I had a good sparring session Friday night--it was fun, I learned stuff, and I did well.
I had two opponents who particularly posed challenges. Anthony is maybe an inch taller than me at 6'3.5"; usually I have a reach advantage against opponents. I'd say he's late 30s or early 40s.
Mitch, a brown belt in his 40s, is a southpaw, very fast, technically very good, and has usually posed real difficulty for me in sparring. His punches and kicks seem to be coming from the wrong direction to me since he's mirroring my stance.
With both, I was trying to move my head while I threw my punches, which helps avoid getting dinged at the same time that you punch somebody. I do remember at least a couple of times when an opponent's punch sailed past my ear while my punch landed, which was a thrill.
With tall Anthony, I was trying to get inside at times. I would throw a jab while moving my head to the right, and step inside. Often at that point he would clinch me, but I worked on continuing to throw punches from the inside, or working to get a knee kick. Honestly, one of the things that helped me was that he was very tired, he was on his third hour of working out.
Sensei was showing Mitch and me that, as a righty-lefty pair, our power sides (right for me, left for him) were very open to attack, requiring us to be SURE to move our heads when throwing a power punch; and that we should try to position our front feet outside our opponent's front foot (which can lead to an interesting dance when you're both moving in the same direction).
It occurs to me that this is probably all too technical for people who pursue very different martial arts, but I guess one function of this post is to remind me to do these things in the future.
I was able to keep Mitch, who's a bit shorter than me, at the outside of my range with my punches and kicks; sensei mentioned this to me afterwards and I felt like a million bucks.
One thing I really need to work on is keeping my hands up, which can get tiring when you're wearing 16-ounce gloves. Often I hold my hands about at chin level when I'm sparring, which in our school (where you can punch to the head, though in class we do take it easy) is too low. I don't know why I do that, because in drills I do keep my hands up higher. A bad old habit, I guess, but one that I now know I need to work on.