Need help with sparring

Discussion in 'Women of the Martial Arts (Women Martial Artists)' started by MidnightBlue, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. MidnightBlue

    MidnightBlue Yellow Belt

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    Good day, everyone,

    For about the last fifteen years, I've been an on-again, off-again martial artist due to a number of things that interfered with training as a teenager and in college (my education, my adolescent attitude, some non-martial arts related injuries and broken bones, and a very traumatic experience that left me pretty nervous and uncomfortable around men in general--the last piece is probably key). I'm a first dan, but I've been at this rank for the past 8 years because I have only trained for a few months during that time.

    I am in a tang soo do school that I really like now, and I see my technique improving in forms, one-steps, basics, etc. However, when it comes to sparring, I... suck. If I'm sparring with someone my rank or lower, I'm not too bad, but though I hate to admit it, I find myself feeling very self-conscious and severely lacking confidence, especially against men and males of higher rank. Logically, of course, I know they won't hurt me, but I still am horrible. I don't move quickly against them and I hang back. I find myself over-analyzing everything and thinking way too much. They tell me not to think and to just react... I know this is logical, but I seem to struggle anyway, especially when I see how good these guys are when they against other upper-rank men.

    I realize this probably sounds dumb, but I would really appreciate some supportive advice. I think I over-think sparring out of nervousness. Has anyone gone through anything similar? Does anyone have advice for improving my confidence or even some techniques/combinations that can help me start to improve, rather than staying in this stalemate with myself?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!
     
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  2. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    All I can offer is this:




    I'm not joking; just relax and won't worry about it. It just doesn't matter. Don't be afraid to suck and you might find you don't.
     
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  3. granfire

    granfire Sr. Grandmaster

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    Spar more.
    Especially with those guys.

    I experienced a similar thing when sparring with my instructor. Although he was by no means an imposing figure he did cause severe AWE moments. Not to mention that he was really THAT good and really quick and all the god stuff.

    Try more counter drills: When your opponent does y, you counter with X. Repeat often.
    Get into the habit of combining your moves. Like a front leg kick, a back leg kick, and a couple of hand techniques. (being that you need to close the distance to your opponent)

    Having a game plan is good. Heaven knows, in the beginning I had to just about draw a diagram during a match to set up a technique. But it gets easier as you practice more.
    Honest!

    In our school, the higher rank set the pace and was allowed to ask the lower ranks to throw certain techniques for them to practice (which i have actually never seen, mostly the higher ranks told the lower ones what to do to get better) so you could use that to practice combinations in a sparring round.

    once you do them often enough you will find them ingrained in muscle memory and hard to avoid performing them.
     
  4. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    Pretty much this.
    Relax.
    Take it easy.
    Dont push the pace.
    Dont give them a reason to push the pace.
    Get comfortable.
    Youre in a safe environment.
    Consider it a lesson in Perseverance and Confidence.
    And when Youre more Confident, it may well be You who chooses to up the ante.
     
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  5. MariaK

    MariaK Yellow Belt

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    Hey,
    You are not alone in your feelings. I go regualrly to adult classes where most of students are first dan (WTF taekwondo) and higher rank. I'm just a blue belt. I feel sometimes like a "punching bag" during sparring. However, when I complained about it to my instructor - he told me several wise things that I rememebered and that came out to be true at the end. First, as a woman, if attacked in a real "street fight" situation - you will always face a bigger and stronger opponent and you will always be scared. So, while sparring with these "scary" and tough guys in the ring you prepare youself psychologically for a "street" situation. It's much better than when you feel youself "compfortable" with an opponent. Next, when sparring with an "equal" opponent later, you will transfer your skills from fighting a more "dangerous" figther - and you will win just because you trained with a stronger fighter. When I attend classes with lower level belts - women told me that they are actually scared to sparr with me because of my quick reaction that I developed in response to figting with "black belt" guys.

    Hope this helps a bit,
    Maria
     
  6. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    No this does not sound dumb in any way. It is perfectly understandable. I know exactly where you are coming from. And so do not think there is anything wrong with you, there is not :) I think you should ask yourself what it is that you want to get from this practice of TSD? Can you tell me why you are doing it? I would really like to know your motivation :)

    I do not read overanalysing in your words. I read an overcoming. I also do not read a quitter in your words or in your history. I read the words of someone with perseverance and determination.

    If you have been hurt you will not go seeking it again. I understand this. Applying logic to the demeanour of your sparring partners I think is not what will help you overcome. I think what will help you overcome is being firm about your own motivation. WHY are you practicing TSD? When you can answer this it may help put the obstacle on rollers so you can more easily move it aside.

    I hope you gain the insight you need. It is always residing inside :) Kind wishes, Jenna
     
  7. WC_lun

    WC_lun Senior Master

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    It sounds like perhaps you may be having an issue many guys suffer from when sparring. That is you don't want to look bad in the seniors' eyes. This causes you to hesitate and not be at your best, because you have to run everything through that filter. Sparring and fighting is too quick paced to be worried about anything other than the essentials. Trust those seniors not to hurt you. Also realize that they have been where you are at. Trust in yourself to be at the skill level where you need to be and just concentrate on training.
     
  8. malteaser14

    malteaser14 Orange Belt

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    Hi :)

    I totally understand where your coming from. I've only been training in kickboxing for 8months and I've had to overcome 'man issues' as well. I've gone from not feeling safe around senior guys, to feeling like the club is my 2nd home and the guys are an extended family. If it's your man issues preventing u sparring try to identify 1 or 2 people your happy to spa with and stick with them. Even as training partners to take it easy. Just explain you've been off and your a little ropey.

    However, learning to spa with the senior grades I find is the best experience. They take it a little easier on u and explain blocks and counters.

    It will just take time and repitition.

    Oh and if an opponent is doing some fancy kicks I find a sidekick will usually travel faster then the attacker!! :)
     
  9. MidnightBlue

    MidnightBlue Yellow Belt

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    Thank you so much for your kind words--every reply has been supportive, and it means more than anyone on here might ever know. It's hard for me to define a single reason why I train... why, even when life interferes, I keep coming back to it. I guess I feel like it's in my blood. It affects how I walk, how I talk, how I treat others... not to mention how I turn light switches on and off or close the refrigerator door. ;) Really, maybe that's the main reason. The other reasons vary--when I was a child, it was "neat." Then, it was a great way to get/stay fit. When I got a little older, it was vital to be able to protect myself. But, through it all, it was in my blood... as are the people... they're like family, in so many ways. Last, but not least, I think I also train because it's a way for me to focus on my self-control, trying to perfect myself and to be regimented, disciplined.

    Hmm. Why do you train? :) Heck, I'd like to post and ask everyone why they train, but that's probably already a thread somewhere!
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  10. MidnightBlue

    MidnightBlue Yellow Belt

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    Haha, thanks. I do have two different senior guys that I'm pretty comfortable with, but they're not there too often because the one works out of town a lot and the other went back to college. :( I guess I'll just have to perfect my sidekick. :p And, well, I've just decided to start counseling for the "issues," so I'm hoping that translates to MA, too.
     
  11. MidnightBlue

    MidnightBlue Yellow Belt

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    The filter idea is an excellent point--I've never heard of it, but you make it sound like other people really deal with this, too. I do understand what you're saying about trusting... I guess my issue is, well, "Then what?" I have a really hard time switching off my brain. I have tried planning combinations ahead of time, thinking of applications from forms, etc., but then it never seems right... I can't find appropriate times to throw the combinations, and then suddenly my planning to just react becomes me over-thinking again. :(
     
  12. MidnightBlue

    MidnightBlue Yellow Belt

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    Thank you for your advice! Can you please suggest a few counters that you know usually work? I don't understand why this is so hard for me, but I just don't seem able to think logically anymore about being attacked, even if it's just training. In my do jang, a lot of students throw reverse punches and jabs; if that's their X, what would you do for Y? The one master I spar sometimes is very short (shorter than me, and I'm 5'3")--he's amazingly fast and gets very close to me, very quickly, with jump techniques... I literally freeze like an idiot every time. I'd love some ideas for that, too. It seems like I never counter quickly enough, even when I know what he's going to do, and if I try to move sideways or back up, he just ends up in front of me again. Thank you again!
     
  13. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Not a lady but I hope that's okay...

    This is going to sound stupid, but it's water around the rock. Don't think, don't process, just adapt and flow.

    Remember Star Wars, when Luke is trying to loosen up and feel what the droid is doing so he puts his blast shield down? same idea. As a 1st Dan you know what you're doing, you'll surprise yourself if you relax.
     
  14. MidnightBlue

    MidnightBlue Yellow Belt

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    Thank you. :) That may be easier said than done, but I'll sure try! :)
     
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  15. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    It's absolutely easier said than done, but all you need is some faith in yourself.
     
  16. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    I really like that you have in your mind all these wonderful reasons for training - and you must promise not to back-kick or hammerfist your light switches when you are just out of the shower as electricity, water and MA do not go well together lols!! :D Thank you for sharing these things. I am grateful to you. I am also truly happy that you are getting advice here from all these people that is worthwhile. Everyone on here has their own way of dealing with issues and some or many may strike a chord :) You are right to ask the questions!

    I would say that to overcome your block regarding sparring, perhaps it may help to come around the obstacle from a different angle. So instead of imagining how you can push through your block, imagine instead being pulled through it from the other side. How? By keeping in sharp focus all those reasons that you are practicing. So instead of analysing all the negatives of "why not", sometimes I think it is useful to latch onto the positives of "why" and which are the motivations you have presented so well. I do not know if that makes sense :) I wish you all my wishes that you figure it out. I know you have all the skills you need :)

    And yes, I am sure there are threads like that though new threads are good too as many will never see the older ones. So nothing wrong with you starting your own! It is all good :) Me I train for safety both from without and from within :) I look forward to your new thread! Please take care meantime, Jx
     
  17. granfire

    granfire Sr. Grandmaster

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    Nothing specific, really.
    Construct it like a one-step combination: Pick an attack and think what's logical to counter it. Also think multi-dimentional, not just back and forth, but use all the room you have:
    Step to the side to avid an attack. That also can bring you closer and in a more favorable angle to your target.

    So if you are facing a kick, you pick the most logical means to avoid and block it, then return the favor. After all, to attack the defenses have to come down a bit.

    And I get you on the short people! One of my instructors is maybe 4'11" TOPS...but the phrase 'dynamite comes in small packages' was coined for her!

    But I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself. while you do hold a dan rank, you are, due to lack of exposure - still on the very beginning of your journey.
    Allow yourself to suck and relax. ;)
    In time you will start to see the signs of what is coming at you next. Now, you still might not be able to get out of the way, but that is another matter! :D (I had one of thsoe moments near the beginning...my partner raised his leg up for an axe kick. I saw it, knew what it was and still...I could not move....hit me square on the thigh! :lol: the kid was so apologetic!)

    Maybe you need to tell your partners to give you a reminder though when you are in a match. I know I have always told the lower ranks to throw this or that technique when they seemed to get stuck and awestruck by my BB. ;)
     
  18. imitation_vanilla

    imitation_vanilla Yellow Belt

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    I completely understand. If there's something I'm doing poorly, I get very self-conscious, which just distracts me further. If there's a person in class that you feel particularly comfortable with, I'd try to arrange for extra practice with him/her.

    Give yourself time and patience.

    When you get flustered, take a deep breath, maybe repeat a catch phrase, and remind yourself that you're there to learn. Not be perfect right now, just learn. It may also help to meditate before class.
     
  19. CTope

    CTope White Belt

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    Use the whole ring. Other judges cant see you land a point if you stay in the same spot. Move around. Have fun.
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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