muay thai sparring
Friday was the first class where I really sparred. It was the first class where I was punched and kicked, repeatedly, in the head. It was about what I expected. It didn’t hurt, and I had a fun time doing it, though there are some lasting effects.
I did feel a little out of it for a while, and that was a combination of many things. First off, I got hit pretty hard a few times, and Juan (one of the coaches) gladly landed a well placed kick to my head. I also didn’t have my abdominals tightened up enough at the last second of a round with another guy and got nailed pretty good there. Also, sparring seems to be 2 to 3 times more difficult, cardio wise, than the normal drills we practice. Did I mention this is all we did during class? Aside from the warm ups, it was bout 40 minutes non-stop of sparring. We’d switched partners every round.
Both coaches, Stephanie and Juan, have been asking me over the past few weeks if I have all my sparring gear. I took this as a hint, so while I wait for my head guard to come in I was able to borrow someone else’s Friday. Juan has been pretty excited about my progress, and started asking Stephanie if I could begin. So, as Juan partnered up with me and let me have it, I felt a strange sense of pride and accomplishment. It was nice that he didn’t seem to baby me.
The other part of sparring that still feels odd, is punching someone in the face. I wouldn’t say we are all “friends” there, but we are very friendly. That would be like punching a friend (specifically, in the face), or a loved one. I had a really hard time doing it.
When I think about it, the only other times I’ve truly hit someone was back in grade school. Keep in mind, when I say “hit”, I really mean mindlessly flailing my arms. At those few very times, there was a mixture of fear and anger (mostly fear), and that really takes you out of the moment.
Here, with your own classmates, there is no anger or even a little rivalry going on. We all work together, and I like every person there, even if during normal drills they are aggressive or spastic. I like to use that as an opportunity to learn; adapt to someones else level and push myself.
What I’m getting at is it was very difficult for me to really hit someone in the face. I wasn’t afraid, and I wasn’t angry, so I kept thinking in the back of my mind “But I don’t want to hurt anyone…”. After getting knocked around senselessly a few times, I eventually adjusted, and figured we are both in this for the same thing.
After a while, it became a little easier to become less reactionary and try and plan things. What I really started to get good at was either completely blocking a punch to the face, or taking it in a less hurtful way :)
Still, it is Sunday, and my left ear is still tender, and my nose still has the strange smell and feeling that it got punched, my legs are sore and my knees are bruised from kneeing another guys knee. Oh, and my jaw is KILLING me. I was clenching down on the mouth piece a lot, and it is sore from that.
We have next week off, so by the time we start up I should have all of my gear. Looking forward to it.