Monday, September 12, 2005

I hope it's just a phase . . .

. . . that I'm once again afraid of being hit, and more specifically, afraid of being hit by someone way bigger than I am during sparring.

When I started TKD, this was a major hurdle for me, getting used to facing bigger people, OK, let's just say it--facing men--in a fighting situation and not just turning around and walking away. You might remember earlier blog entries about this--about how I'd really prefer to walk away than to spar (January's entry called "Small Class" for example--scroll down on this link to find it)

I thought I'd gotten over that. I can specifically remember a time when I got paired up with lots of the bigger men in the class--Brian, Brian, Jim, Justin--and was conscious that I wasn't afraid to fight them.

So what's happened that the fear has now returned? Maybe I've gotten hit a few times; maybe we aren't practicing sparring as much.

It's logical in a way to have some fear of fighting someone who's taller and larger (and stronger) than yourself. On the other hand it's not logical--this is TKD: light to no contact, and I trust these guys.

Still, even though I'm thinking with my brain "This is Brian. I trust him," or whatever, my gut instinct is saying "get outta here!" So it's hard to spar; I can tell the adreneline is flowing where I need to be calm. Tonight as we practiced 3-step sparring, Brian said to me "Breathe! You're not breathing." I wasn't.

Hey you women martial artists--KickerChick and Myst and anyone else--do you ever experience this instinctual fear? What helps you overcome it?

And you martial arts guys out there, it might be a good mental exercise to imagine sparring with someone 6 inches taller and 75 pounds heavier . . . that's what we small women go through when we face you in sparring!


TKD Rocker said...

Because of my size, I usually get stuck sparring with mostly children and the occaisonal small woman. The only time I've ever sparred a grown man in tkd was when I was about 7 (heehee). We all got a chance to spar our instructor, and when it was my turn I ran at him with a flying sidekick. As you can imagine, this didn't quite work out. He caught me in midair and held me upside down by my ankles! :)
Outside of tkd, I have had some experience with fighting a grown man. Over the summer I did some informal training with a 25 year old former professional wrestler. (long story). Anyway, when we were sparring, yes, I did experience some fear because we went pretty hardcore and didn't use sparring equipment. I got a few injuries (a sprained finger, a cut on my forehead, bruises, etc.) but there was always an underlying fear that he would really hurt me, mostly because I was out of my element (sparring someone who doesn't use tkd, and having to improvise my technique). Wow, that was a really long ramble! -Myst

Anonymous said...

Hey TKD Mom -
Why don't you take a week off to recharge your TKD batteries (so to speak).
I went back and looked at your "Small Class" post -- in that entry, you talked about feeling unfocused. Your more recent post addressed the issue of feeling discouraged. Although you and I both view martial arts as recreational, it still requires discipline and a tremdous amount of mental concentration - more so than an aerobics class, let's say. Taking a couple days off may help you to re-focus and re-energize.

I too have found that I go through phases of fearfulness in sparring. I don't mind sparring the adult male higher belts, and in fact, have had very aggresive (and fun) matches against them. With the teenage boys, however, it's a different story b/c they have speed as well as strength. When they go full-out in sparring, they're not thinking about the fact that I'm 20+ years older, several inches shorter, and that I have a job to go to in the morning and don't want to have a black eye or broken nose . . thank you very much. That's a trust issue -- and occasionally, the instructors will have to remind all students that there's a difference between scoring points and causing harm during sparring.
Like you, I sometime find myself holding my breath during sparring -which saps your energy quickly. And also overthinking my sparring rather than just relaxing and looking for the opening. I recall that in one of your old posts you compared sparring to a game of tag - good analogy. You may be able to help overcome some of your fearfulness by practicing informally (before or after class) with a high belt male you trust, and start slowly exchanging kicks and jabs, and then increasing the tempo of your sparring.
I hope that with a few days off and a little sparring practice you'll find your TKD rhythm again!
Kicker Chick

Mr. Justin Wasson said...

The next time I must lead class I will let you teach everyone through stretching and kicks. It will give you a new perspective on the class and it shouldn't be too hard seeing as how you are a teacher. Also it should provide you with a good story to write for your blog. Tell me what you think of this idea, I will leave it totally up to you

Brian A said...

I know what it is like to deal with large opponets , in HS I wrestled 98,98,102 and 105 ... everyone was bigger than me at EVERY practice. But you learn they fall too, and everyone can be beat , no matter what the size. Gravity make not exceptions.