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For example I'd much rather take a kick to the leg than to the head, or even to the body. Is there a way I can incorporate this into my style to minimize risk of damaging head shots?

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    if you maintain a higher guard you will increase the likelihood of people striking lower and reduce the likelihood of people trying to strike your head - but this will come at the cost of giving a target away and probably a much greater risk of losing the spar.. which seems counter productive, if you really don't want to get hit in the head - spar in a ruleset that forbids it!
    – Collett89
    Apr 15, 2019 at 7:29
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    See here and here and here and here for similar questions.
    – JohnP
    Apr 15, 2019 at 14:10
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    @Collett89 That's actually great advice for new folks. Give up the leg and body damage. You're going to suck at defending it anyway. Learn to defend your head first, then work from there. You'll also learn to throw counters against body/leg strikes.
    – coinbird
    Apr 16, 2019 at 14:52

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With any luck, you'll already be able to decide whether you want to fight regularly, whether as an amateur or professional.

If you want to fight, then you'll have to expose yourself to the inevitable head trauma that accompanies inense sparring. As cmpunk advises, you can mitigate this by honing your defensive skills and by adopting an evasive style. There is a big difference between the damage sustained by a fighter who wades through kicks and punches to reach his target and the fighter who parries and slips, waiting for - and setting up - openings.

On the other hand, if you don't want to become a serious fighter (ie. If protecting yourself from head trauma is primary), then you can spar in ways that minimise head trauma, either by banning head contact altogether, or by mandating light contact.

Consider the proportion of fighters who achieve any level of professional success and then ask yourself whether you want to confront those odds - and sustain the associated damage - or whether you merely want to have fun and keep fit.

A note: protective head gear has been found to be less safe than might be imagined. The cushioning of impacts may enable a fighter to endure more impacts than they would if they were knocked out, and as such may actually increase head trauma, so don't let the fact you use headgear lull you into a false sense of security. When you use headgear, your brain still shakes inside your skull, and if you're dehydrated, the protective fluid inside your cranium becomes diminished, worsening the impact of each blow.

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Defense is key if you don't want to get hit as much. Every shot you take to the head adds up in the future. In pro wrestling they call it a bump counter, where the saying goes that you only have so many bumps on your bump counter until you have to hang it up. How often your legs or body get targeted instead of your head is more so up to your opponent and how they choose to fight, the most you can do is focus on defense and minimizing how much you get hit to the head.

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