Hitting People with Sticks
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A step forward, then finding many new steps

1/14/10 – Sparring Thursday

Coming up with a plan isn’t all that hard.  Keeping that plan in mind when pressed, however, certainly is.

The night started out with Ryan leading the warm-ups with a great cardio session interspersed with bursts of muscle work.  My shoulders remember these, thank you sir.

Most of the evening was spent in sparring gear.  I spent the first part of the evening working with Eric on effective countering.  We were asked to pick an angle and devise a counter for it, simply blocking the rest and biding our time until the moment arose.

This had an interesting series of challenges to it.  First, in a training situation it feels awfully strange to do nothing other than block, so it’s hard to get into the rhythm at first.  There was a lot of stopping and restarting.  I think this was a good thing in the end, since it forced all of us to think more about what we were doing.

The rest of the evening was directed sparring, and it showed a lot of progress and pitfalls for all of us.  I found the experience both exciting and frustrating.

The exciting bit was feeling more confident in the ring.  I made a concerted effort to be more aggressive, and was told in the post that I’d made strides on that.  My movement was better and the counters were better.

The frustrating part was realizing how far I still have to go.  There were a lot of notes from everyone that I *know* and yet somehow, I still manage to make the same sorts of mistakes when pressed.

Notes of what to work on:

Follow-through with strikes. I have this habit of throwing strikes from my wrist, rather than my shoulder.  Besides the obvious lack of power this gives me, I could easily hurt myself that way and leave myself wide open for hits, especially since I tend to try to compensate for my lack of height by reaching up.

Live hand is too loose and unpurposed. This is a target, and also keeps me from using it for blocks and counters.  Especially don’t leave the live hand behind my body.

Keep the strikes tight. I’m flailing wide far too much.  Strike as though I’m punching, tight and using the rest of the body to torque.

I need to play the short range game. As a shorter person, if I can get inside my partner’s reach, I can do much more damage.  I need to be less wary of closing the gap.

I need to correct my stance. Way, way too much of fencing footwork.  I need to keep more of a 2/3 stance.  This will correct the angle of a lot of my strikes and protect my back side better.

Block close to the body. All of us are blocking too far from the body, as though we’re afraid to let someone into our personal space.  Block close, and not only are you saving energy, but you’re also coiled to counter.

We’ll be working on the last point in class next week.  And I have lots to incorporate before the next sparring session.

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