Martial Arts : Too Old To Worry Too Much Anymore

Time was I used to loathe sparring. I did not believe I was capable of winning, I did not have the ability to read my opponent in order to find their weaknesses. This was when I was in my twenties.

Then something happened recently where I realised I had changed with age.

I sparred against Sensei Dave who recently had his 50th birthday. From the way he and Renshi Martyn talk to each other they appear to have a long, shared history. So I look at Dave and think of someone with time, effort and experience on their side. So going up against him was something of a trepidation. And then I had that competition sparring match against him where I held my own. So that boosted my confidence no end. And then there was what happened recently. In our sparring class Renshi directed that at first we were only able to use hands. Then just legs. And then, finally anything and everything.

Hands was a typical scrappy mess. I was hit in the ribs heavily about once. I was hit in the side of the head twice at the very least. Dave was just too good, too competent at close range. Time was I would have grown frustrated with myself and had to fight back the bad thoughts and the urge to curl up in a corner and cry. This time though, I laughed. I actually laughed! I appreciated the good hit and I just kept on going. It was at this point that I realised I had turned a corner. I still kept replaying the match in my head trying to divine what I could have done differently. And yet, I was still happy that I did it and wasn't feeling particularly down as a result. And I filed it away in my brain as something to be mindful of later.

I had grown up. Or just ceased caring with age and just concentrated on having fun. Column A, Column B.

When we switched to just legs I was in my element. And this was where Kung-fu helped immensely. The ability to fight just with legs is often drilled into us in Kung-fu, fighting and defending legs with legs. As good as Dave was, and he was still darned good in this arena, I had the definite advantage. I could block kicks with legs and counter with the same leg I blocked with. Thank you Sifu Pete.

Where do we go now? Well, I have more things I want to try to see how successfully I can use them in a karate sparring match. I also try where I can to go up against bigger guys, because in these instances I have to rely on my ability to get in to range and apply techniques correctly. Using snake style defence and attack in karate sparring confuses the hell out of the karate guys. But I need to introduce Kung-fu deflections into my sparring. For some reason it encourages hard bridging and hard blocks and I can't seem to get out of the habit. I also want to try some circular defences that come from the Mui Fa Kung-fu form to see if they work against someone as close-in competant as Sensei Dave.

Onwards and upwards.