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.
How Much Do I Remember?
6 months ago