- Control: I value keeping myself calm and controlled over anything else. The thought of losing control, or causing pain where it is not necessary is a concept that really bothers me. So it is very important to me to stay calm so that I don't get flustered. This also helps me avoid mistakes. In general, I try to mirror the intensity of whomever I am sparring. This makes sure that I don't allow myself to be easily beaten, but I avoid being too intense and possibly hurting someone. Part of this comes from the fact that I learned to spar in class with people of varying ages and skill levels. Because of my smaller size I generally ended up partnered with the 10 or 12 year olds. This meant that in some cases I needed to make sure that I had good control so that I wouldn't hurt someone. Now granted, some of them were extremely skilled and did not require me to hold back at all, I'm just generalizing. So, I keep controlled and calm which makes sparring a lot easier for me.
- Using your opponents force against them: My Sensei from my Issynryu class was also a black belt in Tai Chi, which means that he often emphasized using your opponents momentum against them. The cool thing about this strategy is that you don't need a lot of strength, you simply re-direct their force and use it against them. This is something that I am still working on, but it is something that I always try to incorporate.
- Kicks: Anyone who has sparred me before generally prepares to be nailed with a lot of kicks. It's something that I really rely on. I started doing this after my first belt test. After I finished the test one of the other students mentioned "You have long legs and you're pretty fast, you should use more kicks." After that I tried incorporating them more and it worked very well. I can kick pretty fast and my kicks are a lot stronger than my strikes so it just makes sense for me to use them a lot.
- Block then strike: When I first started to spar I had a very hard time incorporating attacks into my sparring. I would block all day, but I had a really hard time forcing myself to attack. So, the Sensei's who worked with me told me that every time I blocked I had to strike immediately afterwards. This broke me of the hesitation to strike and taught me to flow quickly between defense and offense. I still have a hard time with outright attacks, but now I can generally settle into a pattern of blocking and striking that is fairly successful.
- Circling: My instinct, probably from watching people fight on tv was to circle my opponent. Luckily this turned out to be how I was taught to spar. I generally try to keep up a fairly steady circling motion so that I am never a direct target.
- Lefty fighting: So, I have not completely perfected this yet, but being as I am ambidextrous I figure that I can surprise my opponent and make things difficult for them by fighting left-handed. If I take a left-handed stance it forces my opponent to do the same making them fight with their non-dominant side.
So, that's pretty much it. My fighting style, or at least the closest thing I have to one.