Fear, Anxiety and Sparring


If you are someone who is interested in taking your training to the next level but is a little anxious about starting to spar, this article is for you. Fear and anxiety are common with people who are new to combat sports but thankfully there are a few ways to reframe these thoughts and make your time in the ring more fun and less intimidating. 

Who Cares?

It’s ok to get hit. It’s part of the game and part of what makes it both exciting and challenging.  Don’t waste mental and physical energy trying to never get hit. Even the best fighters in the world get hit when they spar. This will just add more pressure and anxiety to what you already feel. Instead, tell yourself it’s ok to get hit. This helps you learn and get comfortable with your sparring partners. Talk to your sparring partner beforehand and come to an understanding… 10% power, 30%, 70%, it doesn’t matter. Having this conversation will help you both go at a level you are comfortable learning at. If it feels like too much, just ask your partner to bring it down a level.  

Fun Things Are Often Scary to Learn

Remember the first time you rode a bike? Do you remember the first time you crashed your bike? What about learning to swim in the deep end? The point is that most of the things that bring us pleasure as adults were also a bit scary the first time we tried them. Bumps and bruises are a part of learning activities and sparring is no different. You might bang shins with someone, get hit in the liver or take a jab to the nose sometime. However, none of these things should stop you anymore than you would have quit riding your bike after your first crash. Instead, focus on the feelings of accomplishment you know you will have after pushing through and learning a new skill. Just like riding a bike, swimming or any other activity, the more you do it, the less you fear and the more fun it becomes.  


What hurts more, a bump on the shin or the feeling of quitting? How about a punch to the gut or the feeling of failure? At the time, getting hit might hurt more but in the long run, mental pain is far worse. Your body will heal in a matter of days or weeks but the mental pain of failure and quitting can scar you for a lifetime. Once your leg heals, it won’t bother you anymore. However, the memory of not giving it your all, quitting or failing due to fear is something that doesn’t really go away. These become negative feelings and lower your self confidence over time. So, it’s better to have pain in your leg for a few days than the pain of running away haunting you for a lifetime.  

If you are interested in getting started sparring, come talk to one of the coaches and we will be happy to help you get going. If you are new to martial arts and would like to try it out, please contact us today at 503-235-3435 to set up a free private lesson and orientation.