Sunday, October 25, 2009

11 Months

I have a curse, and it occurs every 11 months.

From my first ACL tear in December, 2007, to the next in November, 2008 was 11 months.
From the second ACL tear to a broken rib this month, October, 2009, was 11 months.
I plan to take September of 2010 off from any Karate-related activity, just to be safe.

It's been a while since I blogged, so let me fill you in.

August was busy with a lot of camping, and a severe shortage of opportunities for me to go to core classes. I maintained my conditioning, but didn't really have the new open hand form memorized. It seemed life was pulling me every which way but where I wanted to go!

September was filled with weeks of getting back to the swing of things, most notably the annual 3 school cross-training sparring classes. Members from 3 of the local schools gather together every 2 weeks leading up to the Diamond Nationals, the largest martial arts tournament of its kind, to spend time sparring with other fighters we don't see on a regular basis. I learned tons and was looking forward to sparring in tournaments again this year.

October came, and so did the Diamonds. It's a 2-day event, and I signed up for sparring and weapons on both days. The first day, Friday, is principally an intramural event, the second day is an open event to competitors nationwide.

I cranked out a 1st place weapons form with my Bo, besting 5 other competitors in the 35+ men's group. Then it was on to sparring.

There were 5 of us in the advanced belts, significant in that our rank allowed us to score points with head contact whereas the lower under-black belts have to avoid it. 2 pairs of us were from the same school, so they mixed up our order to avoid fighters too familiar with each other.

Since it's single-elimination and not round-robin, I pulled a bye with 2 other guys. My main training partner John waltzed through the first match, then the other two guys with a bye had their fight. That put my first match for the weekend with John, which had me somewhat concerned as he's a fantastic fighter and one I was hoping not to face right out of the gate!

The first clash had me executing a double side kick. Due to weird timing and physics, my supporting leg just happened to be in the air as John advanced on me, resulting in getting knocked on my butt. Hard. On a hotel conference room floor, devoid of the padding we have available at the school.

I danced a bit to shake it off, and we proceeded with the match. John and I were both going at it hard, and I returned the favor knocking him on his butt a short while later with a nicely executed front kick.

The next clash had me holding him at bay, but he blitzed me with a perfectly timed back punch just as I was chambering for a side kick. Unfortunately I took it full force on my left side, just barely above the protection of my rib guard. I was fine for about a second, then the pain hit me like a 2 X 4! I took some time to recover and finished the match, but I knew something was up with my ribs.

The following morning, Urgent Care confirmed a broken 6th rib on my left side.

I wasn't able to compete Saturday, including my Bo form, so I spent time video taping everyone I could, and made John buy me lots of drinks at the finale that night!

While I'm waiting to heal, I still go to watch the Monday fights and chat up folks, all the time watching...watching...watching...

John and I have talked a lot about what it was that allowed him to slip inside my kicking range, and with input from a few other fighters I've decided to return to a right-side forward fighting stance.

My right side is my bread and butter. My right leg is much more facile, and my right hand faster than my left, and in point sparring speed counts more than power--so it makes sense to get the faster side back in front. That was confirmed by a lot of the video I recorded.

Plus, I have a slight vision impairment in my left eye that results in less peripheral vision, so I can't see someone's big back punch or round kick coming around!

It's been 2 weeks now, and 2-4 more to go, mostly depending on how I feel. I'll gauge my readiness to return based on whether I can do sit-ups or push-ups at all, let alone getting up to any significant quantity of either.

For those of you who spar, how do you determine the best side to put forward?