I went to sparring class Wednesday night. Now, while I was taking a three month break from my school, I did spar at another school, but in a very different style, so in some ways it was like going back to sparring after a three month layoff.
Indeed, we were doing things in sparring I hadn't done before--practicing ducking under punches and going for a takedown, MMA style.
Most of the class was drills. But I kept wondering how I would feel, and how my classmates would react, when it came time at the end of class for free sparring and (per my discussion with my sensei) I wouldn't start sparring with the other black belts but go into the beginner area and work on drills. Would my pride be able to stand it?
My sensei found an out for me that saved face. He asked me to spar with three women in my class, a red belt and two blues (one at a time of course). They needed a fourth person to even out the numbers, and we just rotated partners. I encouraged them to throw combinations and I worked primarily on defense. I would jab lightly to the head if they dropped their hands.
Even just doing that light sparring, I realized afterwards that I do need to move more. And I realized that too much of my drilling with pads is stationary. Of course, if I drill in one place, I will spar without moving also. So I need to build that movement into my pad practice.
When I was leaving, however, I heard a very strong 30-something brown belt say to one of the 20-something black belts--with a bit of pride in his voice--"Hey, I still have a headache from sparring with you last night." That was discouraging--I'm looking for challenging sparring and a good workout, but not headaches from sparring an unbeatably fast and strong 24-year-old black belt.
I didn't have to see how that would fare on Wednesday night. One of these days I will.