I find that sometimes when I'm sparring, particularly if I'm sparring someone around my own level of ability, I can get quite riled up - particularly if I take a heavy hit. This gives me a serious energy boost: I'll throw more techniques, faster and harder. It also makes me more reckless: I'm more likely to take a hit if I think it will lead to an opening. My techniques, and more worryingly, my tactics, get sloppier. My footwork suffers.

Some of these results are good, some are bad, and some could go either way. I feel like there's a great deal of potential in harnessing this intensity properly: the increased speed and power I can manage when the adrenalin is really pumping is substantial.

Are there any mental techniques I can use to focus my emotions, to get more of the good results and fewer of the bad? Are there particular meditation techniques which can improve my control of this sort of thing? Or is this a dead-end, and I should find a less-emotive way to tap into my full potential?

2 Answers 2


It seems you are suffering a rush of adrenaline when you get hit, hence why you speed up and can take (or are prepared to take) further hits.

Overall, this rush of adrenaline is bad and should be avoided. Adrenaline is great when little old ladies need to lift crashed cars off people or you need to sprint into a burning building to save someone. While sparring you should be trying to achieve a state of mushin (no mind, knowing without knowing) when you spar. This is a state where you can just react without thinking while still retaining full control of your technique.*

You also shouldn't be willing to take a hit to create an opening unless you are training for a tournament or the ring. During sparring openings will present themselves constantly - imagine your opponent's arm extended as a punch, that extened arm is itself an opening. You simply need to know and understand what you can do with these openings. Trying to force an opening would indicate that there is possibly no fight happening (your opponent is not attacking), in which case the correct defence (in a strictly traditional sense) is simply to hold your ground in the ready stance. Of course two people just assuming the ready stance and then staring at each other doesn't make for particularly interesting sparring no matter how technically correct it is.

*To be honest, this is actually a little scary an unnerving the first few times you experience it.


There is a good article I came across on this subject....


Some points + some of mine

  • you don't need to win! meaning, the mindset about what you think sparring is is going to effect how you spar and what you will get from it. It will effect your emotional reaction to getting hit.

  • if you spar like you need to win, you will only ever play your A game, which means you aren't going to play with stuff you aren't very good at doing.

  • The feeling of getting riled up just because you are sparring with someone of your level means your ego is involved. This is why it gets messy. I think this is common. Best thing to deal with is generally the instructor, I think you need to be taught how to spar at 50/60%, often its just said "hey, just go 60%!" and everyone just slowly ratchets up the intensity. But sparring drills can be used to get people to 'losing' without losing face.

  • 2
    Could you expend your answer a little? Just a link without background is bad form. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 10:51
  • "You don't need to win in sparring" -- that should eventually become a FAQ answer here. This is the third question I've seen related to getting agitated during sparring. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 16:52
  • In my case (and, ironically, this may sound egotistic!) it definitely isn't ego - just the thrill and challenge of sparring someone my level. Sparring my instructor isn't a challenge: more a chance to learn. Sparring someone rather less good than me is a chance to stretch their ability: to let them attack, or challenge their defense. It's when they're about my own level that we can really challenge each other, and that's what I find most enjoyable.
    – Rophuine
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 14:34
  • @Rophuine "ego" is very tricky. If you feel the need to justify yourself, as you did here, that's ego. But I get what you mean though: you don't necessarily want to prove your self worth by beating down someone; the thrill of a challenging opponent is enough. Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 18:43
  • I was clarifying, not justifying - but I see what you mean.
    – Rophuine
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 22:56

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