When reality smacks (punches, kicks, knees, elbows) you in the face

23 Sep

Tuesday night is sparring night at NY Best Kickboxing (AKA “NY San Da”). For us sparring can take a lot of different shapes. It can be Muay Thai format, it can be San Da format, it can be all out Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). We indeed go full contact. There are bruises, a few bloody noses, a broken nose has occurred from time to time over the years.


To train for fighting, the first obstacle is FEAR. For striking, that fear is usually the fear of getting hit. Not everyone has it in them to be a “fighter,” but most people can get over the fear of being hit, spar and get some functional skills. Personally, I think this is the responsibility of every martial art and every martial arts instructor, to get those who CLAIM they want to have functional skills over that fear…. or at least let them confront it


A few weeks ago, two of my black belts were sparring. Both have fought in combat sports, one actually has a very extensive competition record. But for both that time is behind them. They aren’t “young,” but that isn’t something to be upset about. An old warrior is a distinction, to have survived the many battles. In life also, surviving the many struggles that life puts in front of you, to be old is something to be proud of.


Two things to note here. Despite being past their competitive yeas, in sparring they are the kings on the mat. Experience means everything, don’t ever doubt it. Or “age and treachery always beats youth” or so the saying goes. Part of that experience is of course having gotten past fear.


The second thing to note was when the two sparred eachother. It wasn’t a world championship, it wasn’t the UFC. At times it might have been sloppy. Errors were made (they are ALWAYS MADE, no one is “perfect”), but these two people, past their competition prime, still have functional skills. I can say with confidence that if they had to “defend themselves” (the topic of self defense being worthty of its own blog for sure) they most certainly could.


The skills they have they developed with sparring, with partner work, with conditioning, with bag and pad work and in both cases also with some competition. I know the so called “traditional” martial arts people talk about these things, and how they in fact do them, but I’ve yet to really see that be true. At best, I have seen SOME sparring, SOME pad work, etc.,


Is it “dishonest” to put “self defense” on your door, your flyer, your website, etc., and not actually force your students to develop functional skils? Yes, I used and BOLDED the word FORCE. Because a student on their own will NOT develop these skills. I know people who take the classes, and never seem to find their way into the sparring on their own. You have to tell them, “if you want to be able to use it for real, start taking your lumps.”


Of course, if you don’t really care, that’s fine. But far too many so called “martial artists” talk about fighting without ever doing any…. They rest upon how good their teacher was, or his teacher, of the grandmaster of the past. Frankly, WHO CARES! What can YOU DO? hmmmmm…….


Few things in life that are worth having are easy to come by. And the process of achieving them opens our eyes and shows us truth. You can’t find truth hiding in your closet with your tin foil hat and your fingers in your ears.



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