“Freestyle Sparring” Book Review

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I can not speak on behalf of all MMA fans, but I have always enjoyed watching K-1 kickboxing fights. The crisp striking and lightning-fast speed of the combatants have made it excellent entertainment and a great source of information on how to punch and kick in a competitive environment. This led me to the world of full-contact Karate and similar events, which are equally fun to watch and put strikes into a new and different perspective, that of a traditional martial art.

Released by Human Kinetics, “Freestyle Sparring” is an instructional that focuses on those traditional striking arts, specifically Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Written by Grandmaster Woo Jin Jung and Jennifer Lawler, this book aims to expand your arsenal in these forms for competition, not just with your techniques but with your entire game. Does this book accomplish it’s goals or are you better off skipping this one? Let’s find out!

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Weighing in at just under 200 pages long, “Freestyle Sparring” is not just a book of random punches and kicks. This instructional puts together a full gameplan to mentally and physical prepare you for competition (the focus of this book is more sport than it is self-defense, but it is pretty applicable to any situation). The book breaks up into chapters on TKD and Karate techniques and tactics, and then jumps deeper into the competitive end of things with sections on timing, fitness, mental preparation, and training routines.

This is not a book for beginners, and is meant for the student who is serious about karate or TKD. It will not teach you how to kick and punch, but it will take what you already know and refine it to perfection. Every strike is examined in great detail, as well as comparing and contrasting how each one works in the two different styles this book focuses on, which is a part of this book I greatly enjoyed. The book also adds a few boxing techniques into the mix, and leaves the door open for the reader to continue exploring other styles of combat to find what works for them and make them a better fighter.

There are sections on footwork, counters, targeting, stances, and more to combine all of these attacks into one complete arsenal. Aside from the physical aspect of this book, the chapters on preparing yourself for combat are invaluable to anyone looking to compete. There are extensive routines for warm-up’s, drills, and general exercise to get you combat ready, and the section on focus and mental preparation is just as important as the extensive chapters on the strikes themselves.

You can order “Freestyle Sparring” on Amazon.com for under $20, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about TKD or Karate, or about to make the leap into the world of competition. This book is perfect for a traditional martial artist who wants to expand their horizons for competition and learn some new techniques from across the combat sports perspective. I really liked how deep this book went in looking at different styles and did not pigeon-hole itself into only one form. It’s open-minded and extremely well put-together, and is an excellent addition to anyones martial arts library.

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