Aside / Kickboxing

A short note, relating thoughts about facing an opponent who is stronger than you. Or simply bigger of frame. Or smaller, but faster.

I had another good session of kickboxing, drills followed by some sparring. Afterwards I was struck by how much I learn each time I spar. My own weaknesses (confidence in my punching, fear of taking blows to the head, feeling old…) and strengths (flexibility, heavy hands and legs, a certain delight in collecting scars and bruises.) Each weakness speaks to something in my basic personality I would love to strengthen (dislike of confrontation, dislike of discomfort, peace with aging…) and places to keep pushing (my gifted physicality, strength, and courage.)

I was talking to another student from class afterwards, and found myself chatting about how I approach confronting an opponent. I try to identify my opponent’s strengths and how I might counter them. I also look at my own weaknesses, and think of ways to avoid them, considering my best guess at my opponent’s skill set. Nothing earth shattering, for sure, but essential if you like to *not* walk away from class every week with facial contusions.

And then the buzzer goes off, we tap gloves, and most of that goes right out the f*ing window. They are bigger and stronger? I will use speed and flexibility (kicks towards the head and whatnot) to gain some room to work. They are faster than I am? cover the vitals, throw a couple of *hard* jabs and leg kick, move in, and pound away. It is amazing to me how those simple truths remain critical, regardless of whom I have faced. Cover the weak bits, work your strong bits, and take your opponent off balance.

When the rubber meets the road, or the leather the face I suppose, that is as complicated as it gets. Any more complicated and you are going home and explaining to your wife/kids/mirror why you have another black eye.

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