Kumite, I need to evolve

After the sheer exhaustion from training the entire weekend (Summer School 2013), being nervous for 6 weeks and the grading itself(now a shodan-ho a black belt), we finally did our kumite.  What I learnt is that I can take the blows really well, that I can start to see peoples strikes coming towards, and that I have plenty of willpower and the inner animal.

However there were a few problems, first as some friends (and news one made that weekend) pointed out it was quite clear that I was in between styles, my natural style is to be aggressive, dominate driving through my opponent with a short stance and close range punches and knees. However through being overtrained the last year and therefore injured I haven’t been able to spar in this format, hence why I have been trying to develop a counter attack and work on the backfoot more. The problem is with this style that I go backwards but I lose any chance for a counter attack as all my weight goes in retreat, I need to learn to drive forwards whilst going backwards.

Even though I thought I was changing my style depending on the opponent apparently wasn’t the case. All my early fights were very defensive (especially if you have a big south african chasing you! lol) but as I got tired my natural state became more in focus, my aggressive tribal nature. As my best friend said, the problem here is that I should of been aggressive when fresh and defensive when exhausted. Daniel doesn’t do things like that! Once I faced the blackbelts was interesting, the first was a lightening fast nidan, his kicks were immense! When he eventually took me to the ground, I damaged my ribs, but I got mad, no one takes me down and injures me! and it was a rocky moment and I came charging at him with knees and punches, the look I saw in my sensei’s eyes when I let my inner animal animal is one i never want to forget, he looked proud. The next blackbelt is a solid built man, you can throw a strike at him and he seems to not even notice, we went toe to toe and he seemed impressed with me, I felt honoured to earn his respect.

The next guy towered above me i’m 5 11 and 13 stone (well at the grading, I might of bulked up in the last few days!) he was at least 6 2 and between 16-18 stone, I knew that my legs wouldn’t work anymore so I put them in zenkutsu dachi and prepared to trade blows with him. The first blow was an upper cut to my chin, I was impressed that I could take a blow from such a big strong kiwi! we traded a few blows and I end up grabbing hold of his right arm and held him so he couldn’t move it, and to what I thought was only a few seconds (I have been told it was more like 20 seconds) I smashed him with my right hand with big swinging punches. After the end of our bout he said to me damn your strong, all I could think of was that I survived a david vs goliath fight.

The reasons I was swinging my punches is that I normally have a very short range stance and rely on short range punches that i can generate alot of power, but the moment I knew that I couldn’t kick and just had to weather the storm I went into a long range stance, my best friend is a long range fighter, personally I don’t think I have ever fought in a long stance before, and it was clearly unnatural to me. I clearly need to get use to fighting in one if I end up in that situation again.

I am happy I passed, but not the way I faught. I didn’t use my main strengths and even know I did well, I remember watching some of the others going for shodan-ho as well and they fought amazingly, whereas I had to survive rocky style.  I know I can do better, I need to improve my high kicks, there were a number of times when I could of used them and knew that i didn’t have the control for them, I need to use kakie more, to use my short range power punches more, I need to blend my aggressive style with my retreating style, I need to work on my footwork, I need to develop lighter feet ( there was one moment when I actually switched step a few times then kicked, to trick my opponent, I never knew that I could do that!), I need to increase my endurance, stretch more. I know I might sound harsh on myself, but seeing some of the Bristol kyu grades really proving themselves, and some of the london lot being outstanding means that I need to prove to them the kind of karateka fighter I can be, I have a year to prepare.

A year. First thing will be to allow my body to rest, last year I trained hard straight away for this black belt and I have been overtrained and injured for large parts of it. I will have a break from my second main hobby of strength training, my passion for this art has really increased, and I want to come back into it fresh and fully recharged. I want evolve and prove to myself why I deserve to be a black belt.

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One Response to Kumite, I need to evolve

  1. I look forward to being on the field with you again!

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