Overcoming the fear of sparring a specific opponent, and my bad habits

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Ivan, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    I am a green belt. I don't know too much about belts in taekwondo, and whether it differs unedrneath separate boards, so I am the third belt you're given under the board WRSA (it goes white, yellow, green etc). As a green belt, I am now allowed to spar more frequently; I now spar (usually) almost every session, and there are 2 sessions each week. I have experience in others arts, including JJJ and Boxing and Capoeira. I am not profecient in any of them, and I quit boxing a while ago because of issues with my coach. I am around the same area (belt) for all of them, but my boxing has helped me a lot to be better in sparring than the usual for a green belt.

    However, recently a new person has joined who has kept his 3rd rank black belt in TKD (he was under the same board) and is training to be an assistant instructor. He participates in sparring along with the other black belts, and because I am not a junior (13 or below) I spar against black belts too. Usually, I hold my ground well enough to land a couple of good shots and in some cases dominate the fight (not trying to brag). However, all of the black belts I've sparred up until now in the club were in first rank; they are nothing compared to him!

    Now, my fighting stance is the Philly Shell, except I stand a bit more sideways so I'm in a better position ot kick and I'm a smaller target.
    [​IMG]
    I move around. A lot. This is mostly because, of me suffering my first knockout in boxing a while back, trying to block a hook from someone much bigger and stronger than me. The fear of this also causes me a lot of problems with agression and offense in a fight (or lackthereof), me not being able to get myself to punch with my back hand for fear of being too exposed, and whenever I dodge, it's almost always backwards.

    Back to new guy, I cannot touch him whatsoever; even if I try to get close, he manages to kick me incredibly hard considering it should be harder for him to use his legs when I'm all up in there, and he also creates and maintains his distance super well. Moreover, he feints his kicks so much and they're so damn quick. He doesn't use his hands at all, and doesn't ever punch.

    I have a lot of trouble being offensive against my normal sparring opponents as it is (though I've been overcoming it slowly and made some progress last week) but against the new guy, who is also bigger, faster and older, I simply can't defend or attack. Especially with my bad dodging backwards habit. He punishes me brutally with axe kicks to the head. He is very agressive, arrogant and annoying, but I can't really say anything about it.

    How do I overcome these problems and fears? What do I do? Please help. Thanks.
     
  2. Christopher Adamchek

    Christopher Adamchek Blue Belt

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    If you really dont like you can say anything to your instructor or him, then ask for more sparring drills in match ups rather than free sparring.
    Even if he annoys you, ask him for pointers on getting better, it could ease the barrier between the two of you.
    Try to spar with other non black belts to boost your moral a bit.
     
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  3. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Im going to say the opposite of christopher. Va3sically you're annoyed that you can't beat him? Then spar him more.
     
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  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    There was a similar guy at my dojang. He was several inches taller than me, in better shape, more experienced, and more naturally talented than me. He used his length to great advantage and I couldn't even get close enough to try to kick him.

    One day I went up to him and said "tell me how to beat you."

    He gave me a lot of good advice.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    It's somewhere in the middle. You should spar 3 types of people:
    1. People better than you, so that you can learn from them and strive to be at their level one day
    2. People worse than you, so that you can see how much you've learned, you can help be person #1 for them, and so you can test out moves you're not comfortable with yet
    3. People about on your level, so you can have real competition
    Now, in regards to person #1, that person also needs to play to your level. If their skill is a 10, and your skill is a 2, then them going at level 10 all the time isn't going to help you. If they're too fast for you to even follow what they're doing, and they never let you do anything because they are so dominant in the fight, then you won't learn anything. Just like if you're trying to build strength at the gym, and the bar is so heavy you can't even lift it off the rest. You build no strength in struggling with that bar.

    However, if they go down to a 3, 4, or 5, they can push you to improve, while still being a better fighter that you can learn from. At a 3, they can push you to try and win. At a 4 or a 5 they can show you some ideas that you can try out. (And then maybe drop for a 1 for you to try it and then back up). You can go at a 10, but for short bursts.

    If someone just completely dominates every fight, it's not very helpful.
     
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  6. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I disagree. If i go against someone who completely dominates me every fight, they'll keep on doing so. But I'm still learning from how they dominate me, and hopefully get dominated less. The thing is, if i go from a max 2 in ability to a 4 against someone whos at a max 5, i notice the difference. If i go from a max 2 to a max 4 against someone who stays around an 8 or 9, compared to me, i wont notice the difference as much, but it's still there if you know how to look for it. But dont make the immediate goal to beat them.

    That said, they're not the only person you should train against, for the reasons you stated.

    Also, i know im using numbers a bit different than you were, but it was the easiest way imo to compare them
     
  7. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    You already
    You already know what you need to fix and do...stop moving backwards....against a bigger and better kicker that's exactly what he wants you to do. If he can force the fight to be linear then he can use his advantages better.

    Focus on foot work and angles. Try....When he feins or starts a kick instead of moving backwards quickly circle him and force him to turn and you attack while he is re-orienting.

    Dont always move the same though...you got to mix it up.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  8. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Also we have had good luck with side kicking big kickers. Develop a good fast sidekick.
     
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  9. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    If the guy is hitting too hard maliciously or in bad faith, speak to him or an instructor, but unless that's the case, Skribs hit the nail on the head:

     
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  10. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If I have absolutely no option, then I have no room for growth. If I cannot make any progress in the fight, I cannot make any progress in my fighting skills. If it is such that every move I try is so easily blocked and countered, but every move they do is so fast and accurate I can't even try to use my guard, then sparring against them is pointless.

    If "trying stuff" and "standing there" result in the same basic level of success, then I don't learn strategy and don't get to practice applying the technique.
     
  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I think the difference here may be how we define "dominate". When a white belt decides to see if they can slip something by on me and I shut them down and play with them (what they're hoping I'll do), they don't really get a chance to learn, because I'll change what they're dealing with at every step. If I did that with them every class for 100 classes, they'll learn a lot less about how to beat me than if they simply practiced with someone of their own level.

    If a purple belt (just before brown) decides to see if they can slip something by on me and I shut them down and play with them (again, what they're hoping I'll do), they still get a chance to learn, because it'll take everything I have to keep shutting them down completely, and they'll eventually get something through when I make a mistake. Give them 100 classes of that, and they'll probably actually figure out some of my tells and (if I don't learn enough in the process) will become a real challenge for me.

    If I can shut someone down quite easily, then there's going to be less for them to learn from in just being shut down. If it takes more of my skill, the other person is going to be able to find some openings, and can learn from those successes. Failure teaches, but you have to have some success to work out what the failure is teaching.
     
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  12. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Ive never experienced a situation where there waa no option. Theres always the option of keeping my distance, and trying to find the limit of his distance of being able to hit me, or learning the combos that he likes from experiencing them, then trying them on my bag on my own.

    The closest ive come to that was a guy in my fencing circuit my (i think) second year, who was faster than me, more accurate than me, his technique was better, and his reflexes were better. I think during the entire year i got two single points (meaning not double touches) on him, both from trying things he would never expect, that he adapted to after.

    I learned a lot from him, as i had to figure out ways to be creative, and practice those ways in between meets. I also learned where my deficiencies lay (ie he would always get under my wrist from a parry four, after a bit i realized that i would raise my elbow slightly) and was able to adapt my training program based on what i learned from sparring him.

    I wish i could say that thanks to that i was able to beat him the next year, but i think he graduated and i never fenced him again. Pretty sure he would've kicked my *** that year too though
     
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  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    There are some people at my school who are very uncoordinated. They don't have good technique, flexibility, or speed. People who are in their 40s and decide "I need to do something to get into shape", or else kids with low physical motivation. They are very easy to outclass to this degree.
     
  14. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    From what i recall of OP, he doesn't fit that role.

    Either way, the uncoordination or lack of technique/flexibility/fitness isnt a factor that makes a difference on whether sparring someone much better than you helps. The only one is your motivation/durability. If you're going to treat it as "this guys too much better than me" and not be motivated to improve, then yeah it won't help. If you're going to treat it as "this guys where i want to be", and use all the loses as motivation, and actually think about the match afterwards to see how you can get better, accepting you might not see the results anytime soon, than it helps a lot.
     
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  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If you don't see any path to victory, then it can be more harmful than inspirational.
     
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  16. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    You lost to someone better than you deal with it. That's how these things go. Do you really think you can last with - third Dan black belt? Keep training and getting better that's all you can do
     
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  17. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    It's not about lasting against him, it's about not being scared to spar him or at this point, beginning to dread my classes rather than looking forward to them :( . I can take my losses, and I've taken more losses than wins.
     
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  18. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    There's a difference between competition and training.
     
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  19. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    There's always a path to victory, it just depends how you're defining victory, how much you're willing to work, and how long you're willing to work for. Thats my point
     
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  20. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Just because it's there, doesn't mean it's obvious. That goes more so for someone who is in the beginner stages of an art, who is still building training habits and confidence. Unless the beginner needs a wake-up call, a significantly higher belt going 100% against beginners is going to be wasting their time and wasting the beginner's time. It's a waste of their time because they're not getting any meaningful practice out of it, and it's a waste of the beginner's time because you set such a steep hill for them to climb, they get stuck.

    If you meet them halfway, you're building your skills as a leader, and you're still pushing them to improve.
    • Slow down enough they can see and react to what is happening, you build reaction times. Then speed it up as they get used to it.
    • Get them with a combo at full speed, then do it at half speed so they can see what you did, and let them try it on you.
    • Find a hole in their tactic and exploit it (for example, if they always show back kick, then go past it and get behind them). Then tell them how you exploited it.
    • If you are completely dominating the fight, tell them a weakness in your strategy (for example, if you are using your range to your advantage, give them advice on how to close in).
    • If you see they're working things out, let them. Go at a pace where if they use good strategy they may score a hit (even though you'll score 3 back on them).
    Doing this actually teaches them things, it makes them WANT to spar you in order to learn. Even if they're getting kicked 10x as much as they kick you, they're learning from it. It lets them see progress, lets them have a newfound respect for your knowledge and skills, and it gives them a positive reward when they improve.

    If all I do as a higher belt is try to score as many points as I can, or kick you as hard as I can, then I'm not trying to help you. I'm just using you as a punching bag. That's a pretty toxic environment.

    Note that a match is different. If we partner up in class and we're working on tactics, I'll help my students learn. If they were to challenge me to a match, I wouldn't hold back.
     
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