Sparring type 2: close combat

The second type of sparring that we analyze is the close combat. This type of confrontation must be done with right care because, depending on the intensity, can have different levels of risk; the idea is to develop skills such as timing, reflexes, speed, counter-attack, adaptability, resilience, flexibility, etc. (force and legs mobility are very low).

Let’s see what are the rules of this type of sparring.


  • The 2 practitioners are one against the other with their relative guards
  • The 2 contenders have a semi-stretched arm that (respectively) touches the other’s wrist
  • 90% of the fighting takes place with our arms but it does not exclude small and “soft” actions by the other parts of the body
  • Levers and constrain techniques are performed but they have to immediately be converted (no submission time)
  • The movements must be soft, fast, solids, fluids, liquids, elastic (etc.) according to the necessity
  • The fight is not to be imagined only as a game parry against parry (we have to get to optimal targets)
  • The combat must always be imagined as real
  • The battle can last more than 15 minutes (minimum 2 minutes)

What we can do:

  • We can make small steps but without losing contact with the opponent
  • We can hit the opponent but without power (so “soft”)
  • We can parry, dodge, channel, lock, deceive (etc.)
  • We can use punches, pushes, fingers, grabbing, small kicks, hands chains, levers, constraints, etc. (In a very controlled way, no momentum)
  • We can go lower, rotate, jump, etc. but that’s not the focus of the exercise

What we can not do:

  • We can not lose contact with the opponent (when it happen we must stop and start again)
  • We can not hit at full power
  • It is not allowed to bring any type of technique as to cause damage
  • We can not do projections or go for ground fighting
  • We can not lead shots on pressure points (lethal, pain, etc.)
  • We can not use rigid weapons longer than 25cm

Main objectives:

  • Improve sensitivity of arms, wrists (etc.) and the relative mental reaction to their stimulus
  • Connect / transform / concatenate attack and defense (own and opponent’s)
  • Switch from one technique to another at high speed without esitations
  • Improve reflexes, coordination and simultaneous actions of attack / defense
  • Know the limits and potentials of our limbs (strength, elasticity, etc.)
  • Learn to deceive the opponent through our body
  • Learn to read, imagine and prevent opponent’s movements
  • Gain precision, fuidity and spatial intelligence
  • Learn to recognize good space / time to act
  • Learn to do not waste energy using rigidity, force against force, etc.


  • No protection (possibly a mouthpiece but only as additional security)


  • In some rare cases we can run a 3 person match (1 vs 2 or 1vs1vs1)
  • Sometimes we can use small soft weapons training (eg. plastic knife)
  • In the case of skill disparities we can apply some handicap to the more experienced practitioner (more about this later)


  • It ‘s better not to continue the battle when the quality and speed of the movements dramatically decreases (we should not get used to express low performances)
  • Doing only this type of sparring is useless, it should be combined with the other types

In future articles of this series we will see the other types of training fights.

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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