Overcoming the Fears of Sparring Pt. 1

 Overcoming the Fears of Sparring Pt. 1

Sparring is a unique opportunity to develop skills of both physical and mental control, learn important life lessons and develop confidence.

However do you feel jittery about the thought of your child joining the action on the mat? Here are just a few testaments to the benefits of sparing as well as some ways to work through any misconceptions. 

Already gung-ho on the idea of sparring but your child is the one filled with worry? Check out our pt. 2 of this series: “How to Talk to Your Child About Sparring” above this one.


From the waiting room, the sparring classes may appear chaotic and disorganized. Parents often fear that their child may get injured, become overwhelmed and shaken, or develop aggressive attitudes. These fears are understandable for the parent who wants their child to be happy and safe, and with a little knowledge these fears can be overcome.

To start, your child is much more likely to get hurt on the playground, playing soccer, or riding their bike. When sparring, there is great emphasis placed on control. Every day in class the students are reminded to be present and focused. The goal it to tap one’s opponent, rather than knock the wind out of them. Whenever a more experienced student is paired with a beginner, you can always see an instructor reminding the higher belt to practice disciplining themselves and to practice patience and perfecting techniques rather than speed and power. Also, getting the occasional bonk can help build resilience, grit and other valuable characteristics. There is always risk of bodily harm in any activity, yet the benefits of sparing far outweigh the dangers. 

Hear what some of our parents have to say! 

“I say it has been the best thing we have done for our family” -Matthew Kennedy

“I did not think karate would change them, but it did. She is a lot more confidant now, even outside of the dojo” — Eliane Nonni

“I really see her as more confidant [outside of the dojo]” — Stefania Santiago

There is the chance that your child may become frightened during sparing, however continuing with practice can teach your child how to stay calm and focused during stressful situations. To be honest sparing can be scary when one does not know what to do. But by continuing practice, your child can gain experience overcoming fear and thus develop confidence, persistence, delayed gratification and how to control their emotions. 

Sparring helps develop respect, responsibility and an attitude of self improvement.

If you are worried that your child may develop unhealthy aggression from the experience of sparing, you can rest assured that your child will be taught how to control themselves and learn that the entire practice of sparring is based upon respect.

At the beginning of each match, students touch their gloves together almost like a “bro fist” to acknowledge the opponent and agree that there will be no malice within the fight. Again, during nearly every lesson, you can watch Shihan or another instructor reminding the class about the principle of responsibility, where instead of resenting an opponent for hitting one in the head, the student looks at themselves to realize that they did not have their hands up, and that is why they got that little wake-up bonk. This way, your child can keep good relationships by bypassing resentment while being motivated to improve themselves, as well as being more motivated to improve their own sparring skills.

There is much to gain from sparring, and just the act of trying it represents success by stepping outside of the comfort zone and accepting a challenge! 

Hope to see you on the mat! 

Photos and post by E-tak M

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