Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture

Fun – Safety – Learning

Kickboxing MMA Sparring culture differs from club to club and one is not superior to the other, unless of course, they are bullies. But that’s a whole other blog post


One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to training a combat art, be it Kickboxing – MMA – Self Defence and so on, is the belief that one has to spar like Tyson every single session.

People are all too often put off from trying a martial art because of this belief, but it’s just not true.

Our Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture

At Function First sparring is done with safety and longevity in mind. By this we mean we want you on the mats in 20 years time enjoying your training and getting healthier.

Once you know you can take a punch, there is little if nothing gained from hitting or being hit hard from that point onwards. If you have a competition coming up we, of course, step it up a little, but still, it’s controlled and monitored by your coach.

Some professional fighters such as Donald Cerrone don’t spar at all

“Sparring is all I did, that’s what I used to do. I thought that was getting ready for a fight, would just be throwing down. Now I don’t spar at all, and all I do is drill, because drilling is the most important thing you can do.”

Now were not going quite that far with our Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture but it’s fascinating yes? A pro fighter who doesn’t spar. There is most definitely something to be learnt from that. Maybe just maybe sparring isn’t as important as we all believed.

Me too, when I began my martial journey, sparring was what it was all about but now with twenty years of coaching behind me, I can see learning in our classes much improved when people are having fun and not simply surviving bombs.

Our Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture Tips & Club Rules

  • If your partner is turning away, flinching. Reduce the intensity and build up slowly, we are in no rush
  • If your partner hits too hard, hit back softer, hitting back harder escalates into a brawl
  • Focus on your partner’s mistakes and tune them up, this will make you better in the long run
  • Notice I say partner, not opponent, this is a classroom, this is training.
  • No head guards, see below
  • SSL = Smiling Sweating Learning. We’re looking for smiles and laughs when sparring, this is a good sign, things are going well and all are learning

Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture

So, if during class your partner is flinching and turning away because they feel overwhelmed. Well, you learnt you overwhelmed them and they learnt they were overwhelmed.

Now this may have its place but its a small percentage of your time while training any combat sport


We produce kickboxing winners

Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture TIMETABLE HERE

We work on a simple principle in our martial arts classes and our kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture

  • 20% failure
  • 80% success

In reality, you need a coach who understands this and watches carefully, it’s too much for the sparring pair to track this and it’s still an instinctive science from the coach with experience.

Of course, you can’t both be getting 80% wins, someone has to get the 20%. Though with specific parameters set in technical sparring it’s not only possible. It forces you to hard wire the new work and drill it to life

This means you reinforce a positive learning experience. If you are failing more than 20% of the time then you are going to hard. This reinforces a negative training experience, slow down, study and find your opportunities. Too many hard sessions mean you rely on willpower to get you off the sofa and into the club. Especially when you feel like you have been hit by a car week after week.

Willpower is finite

Even SAS or Navy Seal elite fighters have a certain amount of will power. When its burnt up it’s burnt up. We are all the same, night after night of heavy sparring can only go on for so long. We all eventually feel broken and lose motivation

80% success during sparring sessions drives you and motivates you to keep going. Keep growing and enjoying your martial arts training.

Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture Head Guards

Here’s another much-misunderstood area

Head guards are not really reducing head trauma and can, in fact, increase it. They are banned in our club and they are banned in boxing in the Olympics for men and have been since 2016.

It’s a little bizarre that they have not yet banned them for women seeing as they have recognised the dangers.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “AIBA provided medical and technical data that showed the number of concussions is lower without headgear. They have done a lot of research in the last three years”.

Head Guards For MMA – Self Defence

This is something we have never done. The simple fact is for arts where you have takedowns or throws and head control work. The head guards twist the neck, get caught up and cause injury. So we have steered clear since we began.

Kickboxing MMA Sparring Culture Summary

Sparring is an exciting part of martial training in all combat arts. Be it MMA – Self Defence – Kickboxing – Ju Jitsu and so on it really enhances your focus and confidence when done safely and coached carefully.

It gives you time to pressure test your years on the mats performing drills and pad work. It gives you belief in your ability and toughens you mentally and physically. Which translates from on the mats to off the mats nicely.

Sparring with us, make you not break you, it is healthy and enjoyable.

You should be wanting to come back for more.