Sparring at Southern Cross Martial Arts - Southern Cross Martial Arts

Sparring at Southern Cross Martial Arts

Sparring in martial arts training at Southern Cross Martial Arts is seen as an inherent training practice necessary to student development. Sparring is also recognised as having an increased risk of injury potential. As such we have developed a comprehensive safe sparring policy for our members. See below for details.


Policy Statement

1. Sparring (kumite) is recognised an integral part of martial arts training and is seen by Southern Cross Martial Arts Association Inc as vital for the students development.

2. It is recognised that sparring has a higher risk of injury than other types of training.

3. Sparring must always be supervised by a qualified instructor.

4. Mandatory protective equipment must be worn during all sparring sessions.

5. Any blood indicates excessive contact and lack of control. The student code of conduct applies and the infection control policy must be implemented immediately.

6. Sparring carries a risk of infection, injury or even death. Participation in sparring, requires acknowledgement and acceptance of this risk (see the waiver policy).



Sparring is where two or more practitioners engage in the motions or semblance of fighting, using any part of the body or a weapon, without the landing of heavy blows that might otherwise cause unnecessary bodily harm, with the intention of safely training the practitioners in timing, distancing and the use of various fighting techniques.


Free-Sparring is sparring where the use of fighting techniques by one or more of the practitioners is not predetermined or advised. The purpose of free-sparring is to test a practitioner’s ability to respond spontaneously and effectively to unforeseen attacks (self defence) or competitive situations.


One-step-sparring is sparring where the motions of fighting are predetermined and known to each participant with the intention to drill the practitioner’s ability to utilise one or more specific fighting techniques. Control-sparring includes any specified attack-defence routines being practised by two or more practitioners to develop the skill of the practitioners in executing the technique.

Dynamic Simulations:

Dynamic simulations is where two or more practitioners (with an attendant ‘coach’, ‘safety officer’ and one participant playing the ‘woofer’) participate in semi-scripted free flowing scenario’s to cause an adrenal stress situation to inoculate the student participant in the effects of a Sympathetic Nervous System activation. The ‘woofer’ is to wear the padded simulation training suit (see OH&S requirements for equipment policy) and be trained in the role.

Free-Sparring Restrictions

Students and members with less than 3 hours training time under direct, qualified instructor supervision, may not participate in free-sparring at all.

Children in the Junior Dragons (4-7 y.o) and Red Dragons (8-12 y.o) may not engage in freesparring with any degree of deliberate head or facial contact. In addition to normal sparring equipment requirements, children in these two programs must wear the ‘dipped foam’ type Tae Kwon Do style head-guard to prevent head injury in the event of a fall.

Sparring Supervision

For the intermediates and adults classes both free-sparring and one-step-sparring, the ratio of Accredited Instructors to practitioners must not exceed 1:12 pairs.

For the Red Dragons program the ratio of Accredited Instructors to practitioners must not exceed 1:5 pairs.

For the Junior Dragons program the ratio of Accredited Instructors to practitioners must not exceed 1:1 pair.

In addition to the provisions for sparring in general, and in accordance with the first aid policy, one certified instructor/assistant instructor with a Senior First Aid certificate must be present to supervise every session in free-sparring.

Practitioners must be closely monitored to check on their physical and mental state. Particular attention to the following policies:

  • hydration policy
  • infection control policy
  • pregnancy policy
  • heat related illness policy

Protective Equipment

All participants in free-sparring must wear safety equipment as specified under “Approved Safety Equipment”.

Approved Safety Equipment

All safety equipment:

  • Must be proprietary based i.e. not home-made
  • Must be maintained in good working order, preferably to manufacturers standards
  • Must be regularly cleaned with proper attention to hygiene (refer Infection Control Policy).

The following safety equipment must be worn by all participants involved in free-sparring:

  • Mouth-guard
  • Sparring or boxing gloves (for seniors the Wraptor MMA mitts by Warrior are preferred)
  • Groin-guard (also recommended for females)
  • Shin-instep guards (elastic stocking type)
  • Tae Kwon Do style dipped foam head-guard for children.

The following safety equipment is not compulsory but is highly recommended:

  • Breast guard

Focus-Mitts are to be worn when a practitioner is acting as a foil for punching drills.

Throwing/Grappling Mats which meet Southern Cross Martial Arts Association Inc’ OH&S requirements must be used for all activities involving the practice of throws, wrestling, submission holds; including where such activities are included in sparring.

Appropriate instruction in the correct and safe use of any equipment supplied must be provided before the equipment is to be used.

Participant Matching

In a competitive setting all free-sparring participants must be matched as close as possible according to age, height, weight, maturity, skill levels and experience.

For training and practice free-sparring, participants of different age, height, weight, maturity, skill levels and experience are desirable to provide the broadest possible range of training experience. Strict controls and supervision are required to maintain safety and prevent excessive contact.

Sparring Rounds

The number and duration of rounds that a practitioner is required to participate in must be adequately controlled and reflect the level of skill and experience of the practitioner.

Rules – Prohibited Targets

Junior Dragons & Red Dragons Programs In the Junior Dragons and Red Dragons programs no facial or head contact is permissible. Students are allowed to punch and kick to permissible targets only.

Permitted strikes are:

  • Punches
  • Kicks

Permitted targets are:

  • Front of the torso
  • Inner thigh
  • Outer thigh

Prohibited targets are:

  • Face
  • Head
  • Back
  • Joints
  • Groin

For Red Dragon program students who are purple/white belt and above may also utilise the following techniques if both people sparring are purple/white belt or above:

  • Foot sweeps
  • Judo type throws
  • Takedowns
  • Ground grappling & submissions

Other Programs

Permitted strikes are:

  • Punches
  • Kicks
  • Knees
  • Open hand strikes to the torso
  • By mutual consent in a controlled competitive arena – elbows

Other permitted techniques (by express instructor instruction only):

  • Foot sweeps
  • Judo type throws
  • Takedowns
  • Ground grappling & submissions

Permitted targets for strikes are:

  • Face
  • Front/side of head
  • Front of the torso
  • Inner thigh
  • Outer thigh

Prohibited targets are:

  • Back
  • Joints
  • Groin

Prohibited techniques:

  • Headbutts
  • Eye gouging 3
  • Spitting
  • Suplex type throws
  • Neck strikes
  • Finger & joint locks (except grappling submissions)

Allowable Contact

Junior Dragons & Red Dragons Programs

  • Any sparring for the Junior Dragons and Red Dragons practitioners is to be light contact only. This is defined as controlled touch contact to the uniform only.
  • No deliberate penetrating strikes are permissible.
  • No deliberate strikes to the head, face or neck are permissible.

Youth & Seniors

Any sparring for the youth and senior students is to be semi-contact. Semi-contact is defined as light to moderate body contact with minimal risk of injury.

Practitioners must immediately provide feedback to each other to prevent unnecessary escalation of contact in training.

Full Contact Competition

Whilst Southern Cross Martial Arts Association Inc does not train students specifically for the competitive arena it is understood that some practitioners wish to test their boundaries. Students are to be counselled on the inherent risks of full contact competition, the assumption of that risk and informed of other training options.

Should the practitioner still wish to compete then they may be trained to industry best practice by suitably qualified personnel.

Full contact sparring is contra-indicated as a safe training practice.

Preferred rules for competition include:

  • Kyokushin Karate
  • WKA Shoot Karate

These rule sets do not allow punches to the head.


Hepatitis B is a serious illness transmitted through blood contact. It can be prevented by vaccination, and you are strongly advised to see your doctor about getting vaccinated.

Current Tetanus immunisations are also highly desirable. See the Infection Control Policy.

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