Sooner or later, many of you will get interested in free sparring. However the difference between training techniques in fixed sequences and free sparring is huge.
Sparring may be fun, even if you do not know what you are doing, but there are some other forms of training which will prepare you, and which are better suited to train efficiently. Trying to get better one thing at a time is efficient. Concentrating on only one thing in free sparring is hard, because there are actually a hundred things which draw off your attention.
So here are some training methods which allow you to get comfortable with additional freedom step by step:
Fixed Sequence with Cooperative Partners
This is what we show you in most of the videos. You do a specific technique or sequence of movements, again and again, until you can do it correctly in every aspect. Both partners help each other and allow each other to do their part of the sequence successfully. Such actions, plays, or scenarios are what the German masters called Stuecke.
Techniques by Proactive Choice
For this exercise, you need a drill which is not strictly linear, but defines two or more possibilities from which a partner must choose at a specific time.
For example, if you & partner work on a combination of two attacks, the first one could be fixed, but the attacker has to choose between Umschnappen and Duplieren on the second one. So the drill has two different endings, depending on the attacker's choice.
This kind of drill helps you to directly execute the different techniques you already trained. At first it may take time to combine your martial choice with its required movement, but with enough repetition, the fencing techniques will just flow from your hands.
Techniques by Reactive Choice
There is no technique which can be successful in every situation, so you must be able to adapt your actions in milliseconds, according to the situation. Of course your partner is the primary factor who tries to change the situation to his favor.
For example: You get into the bind. Your partner is either hard or soft at your blade. If he is soft, then you do Technique A; if he is hard, then you do Technique B.
In this type of sparring, one partner typically gets a specific task while the other one tries to deal with this by any technique he may come up with. Example tasks:
"Defend yourself only in guard Ochs"
"Try to force your opponent into the bind"
"Attack your opponent in Vor with Ansetzen when he changes guards"
Both partners may do any technique from their repertoire. Of course there are still rules.
For example: Targets which are not protected by proper equipment are usually forbidden.