Nurture or Forge

One of the most common concerns for people when they first take that initial step from “Pad-work Class” in to “Sparring Class” is:

Am I just going to get beaten up?”

Let me first alleviate any concerns and say a massive NO….

Historically, the old-style gyms used to throw newbies in to the ring with a seasoned fighter to test them, and see if they had “heart”. This is the fight or flight mentality I have discussed in other blogs, and if the newbie turned up for a second session he was worth spending time with.
For me this is quite a Neanderthal approach and gives the sport and the gym a bad name and bad reputation.
As a Sports Performance Mind Coach I have learnt that this is a trait that can be taught through the “Nurture and Forge” process.

Lets break these words down in to the specific definition


Verb – Care for and encourage the growth or development of.
Noun – The caring for and encouraging the growth of someone or something: “the nurture of ethics and integrity”.

And now the process:
In order to encourage and nurture the correct reaction there has to “cognitive learning process”; And then repetition to turn this in to an automatic habit (unconscious thought process). This tends to be done via the touch sparring drills. You may have seen samples of this on our facebook group. This means that you can do hours and hours of sparring, without injury or tiredness holding you back.

If you are an avid reader of this blog, you may remember the subjects on “how our bodies learn”, the best way to co-ordinate moves, myocin and the learning process. This is how we apply this to a sparring situation, in a safe controlled manner, and can be done with no or little contact. Both people sparring should be controlled enough with their mindset and technique that sparring can take place with NO protective equipment on shins or hands!!!!!!

So, this therefore means that sparring should be a part of EVERYONES training programme and not just reserved for fighters or people who don’t mind getting the odd bruise…. which nicely brings us to our next section.

Once we have developed this as an automatic instinct, to lift up blocks, catch kicks, defend punches, clinch and grapple at the right time etc, this is when people want to take it to the next level and say they want to compete.


1. Make or shape (a metal object) by heating it in a fire or furnace and beating or hammering it.
2. Move forward gradually or steadily.

Now that the instincts have been developed, you can apply the techniques we do in class and the timing triggered for a calm composed response (And you say that you want to be a fighter), this is the time to start turning up the heat and intensity.
This is where fighters are forged and tested to know that, the correct instincts are still intact…..
- Even when under pressure
- Even when tired
- Even when you want to quit…

This therefore means that the instincts are sooooo ingrained thats its impossible to turn you back, start swinging wildly or look messy, simply because your body is no longer programmed to work that way, when you are given no other option but to fight :)

If you want to spar, and play with the techniques, you are more than welcome to come down to the sparring class and do touch sparring……BUT if you say you want to fight, be prepared to go to places you never thought possible.
Its only when you have to scrape the depths of your soul that you will recognise the true cloth that you are cut from….

I agree, fighting isn’t for everyone, however those that are interested in stepping up, be prepared to meet the real “champion-in-waiting” you know that you are :)

This is how they do it in Thailand:

And here is Jordan Watson and Dzhabar Askerov sparring at the Yokkao Expo in 2011:

And while we are on the subject….heres how to clinch as well with Pakorn training at Jitti Gym in Thailand:

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