Good morning and happy November 1st! My name is Sarah and I'm new to this forum as well as new to martial arts. I wanted to introduce myself and to put some questions/concerns out there in hopes of receiving advice/help/guidance. I'm a 33 year old female. I've wanted to participate in martial arts for many years now, but have just now decided to pursue it. A lot of people in my life have asked me if I'm doing this because I want to learn to defend myself, and while that's certainly a great benefit, that is not my primary motivation. What I was always interested in, and so far what I enjoy in reality, is the actual process - learning a greater mastery of my body, becoming stronger, etc. If it turns out I have any talent I'd even love to tap into the competitive side of my personality, but therein lies my problem, really... I can deal with the fact that it takes time to build both strength and skill. Going in I wasn't exactly weak - I'm pretty strong when it comes to my legs and am building arm strength. If I have a physical weakness it's that I have a few pounds left to lose (I've lost about half the weight I need to lose total - I have about 30 lbs to go). I know it will take time and practice to improve, both of which I haven't had much of, but there is one thing I'm seeing no improvement in and it's starting to really frustrate me: sparring. It's been 6 weeks total. I take an MMA class on Friday nights and Sunday mornings and a karate class following the MMA class on Sundays. It's the standing up sparring bouts during MMA classes that I'm starting to dread. I'm not afraid of pain at all - I'm afraid of how frustratingly impossible it always seems. I don't know how to describe it - I end up just freezing because every time I try to punch or kick I can feel how clumsy and unskilled my attempts are, coupled with the fact that the other person does not seem to be having the same problem, and eventually I just freeze not knowing what to do. It seems like what I try is just plain wrong and that would be okay if I was improving, but it feels like I'm stuck in that mode class after class (only with sparring - everything else I'm able to work on is getting better). I don't know how to get it to click. I do well on the ground, and I think it's because when I'm wrestling there is no option to freeze, and so instincts of some kind can take over until what I have learned can kick in. I am here hoping that what I'm experiencing is not unique, and that someone (or a few someone's) can lend advice as to how to break past this beginning phase of sparring. If nothing else it feels good to be doing something in talking about it. I really love everything else about the experience and it's very important to me not to let myself become discouraged. I want to continue growing my skills for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your time!