So today at the end of the Junior Karate class we had extended sparring time for those students getting ready to partake in the next Victorian Kyokushin Championships. After class, I noticed a few of the kids very tired, and some of them had worn kicks to the head and complained about being hit etc. Albeit they were all fine, they were obviously not happy about these things. Before bowing off, I had a bit of a chat to the kids and I thought I would put those thoughts down here as it it worth remembering the following points. For all students : Juniors and Adults alike !
There are three types of people you get to sparr in the dojo.
The first is the one you can push around. Perhaps you are stronger or maybe you are better technically (not necessarily higher ranked) and they generally don’t give you too much of a challenge. After sparring, you feel quite happy with yourself and perhaps a little bit superior. However, apart from you perhaps exercising control – you don’t really learn much sparring this person. It may be that in this case, it is you teaching them.
The Second one is the person who is just like you. You are both fairly evenly matched in terms of weight, strength and or skill, and sparring is good. You can both apply pressure to each other. Some nights they win, some nights you. You most probably enjoy sparring with this person, and afterwards you feel good. However, depending on the night you may or may not have learnt much from that encounter. Of course, if we are paying attention, there is always something to learn – but that becomes a choice and you probably were enjoying sparring too much to stop and think 🙂
The third person is the one who you don’t like sparring. They always seem to beat you to the punch (excuse the pun) , they block all your efforts to score, and sometimes you get hurt and I don’t meant injured – just a little hurt. However – This is the person who teaches you the most !!!! If you have to work so hard to score or defend, and dig into the bottom of your training barrel….then this is where you learn ! Pressure is the way diamonds are made. Pressure and time under pressure. Don’t shy away from this person. Jump at the chance to sparr them and know that in the end you will only end up better.
In other words – if it feels like Nothing – then it’s probably doing nothing for you !
There is a great quote which sais, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. How true in terms of Martial Arts training.
The other thing we need to be aware of during Kumite is the meaning of hurt. We need to separate our ego and emotions from the physicality of pain. I believe it’s a great life skill for both kids and Adults and definitely anyone wanting to compete full contact- to be able to understand when the body is hurt – or when it is our ego/heart/ mind that is suffering from a blow. Next time you are sparring , take note of if and when you get hit. How does it really feel ? is it pain stopping you from continuing or are you just upset that someone else is gaining control ?
Do you feel like you are losing and so want to quit? or do you brush it off and say Osu – good one to your training partner and continue on ?
In terms of kids- this is a valuable skill for the school yard. If ever placed in a situation where they are being physically bullied – often it is the emotion that loses them the battle. To empower them to know if it is ego or emotion making them feel pain – we give them the skills to stand up and stay stronger and fight back only if necessary. It’s important to teach kids that fighting is not the answer- but strength of mind and resolve – and to not show fear to a bully is very important.
And just to finish- all this reminded me of Sosai Oyama’s 10th Motto :- ” The true essence of the Martial Way can only be realized through experience. Knowing this, learn never to fear it’s demands “.
And so….here endeth another training day. Osu. Kiley