How late in life can you leave this?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by KarateMum, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    Thank you all.

    Firstly apologies for the 'tripe-o's' above, that was the tablet late last night before going to sleep. I'm better on my beloved portable. However, I think you all understood what I meant to type :)

    matveimediaarts, I don't like the sparring, but, like most things that I do, I do tend to put my heart and soul into trying to do it correctly. As such maybe I do come over as somewhat 'focussed'. I don't think it helps that, lets say I am not a petite lady, there is 5'9" of me, and am not lightly built. If I spar with the very young kids I think I get on fine, the problem seems to be when my opponent are the chaps my age.

    Mitch, perhaps I don't understand how to play the game and what I am trying to achieve. I don't know how to score a point, what is legitimate as a target area and what is not, i.e. should I be just be using the moves and blocks that we do in basics and kata. Maybe I will ask next time. As it is on most occasions with the seniors I get light punches landed on me, have my foot caught to prove they could tip me over (and sometimes do go over), get forced back with no idea of a plausible response, they are faster and more agile than me, and I guess it is frustrating. Don't get me wrong, they are 'nice' about it and I don't get hurt, there are smiles and bows and glove taps before and after the 'spar', but they then tell me I am being too aggressive, and I think "me? There isn't an aggressive bone in me". I don't agree with them, BUT I can't deny that there is something going on when this is about the 4th time its been mentioned and by different people.

    I am desperate that I don't want to be doing something wrong, I don't want people to not want to partner with me, but I don't seem to be projecting the correct approach to the sparring and I don't know why, and how to correct this without becoming so passive that I lose all ability to stand a chance of scoring points. I have tried standing back, but I just get strikes on me even more often. At the moment it just seems a lose, lose situation. If I am more passive and defensive all I get is hit, if I try to do my part and I am told to lose the aggression or I'll hurt someone (and then it is pointed out that I have connected too hard in the past :-( which makes me feel even worse) and is something I have NEVER intentionally done. I am def. Frustrated and a little upset that I seem to be getting it so wrong. Sorry to vent, but I am at the stage when I cringe whenever we are told to put the gloves on.
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
  2. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I think you should just ask your sparring partners who have told you this. Tell them you honestly don't know what you are doing that is coming off as aggressive and ask them to let you know so you know what to work on.

    We can guess, but without video it is only a guess. Because we can't see what you are doing.

    Are you hitting full power in lighter power matches maybe? Maybe you don't realize how much power you have and therefore don't realize how hard you are hitting your sparring partner.

    I used to literally think I was the worst sparrer in all nine locations at my school. But somehow, along the way, I got better. But I still sparred like I was the underdog against people my size or larger. A classmate kindly pointed out to me that I was going too hard on someone who had just joined sparring class and that I was going to discourage her from going to class. I had no idea! The idea of me being the more skilled person just seemed so weird to me! I hadn't accepted that I had improved until my classmate kindly pointed this out. Once I realized what I had done, of course I reeled it in.:eek:
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
  3. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    aaradia, thank you for the thoughts. Actually I have been heard to comment on more than one occasion that I don't think I will ever have the power of the men I spar against. When I say this I am told that technique will eventually increase the power of my punches - almost as though they acknowledge that I don't actually have power in my punches yet, perhaps this is a good thing at the moment?.

    Yet chief instructor tells me I have 'presence' and am too aggressive. He says 'presence' isn't a bad thing, but I should remember that we aren't out to 'demolish each other' as though I don't realise this. But I do realise that, every time we spar I realise that. It's as though they can't see that I am not trying, very hard, not to hurt people with my punches, whilst trying my best to spar as they want me to. When I do 'accidentally connect' to me it never feels as though I have connected with anywhere near the strength that people hit me with on a regular basis, yet they never get pulled up for doing so to me. Then when I am 'having things explained to me' it seems that they don't 'get' my perspective and that I am wrong, when all I am trying process is what seems to be whole set of what appear to be mixed messages and believe it or not trying to not hurt anyone whilst doing something that I'm not enjoying, and trying not to get hit myself which I seem to happen every time I try to 'reel in' what I think they are getting at. Oh, and all this is just light, 'fun' training sparring let alone anything more serious.

    Sorry all, I'm just frustrated!
  4. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    Hi KarateMum, I suspect it could be that you're actually doing the right thing, but you're doing it at a stage in your training where it's scary to the other students of your grade. Particularly if you're older than the people you're pairing up with. You should absolutely be approaching sparring with a strong and aggressive attitude BUT it might be that you're intimidating the youngsters enough that the instructor worries that they're not training at their best. So he might be asking you to tone it down for the good of your partners, not necessarily because you're doing anything wrong.

    Some of my Facebook friends will know this story from a couple of weeks ago, but I recently started at a new karate club that I'd never trained at before. I'm a bit out of practice as I've had a nagging hamstring injury for months but I thought I'd give it a go. Everything was going nicely and I was feeling like maybe I hadn't got as rusty as I thought, up until they paired us up for some limited freestyle kumite. I got paired up with a young girl of about 19 because she was the only other black belt there. The first punch I made contact with caused her to burst into tears and she couldn't continue the exercise. On one hand, it was what I would usually consider a light tap and nothing to worry about, but on the other hand because I was a bit rusty, was trying not to look like an out of shape old man and because I'm not used to training with smaller, lighter people, I failed to moderate my attack sufficiently to take into account my partner. I didn't do anything wrong, per se, but in my actions I had made it difficult for my partner to continue at her best, so I was not doing my duty to be a good training partner. Maybe it's a similar situation?
  5. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    Hi Moosey

    Thanks for your story - I bet you felt a bit bad at the time. I certainly wouldn't want to cause that sort of reaction.

    Maybe you have it nearly right, I could be approaching the sparring with the correct sort of competitive attitude, but maybe at my stage of training I'm scary to everyone I spar with!!! I don't want to be thought of as scary :-(
  6. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    So I'm still sticking with it. I've just missed 5 training sessions on the trot due to holiday, but apart from that have been religiously training twice a week. I have been told that I will make an attempt at a grading for my yellow belt later this month and that I made the best attempt so far at Pinan nidan this week. So I am quite pleased with that, though it remains to be seen if I can get that grading.

    The sparring seems less fraught, but I still find the whole thing awkward. These days I try to deliberately not contact or even aim in an area where I might do so, which is fine until an instructor spots the deliberate avoidance and tries to get me aiming back on target. Kata is def. Going to be my thing, I just wish I had the minds of the younger people in the dojo to memorize them!!
  7. mjl

    mjl ITF Taekwon-Do (1st Dan)

    Any updates? how's training/grading?
  8. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    Hi MJL thanks for asking :-D

    Yes, I got the yellow belt a few weeks ago. Quite pleased, but I wish they wouldn't award sub-grades which indicate how many months minimum you have to train to take the take the next level. I think there should either be a pass standard or not - 'yes', you pass or 'no' you don't. The perfectionist in me doesn't like only passing with a level 3 pass, I would have sooner not been entered for the exam unless I was capable of passing with a level 1. A

    lso, and 'yes' I know it is a personal journey, I was slightly put out to find that another newcomer was passed through a grade, where I've put in a real lot of hard work for longer to get to the same standard - it just took the shine off my achievement a bit. Wrong personal attitude I know, and I'm not proud of myself for feeling like it, but that's just me I'm afraid.

    Anyhow, I am still working hard to try and polish my Pinan shodan and also master my stalker blocks - I can now see where I am going wrong with them. So still working hard and still enjoying it :-D
  9. mjl

    mjl ITF Taekwon-Do (1st Dan)

    Ah congrats on a successful grading!

    I would say to not worry about the grading score, earned your belt(!), as long as they've helped you understand where to focus your efforts for the next grading. If they haven't then yeah it's a bit meaningless (although in that case ask your instructor for advice).

    On your other comment, it's natural to compare yourself to others, but again forget about them. Overall they might succeed more quickly, more slowly, or quit altogether. It's a long journey :)
  10. kicktshirts

    kicktshirts New Member

    I agree with mjl. Also, people who find it easy often don't get so much out of it.
  11. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    So when you are learning to spar, something that I I think I will long have problems with, does the possible advantage in what you might learn fighting a higher grade overweigh the demoralising aspect of knowing you will always lose, and as the years progress will never close the gap either. Our club is most def. High grade heavy, there are three or four of a similar grade to myself, but most other club members are easily 4 or 5 or more grades higher. Thus it is very common to spar against someone you will never beat and they are told not to lower their 'game' ,when they fight lower grades. Is it a good thing to fight against people you will likely never score against. The only thing I seem to be doing is getting braver at taking hits! Is this really the only gain?
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
  12. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    For many years, I was convinced I was the absolute worst sparrer in all 9 locations of my schools. But I stuck with it. I will never be close to the best sparrer, but I have made progress I never would have imagined. I can be in close matches with some of the people half my age, who are about the same rank.

    Go in with the attitude of comparing yourself to yourself - not others. I look back and say "Am I better than I was a year ago? 5 years ago? when I started 11 years ago? As long as that answer is yes, which it is, then I am doing well.

    However, there are some people who start out better than me, faster than me who are young and beginners. I just accept it. I have had to work for every ounce of skill. It just comes naturally to some people. And the black Sashes? Well, I don't think I will ever catch up to them, but that is ok.

    Ask those advanced members who beat you HOW they beat you and what they saw that you need to work on. You will learn so much from their perspectives!

    Then, If you ever do go against people of lower grades, you will find over time that you actually have learned something.

    This is what happened to me in my Tai Chi Push hands training. The first year or so, I was the only regular beginner in a class of much more advanced students. I just dropped all ego and absorbed everything I could learn. ("how did you get me there? And there?) Because it was very obvious I was going to lose all the time against them. So, with no chance to win, I just focused on learning instead of winning. When other new students did come in, I found out that hey- I had gotten better and learned a lot! In retrospect, that first year was a GREAT foundation to build my push hands skills. I wouldn't trade it for an easier on the ego time with other beginners at all. My Sifu says "invest in loss."

    But the most important thing is to keep going to sparring as regularly as you can and with the right attitude.

    Also, pick one or two things tops to work on and focus on that until it improves -then pick another thing. Don't get overwhelmed by trying to focus on too many things at once. For me right now, it is angles. I do pretty good in coming in straight - especially in stick fighting and push hands, but my angles aren't so good. So, pick something. Maybe ask your instructor and/ or those advanced students what that one thing should be. And just really focus on improving that aspect. This was told to me by an instructor years ago and it has served me very well in sparring, stick fighting and push hands.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  13. Nachi

    Nachi Valued Member Supporter

    I'm not a particularly good sparer, but if you can drop the ego, I think sparring with higher grades is a very good chance to improve! Every single time I can spar and lose with some of the senseis from our or a different dojo, it is a great experience, benefitting me much more than sparring and perhaps winning against beginners, although I know from the start I'll get beaten even with them using only one hand and that it will hurt...
    On the other hand I'm happy that they don't look down on me and go all too easy. Being pushed is a good thing. My sensei is the one who always beats me the hardest. And since not getting hit is a great motivation then, I try my best to think of a way to avoid or block the strikes and attack and to think about what I'm doing. I almost never get that kind of exercise with the beginners...

    Last year I went to a sparring meeting of hours and another dojo. There were 8 people including me and 5 of them had black belt (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 2x 4th dan) - we don't have that many black belts in our dojo alone, so this was a rare opportunity. Then there were two guys with a bit more experience than me. Yes, I precisely traveled for about 3 hours just to get beaten badly :D There were 35 rounds, 5 times with everyone. The only one I could win against was actually the only other girl there, with the 1st dan. It was a great experience, though, and I would do it again, anytime! We don't have too many higher grades in our dojo, and looking from that perspective, although it is humbling and not easy, you should grab the opportunity you have and learn whatever you can! :) And get tougher from all the hits ^^

    Yep, it's not as much about comparing yourself to others, but comparing yourself to how you were yesterday. And I believe more capable sparring partners can only make you grow faster :)
  14. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    I started Judo at 41 too! It's an easy way to get a dose of humility. Two years later and I still spend a lot of time (ok, most of the time) in randori getting back up. I do punch above my belt in newaza though. I claim to be the world's worst Judoka, but I'm better than all those who never took it up. :)
  15. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    When you're sparring, it's an opportunity to learn. What I advise is have a bunch of stuff you want to practice. For example, in Judo I might spend the session working on my leg sweeps. In longsword I might focus on footwork or a certain combo. When I start sparring, I already have what I want to work on in mind. And then I try it out. It doesn't matter if I win, because that's not the point. The point is every time I spar, I get closer to pulling off those techniques I'm working on. Then in tournament when I'm trying to win, my techniques are pressure tested and as polished as they can be!
  16. kicktshirts

    kicktshirts New Member

    If you're not sure what you are achieving in sparring, then you need to talk to your instructor straight away. They should be easing you into sparring in a way that you understand and in a way that gives you some skills to use, develop and recognise your partner using, so that you can progress regardless of level. Being 'passive' will make everything worse quite quickly. Adopting a 'relaxed' attitude physically is likely to help, though.
  17. mjl

    mjl ITF Taekwon-Do (1st Dan)

    Hey. My advice and take it with a grain of salt but to assume you will always lose sounds a bit defeatist and is actually untrue.

    When I started just 22 months ago, like you our club was very high-grade heavy. My experience of initial points sparring was the higher grades would generally move about, let me score a point or two before cleaning up to win, as you'd expect. The contact level was very light.

    Nearly 2 years on, the balance has changed. I've trained hard at every session, and although those higher grades can still use their considerably greater experience to normally win (as you'd expect!), there's a difference in how they approach sparring with me. For a start, my punches and kicks are 2 years improved, so I'm quite capable of scoring legit contact, and they know that. So for them to win, they must work harder (and the contact levels are increased). I'm no expert at this, but I do have a great coach; I'm just enjoying my MA and giving it a go.

    After a while, things will change for you, something will click inside and you'll start to 'get it'. I think this happens naturally, in combination with coaching and developing sparring muscle memory.

    One thing though, if the contact levels are too high for you right now, it's worth mentioning that to your instructor. IMO contact levels should be stepped up gradually rather than be completely overwhelming. But I agree that higher grades shouldn't lower their game too much, else the training becomes ineffective.

    10 point summary!

    1. Train hard.
    2. Spar with higher grades in order to learn, not to win. Learn EVERY time.
    3. Spar with lower grades in order to teach.
    4. Go for 3-5 mile runs to challenge yourself and build stamina.
    5. Try to do enter a few sparring competitions, see how you get on with somebody of similar grade.
    6. Accept that there'll always be people better skilled than you.
    7. Realise that by training hard, you'll be better than a lot of people.
    8. Train harder!!!
    9. In another 2-3 years, you'll be so much better than now you won't recognise yourself.
    10. Enjoy it.
  18. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    Actually, getting braver at taking hits is a big part of learning to win (or at least hold your own) in sparring. So that's a pretty big advantage in itself, as long as the higher grades have good control and aren't just belting you. I've tended to find that, when sparring with much better people, it can be useful to get into a mindset where every successful defence or evasion is a win. Or every time you can score a waza-ari is a win. Then maybe occasionally you get in an ippon-worthy technique and you can mentally award yourself the match.
  19. Prizewriter

    Prizewriter Moved on

    In BJJ they have a saying: rolling (sparring) is learning. Like Nachi said, its about ego. If you approach sparring as simply an exercise in "winning" or "beating someone", you won't enjoy it and you won't learn as much as you could.

    Keep it playful. Use it to learn. And if you have to measure progress try this... say a black belt scores 10 hits on your during sparring. Work on getting that down to 9 hits while sparring, then 8 hits, then 5 hits. You get the idea.
  20. Jaydub

    Jaydub Valued Member

    My Dojo is fairly small and I'm pretty much the most junior student who regularly attends. I don't really look at it as "winning" against senior belts. I strive for small victories like a successful counter, or landing a new combo or technique. It's also satisfying when I don't get winded as much anymore, or when sparring with me actually tires someone out.

    As it was explained to me, it may not feel like you're progressing because they're always that much better than you. The truth is, they are progressing as you are, but the gap in skill is still there and does not close. It can feel discouraging, but I am assured that I'm getting a lot better.

    Do you think this could be the same situation for you?

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