I have a number of technique books on different martial arts outside my primary field of study. Hapkido, Fencing, Tae Kwon Do, Arnis, others. A book is no replacement for a qualified instructor, but books and videos can be useful supplemental materials.
One of my technique books on Western Boxing has a list of common problems faced by people new to sparring that I think is worth reproducing here for two reasons.
First, these are good tips that even experienced students would do well to review, including me. You don't stop learning, and you should never stop reviewing material you think you already understand.
Second, I think it's interesting to look at the similarities between our Way and their Way. Döbringer began his presentation of "The Art of Combat of Master Liechtenauer" by saying, "there is only one art of the sword."
Fighting is fighting. Violence is universal to the human condition. And there are certain universal truths which apply to it's study. As Musashi put it, "Even though their Ways are not ours, if you know the way broadly, not one of them will be misunderstood."
On to the list.
Start-Up Sparring: Common Problems
Squaring Off to an opponent (planting your feet directly in front of an opponent so that you face him with your chest). Never compromise your basic defensive posture.
Signaling intentions with shoulders, head or flying elbow before your punch is thrown. Deliver your punches crisply and cleanly. Straight punches fire directly from chin to target.
Predictability with movements or offensive and defensive style. A boxer must mix up his approach so that his opponent won't see patterns.
Reaching and pawing. These are largely useless actions that will expose you to dangerous counters.
Hesitation. Finish your punches. They may land or disrupt the counter. Half a punch is worthless.
Flinching. Learn to keep your eyes on your opponent - even under fire!
Fatigue. It takes time and training to build stamina.
Slow and sloppy technique. It also takes time and training to groove your offensive and defensive actions.
Nervous prancing and bouncing. Happy feet happen naturally and must be curbed to conserve energy.
Inability to relax between actions. The intensity of sparring makes it hard to relax out there, but relax you must, in order to conserve energy and execute technique properly.
Anger. Has no place in sparring.
Charging. Usually the result of frustration. With an experienced opponent you'll be cut down in no time.
Most of this list can be reduced to two basic concepts. Clean technique. Mental clarity.
Don't get frustrated. Don't get angry. Don't hesitate. Don't reach. Don't telegraph. Don't make unnecessary movements.
There is only one art of the sword. Understand that, to understand this.