This video has been making the rounds the past couple of days. Instant classic. Look at these kids, bouncing around like little bunnies. Notice they have a pretty standard fighting stance before the fight starts, but as soon as it starts, their hands drop like all Tae Kwon Do trained fighters do, because they’re waiting for their opponent to kick them so they can dodge and kick back. No hands involved, just lightning-fast feet and brutally strong legs. Unless you’re an adorable child, like one of these little monsters.
I had dinner with Little Iron Friend about a month ago, and really enjoyed it. I made the ramen, and we chatted about how I got my ass kicked at that one sparring class at the kung fu studio. She’s a solid person. Plus, we drank Lo Han Guo, which I love and haven’t had since the old days of tae kwon do training! Hooray, so good!
As I’ve mentioned before, Saturday is the only day I have completely off. On my other day off I spend four hours at the Kung Fu studio teaching, sweating, and learning ancient ways to become even more of a badass. There weren’t many people around for Thursday night’s intermediate class, so it morphed into a wrestling/sparring class. It was pretty fun. I got roped into doing the Saturday sparring class.
When I mentioned to Diminutive Roommate that I’d be sparring for the first time in five years, she was confused. She thought sparring took place during regular classes. She couldn’t figure out how I’d been teaching all this time, and hadn’t sparred even once. So let me take a moment to describe sparring the way it’s generally taught at martial arts schools. Traditionally, sparring is when two trained martial artists throw on some gear (gloves, shin pads, head gear, mouth guard, chest padding, etc.), and exchange controlled hits to test their reflexes. No one’s going for a knock out, or even attempting to injure their partner. To do so would be disrespectful, and defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Or so I thought when I said I would be happy to attend a Saturday sparring match. I was mistaken. Before this class, I had never attended a sparring session where it was acceptable behavior to:
-intentionally and repeatedly aim strong punches to the head of an opponent not wearing head gear
-offer no apology for incurring even a simple injury like a bloody nose
-the majority of the class completely ignore instructions to use only 30% power
-a high-rank student is permitted to intentionally use more power than an equally-ranked partner (against that partner)
The instructor was very helpful and gave me some really excellent pointers. He was very engaging and clearly interested in watching his students improve, which we did over the course of the class. So I’m pretty heartbroken to say that there’s very little chance that I can go back to that class. I have since learned that my partner of equal rank (who we’ll call Kris) is apparently known as “No Control” Kris. Yikes. Why is she allowed to spar? Why intentionally injure your classmates? Is your training really so important that things like restraint get lost in the process?
Maybe I’ve just gone soft. It’s been five years since I sparred last, I’m not in my best shape, and I did well considering. Frankly, I’m feeling good about my performance, but I have a lot to learn and a lot to improve, but… I won’t, because I can’t go back to that class if that’s what will be allowed from her and other students.
I don’t want an apology. I want to train. I don’t want a concussion, but I want to learn. Gotta make this happen.