Monday, August 2, 2010

Sparred again, tonight! HOOAH!!!!

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!


  1. AWESOME. :) Way to go man, sounds like you learned a lot since your last bout! Kicks are always tough for me personally, it's hard for me to get the timing on them right but my strategy is the same as yours; I use my long legs to either say out or get in too close for most to want to use them. 'Course, we use kicks in close quarters too so I still have a lot to learn. :P

    The thing is, there's what you've learned, and then there's your ability to apply what you've learned. So even though you're not a black belt it sounds like you have a very good understanding of combat. Keep it up man! Onward and upward. :)

  2. Well done Frank! Of all the things we do in training I notice the biggest changes and the most progress I've made in my kumite. I think that's where the things you've learned really get a change to show through. Well done for getting a couple of hits in. There's nothing quite like that feeling.

  3. Thanks, Jimmy and Marie! It felt good just to NOT get clobbered the way I did, the first time we sparred. Truth be told, I didn't care so much about hitting him as much as I wanted to keep my defense really tight so I could stay in the pocket without getting my head kicked in. LOL

    The fact that I was able to land a few good shots was just a nice bonus. There's one other orange belt in my class, who also got blitzed last time, and he got it again, this time -- maybe not quite as bad as the first time, but he still ate a lot of punches and kicks that he really didn't need to.

    Another mistake that I made this time, was that I lapsed briefly into a cat stance, which is fine in some circumstances, but it's less mobile than the Seiuchin or Seisan stance. I wasn't really aware that I had done that, but Sensei commented on it, after the match.

    If I'm doing it on purpose and with a purpose in mind, that's one thing, but if I'm slipping into that stance out of habit, then that's something I need to address.

  4. Hi Frank

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. Nutrition is a big part of the 12 week programme we're doing (it's not the BFL one, it's from but I think it's a similar thing). I'm eating 6-7 times a day. Lean meat, wholewheat carbs, veggies, a little fruit. No processed stuff. Protein shakes and a couple of other supps and plenty of water (which I need to remember to drink!!). Funny you should mention about a chiropractor because I have given that some thought. I had an injury to my pelvis as a kid and then further problems when I was pregnant and I have a suspicion my pelvis is misaligned. I need to see if I can find one in my area (and find the money for it!). As for the cheat days - I won't build one of those in until I get to 7-8 weeks in. I know I can manage that much without giving in but once I get to that point I need to start allowing myself a little treat now and then or I lose momentum.

    The things we do in the name of fitness eh?


  5. Hahaha... Right on! At least allow yourself the occasional cheat meal, on your non-workout days. I try to look at it in percentages: If I eat clean 95% of the time, and 5% of the time, I eat crap, then the overall trend is fantastic, and that 5% isn't going to do me any real harm.

    I've quit a couple of things, right off the bat: Sodas, fast food, alcohol, candy, and *sob* beloved ice cream. (I can live without any of that stuff, but sometimes, I really crave ice cream!)

    The nice thing about doing totally away with junk food, is that after not eating sweet stuff for a long time, I find that I don't miss it at all. I'll have the very occasional Coke, but at one point, I was knocking back 2-4 cans of Coke everyday, and that's WAY too much!

    The reason I brought up the pelvis and the chiropractor, is that in Japan, after a woman has a baby, part of the post-partum recovery, is for a chiropractor to come in and realign the pelvis and push it back together after being forced apart by the delivery. This (apparently) keeps women from putting on lots of post-partum baby weight. How true that really is, I don't know. They may be onto something, though.

    Also, try to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night. One of the reasons people gain wait, is because of the hormone, Cortisol. Cortisol levels elevate because of stress. Getting plenty of sleep, particularly the really deep, recuperative Delta-wave sleep, is what allows Cortisol levels to reset.

    In our modern societies, we are all chronically sleep-deprived. You can train the body to do without a lot of things, but sleep and proper hydration are two things that cannot be trained out of the human organism.

    Also, for maximum muscle growth, that 7-8 hours of sleep is absolutely essential. (Rather than all of the supplements with their outlandish claims...) Haha... Without proper sleep and the chance for the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to repair themselves, none of the protein, creatine, or any of the other Voodoo is worth a darn.

    Good luck! :-)

  6. er.... part of the reason people gain "weight." (g'ah... I hate making dumb spelling mistakes!) LOL!

  7. Can you ask your Sensei about his opinion on sparring stance?

    In my humble opinion, Seiuchin stance is good for stability, but it takes away your back leg, the "power" leg. It takes a longer time to pivot too.

    But I DEFINITELY do NOT want to impose, so I would like to hear what you/your Sensei have to say about that, so I can increase my knowledge when I go back to teaching in the fall (my Sensei's gone abroad in the Army for a bit).

  8. Well, I've already asked him about that, Tracy. It's true that the Seiuchin has its limitations, but it's also pretty easy to pop from left Seiuchin into a left Seisan and bring that back foot around. If I were fighting someone of equal or lesser skill, I'd probably work from a Seisan, but I wanted to try the Seiuchin, since the last time we sparred, I started from a Seisan and got my ass handed to me. LOL

    The Seiuchin is a good defensive stance, and that was what I was most focused on, this time.

    I hope your Sensei remains safe and comes home soon. Thank you to him for serving.

  9. Thanks for your well wishes for my Sensei.

    I like your description about moving from Seisan to Seiuchin. It makes sense because we tell beginners that if they kick (while advancing) and end up in a too sideways stance (or even that their back is turned towards the attacker! very bad with our rules) that they should reset themselves into a more reasonable stance so they can actually kick!

    Good times. I love teaching sparring. Especially when the white belts get good enough that you really need to watch what you're doing and not get hit! :)

  10. Truth be told, I didn't get into the Seisan very much. I could have, but stayed mostly in the Seiuchin. If I had gone into the Seisan, I probably would have had better mobility and better lateral movement, eh... but I probably would have gotten punched and kicked in the face and head a lot, too. Hahahaha... It's a trade-off, to be sure. The Seiuchin does allow for a quick transition into a cat stance though, and from there, it's pretty easy to rip off a pretty good kick with the lead foot, but dropping into that stance also telegraphs the fact that you're getting ready to kick.

    I wish someone would teach me sparring! So far, I'm learning it the hard way! LOL!