Sparring: It’s NOT What you DO, It’s What you SEE.

One of the benefits of being the old dog in the room is that you have SEEN it all before.
Specifically, thousands of front kicks have come my way; left side, right side, front leg (Sensei John), back leg. Probably more round house kicks, and twice as many punches: high, low, middle, straight punch, reverse punch, right, left, off a block, from the hip.

You throw it.
If the person receiving it has a belt that is all torn up, they have seen it. In fact, they saw it before you knew you were going to throw it. But, How? Malcolm Gladwell talks about it in his book, “Blink”.

At almost 45 I am NOT faster than I was in my 20’s.
But there are things that I am doing that make me SEEM faster, and anyone can do it if they know what to LOOK for.

Go to the mirror.
Elsa SparGet in a front stance and do a BUNCH of Front kicks.
LOOK, not at the kick but, at what comes BEFORE the kick. 
The knee lifts before the foot kicks.
The foot pushes off the floor before the knee lifts.
The hip shifts before the foot leaves the floor.
Did your guard drop a little before the hip moved?

I have a friend who kicks really high, and he always grabs his pant leg before he does a round house kick. (Sorry for outing you.)

Don’t just look.
See what they do and know what you do.

Sparring is all about patterns, learning to recognize the patterns of people in the room, AND learning to disrupt your own predictability.

Don’t just read. Practice.

As a female I am smaller than most of the men who come to train in my dojo.
I make up for it with speed, accuracy, and a solid philosophy of getting out of the way of things that hurt.

Most importantly though, I have history.
Time on the floor, and control of the floor. I never, ever, spar with someone new who is bigger than me before WATCHING them spar with some of my guys.

Knowing What to Expect is MORE than Half of MY Battle.


Posted in Art of Teaching, Stages of Mastery, This is Karate and tagged , , , , , .

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