Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fighting Fatigue

Good piece of advice: Don't Fight Fatigued!!!

October's tournament was a tough one for me this year. 13 guys in my division doing open hand form, and just as many fighting, too. On top of it all, my band had its CD release party the night before, and I ended up getting about 3 hours sleep. Not exactly a good set-up for competing in the top-ranked national tournament of the year!

I achieved Finalist status in open hand form, which means I was in the top 8, and I'm satisfied with that. At this belt level my school's open hand form is not as complex or difficult as some I've seen. The winner was from a Tang Soo Do school, and had an incredible form; very powerful and clean presentation, and most deserving of a top placing.

Going into fighting, I pretty much knew I'd be out after the first round. New rules extended fighting to 2 minutes or first to 7 points. While I lost 4-7 to the fighter who ended up in 2nd place, I did have one bright moment.

Forgetting that I fight best reactively, the first two clashes went to my opponent as I tried to take off from the line. 3rd clash I began moving around and finally popped in some points. We went back and forth trading punches, and while I landed a solid kick to his chest right in front of the center judge, neither corner judge saw it well enough to award me that particular point.

The last blow I delivered came as a complete surprise, and ended up being the most revealing and valuable lesson of the tournament.

I have this habit of turning away from my opponent. Bad idea, I know, but in this particular case I turned while pulling my head back out of range of his fist. 1/3rd of the way through turning, I thought to deliver a back fist with my left hand, which missed my opponent's head. However, my right hand, seemingly of its own accord, delivered a beautiful follow-through that delivered a solid blow to his chin! That moment is awfully fun to watch on video...

What exactly did that moment reveal??? Simple. I need to return to fighting conventional stance vs. southpaw.

See, my right (operative) leg is really good at delivering repeated, jabbing side kicks. However, when it comes to follow-up with my hands, my left fist is really slow. Sure, my right hand in front is fine for back fist work, but there's just not much else to back it up!

I began fighting southpaw when I returned, mostly because I wanted to guard my operative leg from too much sideways motion. Conventional stance put a lot of pressure on the knee, either taking off forward, or if I was retreating. Since that time, however, my knee has toughened up significantly, so it's now time to reconsider my stance to take advantage of my strong side.

I'm right-handed, and my right leg is the stronger one these days. My first sparring class back I forced myself back to a conventional stance, and it was weird...but very effective! At first it felt like I was exposed, but now I realize the true feeling: freedom. Suddenly I felt like my hands truly did have something to contribute to the party, and it's really liberating.

Two Monday's ago we did something unusual that forced fighters to keep constantly on the move; we fought 2-on-1. This forced me as a defender to constantly try to position myself so one opponent was between me and the other opponent, effectively blocking the second attacker.

It was nuts. It was insane. It was a blur of motion. It was exhausting.

It was...A BLAST!!!

Next opportunity for tournament fighting in 2 weeks. Hope to have better results to report afterwards.

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