Ronin Martial Arts Center

(formerly MBC)

Over 30 years teaching experience


Children, Teens & Adults


Point Sparring (tournament) vs Contact Sparring (class)

As an RMAC student, you know we take pride the kickboxing lineage of our school.  When sparring in class, whether slow or rounds with gear, you know that sometimes it is to your advantage to wait until your opponent throws a technique in order to block and counter.  Sometimes, you may even ‘chi-up’ – let them get a strike in so that you can use that to your advantage and throw a few techniques now that they are in range.  Usually our rounds last one to three minutes – regardless of the number of strikes thrown by either opponent.  There is no clear winner – it’s all about each individual refining their blocking/striking technique.

With point sparring, as is done in most tournaments, it’s a different story.  If you wait or take a hit – often the point is called in favor of your opponent – whether or not you followed up with after their strike.  We recognize that can be a very frustrating shift from what we normally do in class.  It takes the mantra of ‘hit but don’t be hit’ to the extreme.

Tips for point sparring:

1.       Before you begin, have your mouth guard in, groin cup on (boys), & make sure your gear is on tight

2.       Do not hesitate to throw that first strike

3.       Do not stop throwing technique until you hear ref call ‘break’

4.       Remember to use your weapon with the longest reach (usually your legs)

5.       Vary your approach, if you always throw the same thing, you will become predicatable

6.       If your belt falls off or your gear comes off DO NOT STOP – you can get it later

7.       Courtesy – follow all rules of contact and conduct, show respect and good sportsmanship (as you always should anyway.  Remember, you are representing your school and Sensei, if you lose, use it to learn a lesson.  If you win, be humble!

Why we practice contact sparring and not point sparring during class:

As far as learning real life self-defense and fighting techniques, point sparring is not ideal.  It teaches that the first person to strike wins, but in real life, no one is going to call “BREAK” and send you each back to your starting points.  If you get that first strike in, but aren’t prepared to deal with the repercussions and retaliation, the fight will not likely end in your favor.  Also, the physical conditioning of constant contact sparring multiple rounds encourages students to put together combinations and also builds cardiovascular endurance and strength.

There is value in occasionally practicing point sparring techniques, including thinking outside the box, and getting out of the me-you-me-you striking rut you may be in.  However, recognize that it is more geared for ‘sport’ and has limited real life application value.  RMAC is a ‘fighting school’, geared toward real-world application, not for tournaments.