Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Discouraging Pursuit Of Perfection

I finished the first week of my new martial arts/health regime with a 20-minute jog at a school track, followed by eight wind sprints of roughly 50 meters.

My weekly plan is to attend two group martial arts classes, one private lesson, two weight lifting sessions and one run/sprint. I missed one weight lifting session at the gym at work because I left my packed gym bag at home. Otherwise, I did all the training I planned.

After seeing an instructor named Mike at my new school for two private lessons and one group class, I attended a group class on Saturday with two other instructors. One, named Derrick, is a professional kickboxer.

As before, the group class was very different from my old classes, but an intense workout. At the end, I sparred with Derrick and Justin, the other trainer. They said they understood I did leg kicks and light head contact; I said yes, because that's what I'm used to.

I finished the class feeling a bit discouraged, and a little banged up.

I was hearing from the two instructors many of the same things I had heard before at my other school; my combinations pretty soon become predictable, and therefore easy to anticipate and counter; I back straight up instead of moving to the side; etc.

Why this should be depressing to me, I'm not sure. I certainly couldn't expect that those problems would disappear just from trying out a new school. I'm there to learn and improve. Still, I did feel discouraged.

Once I got hit pretty hard to the head; I was told it was after I had hit my sparring partner pretty hard to the head myself. It's hard for me to know when I'm hitting hard sometimes; I will feel better myself if I don't hit too hard, inviting an escalation from the other side.

I also got a dead leg from a perfectly placed roundhouse kick to my thigh. It still is sore a day later. Perhaps I should try, like most of the other students, only contact below the neck and above the belt (no head contact or kicks to the legs). But that would feel like I'm moving backwards.

One thought an instructor had was that the goggles I wear--to protect my eyes and to see better--interfere with peripheral vision; and it is true that I often don't see what's happening when people get angles on me. In any case, once I put on my headgear, I can't see out of the goggles because they fog up. Maybe I will try sparring without them, the headgear should provide my eyes with some protection.

Derrick did tell me I used my jab very well, making it difficult for him to get inside, and I threw a couple of good round kicks to his leg; I did slip a jab from the other instructor to begin an attack once, which he complimented.

It sounds simple, but I need to keep reminding myself: I'm here to learn, so don't expect to be perfect. It's a difficult lesson for me.


Charleyhorse said...

My eyes are terrible [nearsighted] and I've worn glasses all my life but I did not wear any during sparring. You might arrange an experiment with a partner under controlled conditions and see how well you do.

If that works then the goggles problem is solved -- assuming that I grasp the problem here. I admire your approach to martial arts training.

BobSpar said...

Thanks, Charleyhorse, I believe I will experiment with leaving off the goggles in a controlled setting. Getting some peripheral vision, even if blurry, might be worth losing some focus.