Sparring type 2: close combat

Close quarters combat

The second type of sparring that we analyze (read Sparring type 1: slow motion fighting) is close combat. This type of confrontation must be done with the 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.). The use of muscular force and legs mobility is instead voluntarily limited.

A note by Master Kongling – In terms of self-defense, to learn to manage close quarters combat can be very useful; however, in a real situation, it is not so strange to be forced to pass directly to the ground fighting (read Ground fighting) or to be maintained at distance by our opponents. What I am trying to say is that even it is important to understand the dynamics of this kind of fight, it is only a part of the whole and if we focus only on this we will have a big disadvantage.

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:

  • The 2 practitioners are one against the other with their relative guard stances (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  • The 2 contenders have a semi-stretched arm (with an open hand) that respectively touches the other’s wrist (left with left or right with right)
  • 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 (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch)
  • The fight must not be imagined only as a game parry against parry (we have to aim optimal targets)
  • The combat must always be imagined as real (even if slightly static in terms of space occupied)
  • The battle can last more than 15 minutes (minimum 2 minutes)

Rules and goals

What we can do:

  • We can make small steps but without losing contact with the opponent
  • We can hit the opponent but without power
  • We can parry, dodge, channel, lock, deceive (etc., read Chin Na)
  • 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 perform projections or go for ground fighting
  • We can not lead real shots on pressure points (this is not the focus of the exercise)
  • We cannot use the same technique 2 times consecutively

Main objectives:

  • Improve sensitivity of arms, wrists (etc.) and the relative mental reaction to their stimulation
  • Connect / transform / concatenate attack and defense (ours and the opponent’s ones)
  • Switch from one technique to another at high speed without hesitations (trying to do not interrupt the flow)
  • Improve reflexes, coordination and simultaneous tactical actions of attack / defense / counterattack
  • Understand the limits and potentials of our limbs (strength, elasticity, etc.)
  • Learn to instinctively deceive the opponent through our body
  • Learn to read, imagine and prevent the opponent’s movements
  • Gain precision, fluidity and spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat)
  • Learn to recognize good space / time to act in a rapidly evolving situation
  • Learn to do not waste energy using rigidity, force against force, etc.
  • Learn trapping (how to escape, to avoid to suffer levers, etc.)
  • Make our body used to do not insist on a technique that it is not working
  • Learn to do not lose contact (like it happens with Wing Chun’s sticky hands)

Details of practice


  • No protection (possibly a mouthpiece but only as additional security)
  • We can not involve the use of rigid (training) weapons if longer than 25cm


  • In some rare cases, we can run a 3 person match (1 vs 2 or 1vs1vs1) but this is not ideal
  • Sometimes we can use small soft training weapons (eg. plastic knife or the rope)
  • 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 ones

In future articles of this series, we will see the other types of training fights (read Sparring type 3: body defensive automation).

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What difficulties do you face in managing the short distance?

Author: Master Kongling

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