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More than one gym (the Wat and Church Street, for instance) has expressed concerns over supervision. Is there going to be a trained professional there to make sure that there are no injuries, that the sparring is kept within a certain range of contact and intensity? Plainly and simply, gyms don’t want their potential fighters getting hurt. And who wants to get hurt? This raises really important points, and please do comment or email your thoughts on this. It’s something we all should come to consensus on.

Anecdote: I started sparring for the first time a few weeks before the WKA, down at the Wat.  I was sparring with girls much bigger than me and when I came back to my trainer – pretty stoked on the whole thing – he was upset by the big, deep bruise on my thigh.  He wanted to know “what were they doing to you?!”  I can see how, in the absence of my trainer having experienced the session himself, he was concerned for me in a way he would not have been had he watched the girls kick the hell out of my leg.  And I would never have learned to block, otherwise.

There are a few strains of thought that gave birth to the idea of a sparring circle. One was that, as we all have been trained with sparring and know how to do it, there’s no reason why we should not be able to take this practice out of the limited hours and (often) male-centric sparring at gyms.  We said to ourselves, Hell, we can even just meet up in a park and get some time in! It would be nice. Generally, there is the sense that a few isolated women here, and few isolated women there, if they all get together they make a different kind of group. So there is something to being independent of any ONE supervising person or buisness that makes getting together special, unique.  That said, it is wise to have someone with an eye for these sports watching out for us when we, in the ring and in the moment, may be unable to judge the safety of each fighter.

We have to ask ourselves, can we find the right level of contact and safety just though talking to each other, and giving each person what they want. We have boxers who want to come and just box, and Muay Thai women would have to just box with them. We have women who have an injury, so they can just kick spar. That’s great too. Some gyms spar very, very lightly, without headgear, so this too needs to be respected (though we require headgear, mouthpiece and shinguards). A certain level of responsibility falls on us, the need to respect both the person who is opposite you, but also the whole spirit of coming together.

But the ultimate question of supervision, as in having someone around, watching who is experienced and knowledgable, this is also VERY important. It can only be helpful to have knowledgeable eyes on what is going on. We can only speak of the location that we have picked for our first meeting, thus far Ardon Sweet Science. Greg Ardon will definitely be there, it is his gym – and he said he’ll keep an eye on us – and we can only assume that his calm, cool demeanor will pervade the entire place. Additionally, Sarah, over at Church Street Boxing has invited us out to Rockaway Beach where Chris volunteers to watch over the group. It would be really nice to spar outside in the Summer, I’m sure. So perhaps the answer is that each time we post the place we are meeting we can list the trainers that will be there, and each woman can make an educatated decision as to whether they would like to come. Also, why not come down, see how it feels, experience it, and then decide for yourself how comfortable you feel. What we imagine is that there is hopefully going to be continuous sparring, but that you can sit out anytime you like. Indeed there might be some girls you just don’t want to spar with (they spar too light, or too hard, or the vibe isn’t right), and you just take a break.  Watching sparring can be just as educational as experiencing it.

What’s important, I think, about the group as a whole, is that we are the primary focus and the thing itself.  Without any single one of us, the sparring circle is different, and, in a way, diminished.  The purpose of the group is to give us more experience – both more time and greater variety – than is offered by any one of the gyms we come from.  This is, however, still part of our training; therefore, having a trainer present is a good idea.  Having several present might even be better.  My main concern is simply that the trainers remain secondary to the group itself.  That is, that nobody feels restricted by which trainer is there, or that no woman is unable to attend because her trainer can’t come.  The sparring sessions are part of our training, but they are not instruction-centered.  As such, the presence of a trainer is one of precaution and safety, rather than a director.  This is not a class.  So long as we agree that any and all trainers are welcome – just as any and all girls are welcome – and that we as a group are respectful and communicative, regardless of our trainers’ presence.

To repeat my thought above, I contend that every time we set up a meeting, the post will include when, where and we will list what trainers will be there.  Because this is an important issue, please to give your vision of things, and if any trainers want to comment here, please invite them to do so too.

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4 Comments

  1. I know Kru Natalie Fuz at my gym is interested in getting involved with this. We can probably speak to her about her availability as well because that would add a level of supervision that would probably comfort everyone’s trainers.

    On the other hand, I think, for women in general, sparring doesn’t tend to spiral out of control quite as often as I’ve seen it with the guys lol.

    I think how hard people spar depends on what they need. I do tend to go harder when I’m training for a fight, which makes sense. That and I need to work on being more aggressive and active.

    • Please tell Kru Fuz that she is welcome any time and if she can make it this Tuesday it would be great.
      It’s very exciting, the variety of women we’re getting involved here.

  2. Sure thing. She’s still in England after her Sunday fight (#3) against Julie Kitchen from Touch Gloves.

    Speaking of which, a bunch of people are getting together for dinner with Kru Fuz on Friday night and you gals are totally welcome! She is very excited about the idea of the sparring group.

    • I would LOVE that; unfortunately I work weekend nights… booo! Please tell her pass on my respect for her and I’d love to see the fight if it’s posted anywhere. We’d love her to be involved in the group.


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