Adapting One Step Sparring for Realistic Self-Defense

One-Step Sparring, or Il Soo Sik in Korean martial arts, is a common training segment for all martial arts. It incorporates a pre-planned defense against a punch, usually from a formal ready stance.

Many people say it’s outdated and no longer relevant to real-world self defense. If you only train it from a straight punch and always from a formal beginning, I agree.

Again, the use of the formal bow and ready stances, and the letting the partner know when you’re ready is for having structure to obtain muscle memory and learn the mechanics.

In order to transition to making one-steps realistic self defense techniques, after learning them formally, abandon the ready stance (except for testing, of course) and practice the technique free-form, with the partners moving in relation to each other.

  • Begin with the same basic attack, a straight punch. Then apply the defensive response as trained, but without worrying about stances and without warning.
  • Once that has been mastered, begin defending against hook punches or wild punches, with no warning.

Once you’ve done this with at least 100 reps, you’ll see that one-steps are just as valid today as when they were developed, and that the formalized positioning traditional martial arts schools use is nothing more than a teaching method.

On a serious note, if you don’t practice the one-steps the way I just described, the free flowing, real-world self defense application, ask yourself why you are training.

You’re not… You’re doing interpretive dance with a partner.

In Combat Hapkido or Hapkido, you won’t find forms training. What you’ll find is twice as much Il Soo Sik, or one-step, training to learn how to defend yourself against common street attacks.

In Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do, you’ll also find Ee Soo Sik, or two-step Sparring, which involves defending against a kick followed by a punch. Follow the exact same guidelines as for one steps (learn the mechanics formally, then begin free-flowing training and defense).

You’ll find that this method multiplies your ability to learn and UNDERSTAND martial arts and then apply it to real world situations.

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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