Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sparring And Music

I had my first sparring class in two weeks. I was drenched at the end of class. One of my classmates looked at me when my helmet was off and said, "Well, you got a good workout!" When I got home, my wife said, "You should see your hair!" (Time for a haircut.)

I gave one of the younger guys a bloody nose. I didn't realize it at first. Usually I feel like I can barely touch this guy, he's so fast, but tonight I was reaching him. He was fine about it; I feel uncomfortable, and perplexed, because I don't feel like I was hitting very hard. I'm just not sure what happened.

As usual, I was boxing during the free sparring, not kickboxing. When we did drills, I did some kicking; my kicking strength has faded, and will need to be built back up again.

There are a number of ways that sparring is like music--both activities involve tempo, rhythm, timing. But another similarity is one my high school band teacher said about music: There's always somebody better than you.

I do a few things well in sparring. I keep my distance well, which is good for somebody with a long reach. I'm beginning to read my opponents and adjust my actions to take advantage of weaknesses. Tonight I think I did a good job of covering up when my opponents got inside and threw lots of punches--in the old days, I would just panic and squirm.

But there is an infinite number of levels of skill in sparring. As I move from one person to the next in free sparring, I see how much difference there is. I go from easily being able to spar with someone, to being clearly inferior. And of course, each person may be at a different level each night.

One interesting opponent tonight was a black belt named Suzanne; her husband (another black belt) is a tall guy, and she's pretty tall, too, though I'm taller. She moved really well, and wasn't afraid of taking a hit or two to get inside and hit me. What she showed was that to spar well, you need not only technique and conditioning, but also heart, aggressiveness, a will to win.


Blackbeltmama said...

I agree completely with what you said is necessary to spar. When I approach it with a good mental attitude, that I am going to do well and kick some butt, then I do o.k. If I start doubting myself before I even start, I always do lousy. I wrote something about it once, "sparring is mental; blood is cool" or something like that.

I think it's going to be a very long time before I spar again, and I'm going to have to completely change the way I've done it in the past. It's going to be like starting all over again.

BobSpar said...

Blood is cool? Black Belt Mama, you're one tough cookie! I'll have to look up that post!

It is amazing how such a physical activity is so dependent on mental attitude.

Blackbeltmama said...

Found it.

I've since changed my stance on blood a bit. It's only cool when it's not yours and it's not the result of knee surgery. ;-)

Michele said...

I like your sparring and music analogy. I have heard sparring compared to a chess match. Too bad I don't play chess.

Hack Shaft said...

I've only made it to two sparring classes. Sadly, both resulted in injury!

My first one, I re-rolled a sprained ankle that wasn't wrapped or otherwise properly supported.

My second one, a few weeks later, I survived well and enjoyed the hell out of it--until the final point of the final round, when I tore my ACL.

For now, I can take pride and joy in supporting my daughter, who had her first sparring class the night of my surgery. She went very reluctantly, but came home winning two of her first three rounds.

She now has a much more positive attitude about sparring, which is really healthy in light of my injury and the concern that gave her.

BobSpar said...

BBM: Thanks, I found your original post before your response. It's cute how you toughened up your daughter's attitude there, though I'm a little disappointed that "blood is cool" doesn't refer to your taking down some bully in class!

Michele: Yeah, I often say sparring is like a very primal chess game. The--no, one--hard part is being able to think during the process.

Paul: The heck with sparring, I'm impressed you can post anything two days after ACL surgery!