Sparring type 1: slow motion fighting

A first approach with sparring

The first type of sparring that we analyze is the slow-motion fighting. This kind of “clash” is the least dangerous, it favors technique, balance, tactics and strategy but completely excludes speed, stress, conditioning and power.

A note by Master Kongling – Sparring is very different from street fighting (read The 6 types of martial clash) but most people fear it in the same way (and in some case more than a self-defense situation). The truth is that a sparring session, if performed with respect / intelligence, it is not dangerous and does not provide damages or injuries, winners or losers. In any case, it is the only way we have to truly learn how to fight (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons) because, even if it is not real, it is the best simulation we could afford. Said this, the exercise we are going to describe, represents a good path to gradually approach with the basic concepts of this practice.

After having read the general rules of sparring and respect (read How to do sparring and Dojo (guan): rules, respect and etiquette), let’s see what are the peculiarities of this type of sparring.

Description of the exercise

How this kind of sparring works:

  • Before engaging our partner we can move at the speed that we prefer
  • When we are in contact (touch distances), all the movements should be at “slow motion” (both for the attacker, both for the defender)
  • The “slow motion” speed must remain as much as possible constant (no accelerations or decelerations)
  • The movements must be fluid and precise, we should  never stop the flow
  • The combat must always be imagined as real
  • Who suffers the blows must honestly “simulate” the relative reaction
  • The battle can last more than 60 minutes (minimum 10 minutes)

Rules and goals

What we can do:

  • We can touch the opponent but without any power / intensity
  • We can lead shots on pressure points (lethal, pain, etc.) but, obviously, without causing damages
  • We can use punches, kicks, hands chains, projections (harder), levers, constraints, etc. (in a very controlled way, no momentum)

What we cannot do:

  • We are not allowed to perform any kind of block parries
  • We may not use the force (we must accommodate the movements)
  • It is not allowed to bring any type of technique so as to cause damage
  • We cannot stop the flow of the fight until its end (even in error case)

Main objectives:

  • Learn gradually to strategically analyze the situation and what happens around us (quick reasoning)
  • Apply in a “realistic” way techniques otherwise too dangerous / complex (read Chin Na)
  • Learn to use fluid movements such as those of the Dragon Motion (read Dragon Motion: the swirling movements)
  • Learn to prevail through tactic and technique instead of speed, timing and power
  • Gain precision, body dislocation control and spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat)
  • Learn to recognize good opportunities to prevail
  • Collaterally to improve our standing stamina

Details of practice

Protections and safety:

  • No protection
  • If the practitioners are not able to control their speed the instructor should stop the practice


  • Established the teams (eg. 1 vs 4) we can run a multiple clash
  • We can use training weapons (only if they are at the same time fully operational and completely harmless)
  • In the case of skill disparities, we can apply some handicap to the more experienced practitioner (more about this later)


  • Sparring cannot be performed by people that cannot control themselves (generally, in 6 Dragons Kung Fu, we start it in the second phase of learning, read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  • This kind of combat is good for the first approach to sparring but it is important even for experts
  • Doing only this type of sparring is useless, it should be combined with the other types
  • This kind of sparring can teach how and when to use some of the most dangerous and complex techniques
  • The effectiveness of this practice is based on the total renunciation of the idea of prevailing over the other and on maintaining a constant speed of execution

In future articles of this series, we will see the other types of training fights (read Sparring type 2: close combat).

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Can you perform the exercise without losing the flow?

Author: Master Kongling

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