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In addition to sparring with practitioners of my own school/style, I’d like to spar with practitioners of different styles, as I feel this would benefit my fighting ability in the long run.

How should this be done in terms of etiquette?

Initially the idea of showing up at different dojos/gyms for the purpose of sparring a lone might come across as some outsider presenting themselves to “practice”, aka. challenge. Which is reminiscent of Kung Fu movies in general. I don’t want to be “that guy”. I just want to practice with other stylist without having to sign up for their school.

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Yeah, don't be that guy. You don't want to show up at a school asking for a fight. Even if you make it perfectly clear it's "just sparring", many people will see it as a challenge, and you're going to get a lot of angry looks and possibly get hurt.

As I understand it, you're interested in an exchange of knowledge. You're not looking for a fight. You're looking for like-minded people who want to share what they know and see what others know.

Most people are not as open minded as you. And most instructors won't care to teach you anything, because they're busy with their paying students. But there should be a good amount of interest out there for exactly what you're interested in.

When I was a university student, some of the black belts from various martial arts clubs would get together once a month or so outside of their regular classes to put on a little mini workshop for each other. We called it, "Black Belt Club". Haha.

The topic could be anything. For example, I once instructed a class on Judo breakfalls. We would rotate through different people (all black belts in different styles). Each month, someone else would be the instructor. Everyone got to try a sample of what the other martial arts were doing.

So that's what I recommend. Find a bunch of advanced level students or instructors in different martial arts. Meet at a neutral place on some set schedule. Emphasize that the purpose of this is to exchange ideas and learn. Make it free, unless you have to pay to use the facilities somewhere.

Your main problem will be finding a location that has mats, if you need them. We would meet at our university's wrestling room, which had mats already in there. You can try renting out floor space at a gymnastics school during off-peak hours.

I'd look into getting some legal waivers ahead of time, by the way.

Hope that helps.

  • This is a great idea. When you say legal waivers, do you mean there should be some sort of legal documentation absolving each other from litigation, in-case someone gets hurt? – junfanbl Oct 18 at 15:29
  • @junfanbl Yes, that's it exactly. You don't want to be sued for $1 Million because someone got paralyzed accidentally, and accidents do happen. Pretty much all martial arts schools in the U.S. have you sign a waiver prior to starting classes. You can't even step onto the mats without doing that. So what you can do is go to a local martial arts school or two and ask to see a copy of the waivers they have new students sign. They all have a stack of them, so that should be okay to ask for. Then copy it for your own use. If you wanted, you could have a lawyer look it over. – Steve Weigand Oct 18 at 18:03
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In my job I have travelled a lot both in Britain and Overseas and I have found 2 things which run through Martial Arts schools when I have visited; welcoming and competitive. I always present myself to the Instructor, give my credentials and ask if they mind if I join their class. They have always said yes.

Welcoming - I have been made feel very welcome in every class I have taken with some pupils being immediately friendly and some more reserved but not unfriendly (their instructor has shown the way)

Competitive - I have been told (after the class) that the training sessions were harder than normal. When sparring was done, my partners were always keen to show their skills and so I had to work very hard, no cruising just full on. It was/is challenging and fun.

So in conclusion, introduce yourself to the Instructor and be prepared to work harder than normal.

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