Welcome back, Dear Readers,
Well, it finally happened. Last Friday, I was thrown back into the ring, so to speak–sparring after many years of hiatus.
My kru Kelly Westerlund promised me that I’d be matched with a “trusted person”, so I laughed to see who it was–my kru himself!
My fellow kickboxers told me that, during these early rounds, the kru would be testing my armor. Were my hands up to protect my head and face? Did I leg check kicks? Were my defenses strong?
It’s challenging when you spar after a lot of time off. I find there are two camps of beginners: one is all offense, charging into his opponent with fists flailing and a lot of pummeling going on (very little technique in the beginning stages, so few of the punches are actually effective), and one is all defense–circling his opponent warily and trying his best to stay out of the way. It takes time to retrain the mind to defend oneself and plan attacks simultaneously. This is a skill that takes practice to develop, and I’ve lost it a bit. So I was in the latter camp–I concentrated on being fast and staying out of Kelly’s way, making sure my hands were up at all times. I did manage to get in a couple of kicks and punches, but I know he was taking it pretty easy on me. He even let me knee him in the second round.
Sparring–even in soft, safe mode–is exhilarating. For so long, I’ve been focused on how scary it is, and so have forgotten how it can also be fun! All the training we do…the endless punching combinations, kick drills, and rounds of free format, can get pretty monotonous after a while. Sparring is the chance to “play” with the skills we’re developing and find out how to actually use them in practice. It takes time to get comfortable with the idea of hitting or kicking another person, especially when that person is a good friend. Men seem to find this easier to adjust to than women–it’s very common to hear women repeatedly apologize to each other during sparring when they’re just starting out. The guys never say sorry! (Except in the case of a low blow.) One of the most frustrating things to overcome is the tendency to blink when a fist is coming your way–that takes time to correct, too, but believe me–you don’t want to have your eyes closed when someone is attacking you!
Overall, it was a great reintroduction to sparring. I trust my coach 100%, and for the first time in my life, that trust is actually warranted. I know he has my safety and confidence in mind, and is letting my training progress at a safe and steady rate.
Tonight’s 2.5 hours of training include a Level 2 technique class, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve finally come to the point where I’m excited about the work ahead, instead of dreading it. It’s a good place to be.
How about you, Dear Readers? What was your most recent triumph?