Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sparring #2: Hey, watch it!!!

Monday night sparring was quite sweet. Only 6 of us in class, so we all had ample opportunity to go a few minutes with each other.

The new knee isn't quite up to full strength when it comes to sideways forces, such as quick take-offs or retreating from an opponent (never in a straight line, right?) As a result, I've found it more comfortable to spar southpaw, with my right (operative) leg and hand forward. After almost 7 months of consideration, I've also adopted a fresh attitude about sparring.

Don't jump out of the gate like some hyperactive young buck; study your opponent, figure out their 'style' of attacks, then anticipate the attacks and go for the targets they leave. Above all, SMILE--it really seems to put an opponent off balance, especially if you compliment them when scoring a hit!

It seems so simple, but I have found it amazingly effective to enter the class with the right attitude. I'm not gonna best the energetic 13-18 year old black belts, but I can at least cover my butt. Sometimes I actually sneak in a good, clean shot, and can stretch out a matchup rather than simply be a punching bag for a 30-second, 5-0 bout.

There were a few dicey moments, however.

Fireball G, a non-blackbelt 13-year old with a killer blitz punch combo, didn't anticipate that I'd follow up a side kick with a second one. He lept for a blitz attempt, and caught my right foot squarely in the ribs as though he'd just run into a fence. I felt horrible, but found out later I'd simply got him squarely in the spot tenderized earlier that evening from sparring with another 13-year old.

Danny Longlegs, a fellow ACL tear recoveree and second degree blackbelt in TKD and Hapkido working through the curriculum at my school, had a tendency to go for spinning kicks without any punches or other combos to follow up. Telegraphing the spins, I was often able to parry his effort by stepping in for a jam, or a side kick to the waist to unbalance him when he was halfway around.

It was using my operative leg as a shield that gave me pause to think.

Danny executed a turning side kick that went off early. Rather than striking my torso, the early side-kick nailed my knee while I had it up for shielding, jolting it uncomfortably sideways. It's fine, no damage done, but his kick did smack me right where the lower screw is installed in the shin. Ouch!

A good bit of icing and things are just fine as far as I can tell, and now I know what NOT to shield against with that leg.


Michele said...

Great news on your sparring success! I could tell from reading your post how much you enjoy to spar.

My fighting style has not changed too much since my injury. I have always been a counter-fighter. My natural sparring stance is left foot foward with my hips facing 45 degrees. This leaves my new ACL in the back position. I noticed that I am tentative throwing a left kick (new ACL as support leg).

As a counter-fighter, I try to provide my opponent an opening in order to draw in their attack. If I want to counter against a strike to the torso, I would hold my hands higher to reduce the opportunity for a strike to the head.

Enjoy your sparring classes.

BobSpar said...

Excellent job, man! That you're able to read your opponents so early in your sparring training is really impressive!

Hack Shaft said...

Bob and Michelle,

Yes, I have found sparring to be an incredible amount of fun, and surprise myself at my ability to spot targets, even if I don't have quite the speed and agility to execute a counter-attack every time.

But my awareness of my opponents is so much more focused than pre-surgery, even if I haven't been in the ring. I can only attribute it to an attitude adjustment!

Blackbeltmama said...

I don't think I'll ever feel confident sparring again. Good for you getting back on the horse so easily.