We had a big class, tonight! Thirteen people showed up, and our combined heat managed to raise the temperature of the dojo from 71F to 76F, by the time we were finished with our half hour of calisthenics. We did some medicine ball drills -- A stance drill, and then a speed drill.
After that, we had sparring. I was called out for the first match, and called on to spar against the black belt that beat me so badly, the last time we sparred. I thought, Oh boy... Here we go...
We bowed to Sensei, bowed to each other, touched gloves, and then went for a single round. Just before hajime, I got into a Seiuchin (horse) stance, turned sideways to him. I felt cool, loose, and relaxed. I waited for him to throw the first shot and really focused on my defense. My plan was to stay either all the way out, or get inside and bang to the body, since I'm 5'10" and he's 6'2" or 3" and has greater reach, power, and speed than I do.
My biggest mistakes, the first time we sparred and I got blitzed: I let my hands fall to chest level, I didn't move laterally very much, and I started out in a Seisan stance, more or less squared up to him. Bad mistakes, all of them...
This time, I was sideways to him, tried to circle to my right and away from his power, and I kept my guard up. He threw a lot of techniques to the head, just as in our first match, but because my guard was up, he only got one punch that came through and popped me in the nose. What felt best, was when he tried a spinning back-fist and he hit only my gloves. The only other real shot he managed to get in, was at the very end, where I got my guard too high, and he ripped off a kick to my mid-section that had me briefly feeling a little green around the gills. The match was over, by then.
I was able to time him a couple of times, and I was able to get inside and hit him a few times to the mid-section; not hard enough to hurt him at all, but enough to let him know that I was right there in his wheelhouse and popping him pretty good.
All in all, I'm very pleased with how the match went. Of course, I'm still not at black belt level by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like I was a lot better, this time out. Next time, I'll be even better.
Things I need to work on: I need to move laterally more, need to be less flat-footed and more mobile so I can pop in, strike, and then get out. Because he's a taller opponent and likes to throw punches and kicks to the head and face, I need to work on getting lower, slipping those punches and kicks, and then banging back before he has time to get set again.
Good stuff... I learn so much, every time we spar, and I wish we'd do more of it. Now that my techniques are improving through working the kata and stances, sparring is a lot more fun!