Sparring is an excellent way to improve reaction speed, timing, distance, and fluidity, while teaching students to respond to continuous and unchoreographed attacks. Moh Pai sparring differs from that typically practiced in many martial arts schools. To make the training as realistic and applicable to self-defense as possible, all manners of attack and all targets (except for eyes and throat) are permissible. Strikes which, if done full out, would be ineffective at stopping a real opponent for any reason (e.g. if they are jammed, over-extended, delivered at a bad angle, miss their target, etc.) are not acknowledged. A sparring engagement continues, whether standing up or on the ground, until one of the combatants is fully submitted, or until a decisive strike or series of strikes is scored.
Students train at the level at which they are comfortable, with speed, power, and intensity increasing with their experience and control. The amount of contact for new students starts off at a minimum, while more senior practitioners, being better conditioned and having greater control, are able to safely increase it, if they wish, to a higher degree (varying, of course, with the sensitivity of each target). Although forearm and shin pads are often used, body and head gear is not worn because it restricts movement, fails to cover many vulnerable areas, and often tends to develop false confidence.
Sparring is not about competing and dominating one’s opponents, but about learning together and improving one’s skill in a fun, safe, and supportive atmosphere. Scoring points is of little consequence, while personal experimentation within the art is highly encouraged. Sparring helps students find out what works best for them, teaching them to capitalize on their own natural advantages and to adapt to opponents of varying sizes and skill levels.