I had the chance to watch my son sparring last night. He is currently a green belt and he is developing well as a student of the martial arts.

His club practices jiyu kumite. Jiyu kumite is Japanese for free sparring. The basic format sees two competitors fighting for points. The points are awarded by a centre judge with accompanying judges. The competitor with the most points at some predetermined limit is deemed the winner.

The target area is from the waist and up to the front of the head or body. Points get awarded for hand or feet techniques to those areas when the technique is not blocked by the defending person. My son’s club uses a structured point sparring system. There is a centre judge with a number of other corner judges. The centre judge will call start and stop and any judge can call a point. When either the centre judge calls stop, or a judge calls point, there is a judges’ call to determine if a point should be awarded. And majority rules.

My son is a pretty serious competitor with a strong sense of fair play and he challenged the centre judge at every call last night. He is learning some important lessons. Others will make calls about your performance and those calls may well seem unfair. You have to accept the calls and not let them distract you from developing your potential.

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