Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Sparring Day

For the last year-and-a-half, i've thought of Tuesday as sparring day. Just over two years ago i started studying Choy Li Fut kung fu, and about a year later i reached the point at my school where i was allowed to do continuous sparring (in which you fight continuously for 2-minute rounds as opposed to point sparring where you stop when somebody scores a point). I also spar on most Saturdays, but for some reason Tuesday is sparring day.

We spar with quite a lot of protective gear, including head gear, groin and chest protectors, and shin guards. The worst injuries i've seen are a torn ACL, a couple of broken hands, and a broken nose. So far i've been lucky-- my worst injuries have been limited to large bruises on my forearms and shins that go through grotesque color changes.

I enjoy sparring for some inexplicable reason. Part of it is probably the adrenalin rush, but by the time you've been doing it regularly for a year or so that has diminished considerably. The competition is fun, but you often learn more from losing ("invest in loss", that's our mantra). No, i think the reason that i enjoy sparring is because of the intense feeling of satisfaction that you get from the rare occasion where something happens just like it's supposed to. It takes several months before you stop thinking about every move you make and then suddenly everything becomes just slightly faster, slightly clearer. You still think, but i sense that there's some part of the brain that gets bypassed as you get more experienced. Like maybe when you're starting, your brain has to visualize what you're trying to do before you do it; but when you're more experienced it just sort of refers to a memory. When you get in a clear shot, or evade a strike and follow with your own, it's similar to the strange mental consonance that you experience when you hear a particularly moving bit of music or read something that you wish you'd said first. It is, for lack of a better word, spiritual.

The down side of sparring day is that my class ends at 9pm, and i still need to eat dinner and get home. My insomniac tendencies are exacerbated by this situation, and it's not uncommon that i'll be up until 2 or 3 in the morning reading or watching Girls Gone Wild infomercials ('cause if you have basic cable, that's probably the only thing on at 3 in the morning). This hits me hard about 3pm on Wednesday, when i have to inject black coffee directly into my eyeballs to stay awake.

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