Light-contact sparring is the most popular type of sparring. Its critics, and even supporters, often referred to it as playing tag. Light-contact sparring is identical to no-contact sparring except that attacks are focused so they just touch the target. Ideally, this touch will be similar to tapping a person on the shoulder to get his or her attention. The person will be aware of the touch but will not feel any pain or any threat from the touch.
Light-contact sparring is similar to playing baseball, Baseball players tag the runners with the ball; they do not try to hit or harm the runners. However, this does not make baseball injury free, heavy contact does accidentally occur and it may lead to injury, but deaths are extremely rare.
Risk of injury. Although only light-contact is permitted, there is more risk of injury in light-contact sparring than in no-contact sparring. Techniques are focused two or three inches closer to the point on the opponent's body where injury may occur so, the chance of injury is increased.
Level of expertise required. As with no-contact sparring, light-contact sparring techniques are perfectly performed and precisely executed while using maximum power. However, while the means is important in light-contact sparring, the result has priority over the means. The touch is more important than how it was delivered.
Light-contact sparring does not require the level of control required by no-contact sparring since there is a lot of leeway in what constitutes a simple touch and excessive contact. In no-contact sparring, if you do not touch the opponent, you may score and neither the opponent nor the judges may claim you used excessive contact; however, the tolerance range between the scoring distance and touching is narrow. In light-contact sparring, the difference between light-contact and excessive contact is not as clearly defined; it is very subjective. Whether or not a touch is judged as a score or as excessive contact depends on the sound the impact makes, the reaction of the person being hit and of the hitter, the visible results of the hit, the target and technique used, the emotional state of the hitter, and the option of the judges as to what is excessive.
Since light-contact offers feedback to the opponent that he or she has been scored upon and offer feedback to the attacker so he or she knows the attack was successful, scoring in light contact sparring is less subjective than with no-contact sparring, where experienced judging are required to defines the nuances of what constitutes a scoring techniques. In light-contact sparring, since contact is required, it is easier for even inexperienced judges to score the competition.
Usefulness in self-defense. As related to usefulness, light-contact sparring is similar to no-contact sparring. While light-contact sparring, there is a slight increase in the chances of being hit too hard, but the hits are not that hard and are too infrequent to be of any benefit in preparing a fighter for receiving full-contact attacks.
Who may participate. As with no-contact sparring, practically anyone may participate in light-contact sparring. The risk of injury, though slightly increased, is so low as not to be a problem for most people.