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.