Sensei Graham, who is our totally rockin' sparring coach, is off to Europe for awhile for a change of scenery.
Today, I got what I consider to be a fantastic going away present, which was a good, hard, sparring session. I swear it was at least 20 minutes long, which probably means no more than 10, and I learned a lot about fatigue. That man can just keep going, and seems to have these huge energy reserves that just explode from the cosmos.
which, honestly, is very encouraging, because he's not far from my age, or my weight (120kg), which means I have hope of improvement in the endurance area.
It's quite sobering to know that though you' feel like you're getting pounded on fairly heartily, Sensei is extremely gentle in his delivery. He'll never break you, or cause you more pain than he thinks you can handle. But at the same time, you're acutely aware that any time you think you're making headway against him, it's only because he's letting you try. At any second, he could just choose to end the bout with a single technique.
And you can also tell when he's raising the bar -- here comes 5 good punches to the stomach, urgh, and you just do your best to block and counter.
There were no takedowns, no sweeps, no kicks to the head, because quite simply, any of those would just topple me -- I have no experience defending against them, and Sensei has just way too much experience delivering them.
It's very clear to me, especially today, that he was extremely gentle, simply because the number of blue spots is surprisingly few.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the experience was the psychology. I discovered that I was holding back on my attacks, simply because for my relatively low level of skill, attacking someone like Sensei Graham largely means diving in and thrashing about wildly with my fists and knees. That is, I can't really do anything useful from a distance, and mid-range, I'm just fist-fodder. So I have to get in close and just do the best I can. The thing is, I know it's going to cost me -- the getting in, the getting out, and the little holiday inside the blender -- these will all be painful, and thoughts are going through my head like,
"Ok, well, I can only afford to take this much hand-damage today because I have lots of computer programming to do tonight"
"Gee, I'd better be extra careful about my wrists, because I have Taiko practice tomorrow, so I should avoid doing hooks"
"Man, that knee block hurt; I'd better stop using my knees for defense the rest of the evening."
"HoLy Mother of GOD, is this ever going to END?"
Happily, I didn't have the last thought, but then this was a much more gentle rhumba than the brown belts get.
Also interesting, the after peeling my gloves off, I noticed that knuckles 2 (middle finger), 3 (ring finger), and 4 (pinky) are sort of tatooed with the dye from my gloves. Interesting that they're the only knucles with this effect. That's very bad, I think; because it means I'm delivering my jab at the wrong angle. I shouldn't be hitting knuckles 3 and 4 at all, and 1 should see a lot more use. I was trying a lot of hooks today, maybe that's what happened. And, my right hand has no tattooing at all, even though I did a lot of my sparring right-foot forward to try something different.