drop into the fetal position…).

When he knows I’m hurt he doesn’t continue to target the same area, which ties in with the etiquette I mentioned earlier.

Of course sparring sessions should be elevated if you have a fight coming up, and you should be pushing your teammate. But at the end of the day the martial arts have been built around the idea of respect, and that always needs to be remembered.

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