1.If someone has a background in unarmoured
sparring (goggles only) is sparring with the
WEKAF gear worth the investment of buying the
I think WEKAF gear is well worth the investment. The first reason being that you
can experiment without paying the price physically yourself. Another thing is
that you can get someone else to wear the gear and then you can practice full
force without breaking any bones. And lastly you can practice combinations and
targeting on the uneven surfaces of the body. People often complain that the
gear is too restrictive but after you spend some time in it and break it in,
you get comfortable in it. One question you need to ask is have you ever hit a
head hard enough with a stick to knock your opponent out? If you haven't done
armoured sparring then the answer is usually "no". If it's "yes", I feel sorry
for your training partner. The gear allows you to practice and hone that skill
and skills like them.
" 2. Is fighting in my usual largo fashion (i.e.
stay out, go in to get a few power hits, and
get back out) a viable strategy in a WEKAF
tournament or will I get DQed for trying to
KO my opponent?"
The chances that you'll KO your opponent are very poor in WEKAF gear because the
helmet does pretty good at absorbing the shock. There are many different groups
that participate in WEKAF style sparring and there is a variety of different
thought and theory surrounding how to fight. The arnis instructor you're
working with seems to advocate what I call the "stand and deliver" method where
they don't back up and instead they "hit while being hit". His is not the only
method nor the predominant methodology. Doing that type of work develops
certain skills. Personally, I advocate a "hit and run" style of moving in and
out doing small numbers of HARD hits in bursts. You won't get DQ'd for trying
to KO your opponent, but you will most likely get tired. I would say that your
usual tactics are perfectly legit and it's simply a difference in style with
the arnis guy you're working with thats causing the contention. When you spar
with them you will basically fall back to your own style anyway unless you try
to pick up what he's trying to teach you. That "controlled sparring" that
you're referring to as "weird flowy pretend
sparring as performance art crap" is called palusot or palakaw and is where you
develop jamming and checking skills. You may find that moving in and out and
actually landing the hits is not as easy as it seems. There is the chance that
the teacher out there is still learning and is not that good yet. I wouldn't
judge the whole shabang by him alone.
  "3. Is doing WEKAF style tournament fighting
worth doing at all?"
WEKAF sparring is definitely worth doing. The gear allows you to practice your
stuff on a moving breathing uncooperative opponent without breaking them. I
suggest doing armored and unarmored sparring on different occasions. By doing
both you can benefit more than just by sticking to one. In WEKAF gear you can
do whatever you and your opponent deem is legal however in WEKAF sanctioned
tournaments there is no thrusting, butting, punching, or grappling because of
the large number of serious injuries that occured in past competitions.
Effectively that restriction focuses sparring on the development of striking
skills. One thing to keep in mind of course is that sparring is not fighting,
it's a practice wherein you can develop skills used in fighting. WEKAF gear
allows you to get one step up in intensity without tossing partners in the
trash by injuring them. WEKAF sparring is also not point sparring even though
there are points involved. It's continuous motion and not stop action. A bout
is comprised of three rounds each one minute long with ten to thirty seconds
rest in between. Strikes are not counted but rather the judges see who
dominates and to what degree.
I say buy the gear and give it a go. They may change your mind on things or you
may change theirs. The gear lasts for years and is relatively cheap compared to
that for mainstream sports. If you never try you'll never find out.
  The first time I saw a WEKAF tournament, I had to keep from grinning at
the way the sport has evolved (devolved?).  While there is definite skill
and speed involved, I saw little real world effectiveness.
  Of course, this was a regional event, and I have no idea how
representative it is of the sport worldwide.  But what I saw gave me the
same impression you seem to have.
  To answer your questions (THIS IS MY OPINION; yours may differ):
  1. Could be.  If that's your only chance at sparring, go for it.  Maybe
you can convince this instructor that he's barking up the wrong tree, and
show him the error of his ways.
  2. You'll lose because in one wrap-up, he'll land more blows than you did
the entire round.  Apparently a knockout power shot to the head/neck is
scored the same as an ambiance to the shoulder.  You will, however, be much
more effective in the real world.  Which are you training for?
  3. You can probably guess my opinion on this.  If all you focus on is
training WEKAF style, I think it can be detrimental to your street skills.
But it's probably better than nothing at the moment, and you don't have to
be locked into their mindset to fight with them.
Sparring with anyone is a good method to test your abilities.
As for the value of WEKAF sparring, I've never participated in
WEKAF tournaments.  However, I did find the gear to be most useful
for entry level sparring when I was preparing for my first
Dog Brother Gathering.   Also, I think it's good for sparring
practice when you're training with longer, heavier stick and want to
avoid injuries.  You can do a number of rounds and come back the
next day without the welts and bone bruises.
Sport WEKAF sparring is to real stickfighting as sport Taekwondo sparring is
to real fighting.  Better than no training at all, but it does not really
approximate combat.
Moving in and out, through the ranges, is not easily done.  You'll usually
pay in both directions, in and out.  In real combat if you can close the 
distance you typically don't want to then go back to largo range and start 
all over again.  If you can get in, stay in and finish it.  Of course, if
you get in and find yourself getting bested you'll want to back out to largo
range, if you can.
For sparring what we've found that works well is Taekwondo headgear and
racketball glasses.  Protects your eyes, protects the head from cuts, but
permits the force of the strike to be felt well.  No gloves, elbow pads, knee
pads, etc.  Just a mouthpiece and maybe a cup.
I like the WEKAF gear. Excellent for drills. We do
some really intensive drills with the guys and reduce
our chances of reptetive chronic injury by using the
headgear and the aprons to some dgree. Personally I
like lacrosse pads for collarbone protection and the
kidney protectors for kidneys. Much more flexibility. 
Tournaments, well my experience was really negative. I
sent students to one and attended another personally.
I will not participate again. My experience was to see
a lot of favouratism and politics in action. Lot's of
attitude. Huge parts of attitude.
As far as as the strategy goes, You have to go almost chest to chest with each other
and land deathblows while receiving death blows.
There is a purpose for WEKAF gear, in my opinion - that is, to be able to
learn how to hit, hit rapidly and hit hard - without injuring your partner.
While putting the gear on a sparring partner might give you some
practice in being able to hit with more power than usual, the normal thing that
happens is you learn bad habits. Defense seems to get lost, and hitting your
opponent is already the easy part. The goal is in not getting hit while
delivering your own blows.
WEKAF tournaments don't have any
strategy, beyond the two fighters trying to hit each other as many times as
possible. The normal fight is done toe-to-toe with no defense evident and very
little footwork or technique. It is most often just a lot of ting-ting-ting on
the headgear.

Sparring is a match,   not a fight

WEKAF has begun to push harder on realistic fighting and stressing defense,
not just "ting ting". I would not want to win that way and we have never
trained that way. Unfortunately, if you are not a good fighter, you can
still survive in WEKAF and play the rules but the truly great fighters shine
through. Also, are you concerned with winning at a sport or just becoming a
better fighter? I have never trained to go toe to toe or ting ting. You can
still do WEKAF and be true to your style. You just need to adapt to the
rules. You can train to develop power on a bag or tires all you want but
until you really unload on an opponent you just don't know. As we state,
it's not who we are but something we enjoy doing. My sparring skills always
jump up a notch after a tournament. Just the exposure to other
fighters/styles changes you and pushes you to improve. WEKAF is also a safe
way to develop the fighting spirit in students and get them through the
fear/stress of all hell breaking loose in a real fight. In any venue there
will be those who use it to glorify themselves in their own mind and twist
the rules. But there are also those who see it as an opportunity to further
promote the FMA, make new friends and improve their skills. For me the new
friends and exposure are it's true value.



sparring is not fighting,
it's a practice wherein you can develop skills used in fighting.

Sparring is a match,    not a fight.