Monday, October 02, 2006

Learning about Sparring

A new tactic
“Hey, if I get in close to you, you can’t score on me!”

Right before class, Brian and I were goofing around, sparring, and I was moving in close, leaving only about 8 inches between him and me. I discovered that this works because it thwarts his favorite move: the axe kick. He needs space for that one to work.

How did I figure this out? Brian does this thing where he comes up to me and does an inside-outside kick right over my head. Quite amusing, really. It made me realize, though, that if I’m close enough to him, those lethal axe kicks he throws at me when we spar will go right over my head, not on top of it!

Of course, then I have to watch out for the fists . . .

Speaking of sparring
TKDRocker wanted to know my impression of sparring at the tournament this weekend. The school that put on the tournament practices Olympic-style sparring, different from our school where we practice point sparring.

Actually, I didn't stay for the sparring. But I did hear reports at the party Saturday night.

Seems like there were two things our people noticed. One was that the Olympic sparrers used their hands differently than we do. We keep our hands up, boxing-style, to use in punching and also to protect our faces from head-kicks. In fact, if we don't keep our hands up, Master Hughes will come along and give us a friendly pat in the face--reminder that your opponent can get your face, too.

The people that watched the sparring said the Olympic sparrers kept their hands down, and didn't punch at all. Ms. Pryor reminded us that it would be hard to land a "trembling blow" with your fists, so they mostly used kicks.

(In point sparring, you just need to touch your opponent with a foot or fist to score. In Olympic sparring, you need to deliver a trembling blow, one where you can see your opponent reel back from the force of your kick or punch.)

Pam and Denise also pointed out that the Olympic sparrers also used mostly roundhouse kicks. When they warmed up, they did lots of different kicks, but when sparring, "it was just roundhouse, roundhouse, roundhouse." And mostly to the midsection.

I suppose that might also have to do with the "trembling blow" rule?? But roundhouse, roundhouse, roundhouse would get dull . . .

At our school, Master Hughes sometimes will say that we have to spar but can't use roundhouse kicks--because it's the kick everyone falls back on when they're tired or not thinking. We're trained to do combinations of a wide variety of kicks in sparring: axe, reverse, hooking, side, crescent, etc., etc.

Maybe, though, this had more to do with the ability of the sparrers than the approach of Olympic sparring. I'm not sure, and I didn't see it. But it does make me (again) glad that I'm learning point sparring. I like to be able to do all sorts of different kicks, and think more about speed and finesse than raw power.

And besides, I'm not sure I want to suffer "trembling blows" !!

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