So yesterday I attended Chris class at [our dojo] for some sparring. I strongly believe that Sparring is about the most specific conditioning tool in any combat athlete’s arsenal. Obviously, it has two very distinct disadvantages:
- high risk of injury, especially at a faster pace and/or when the contact gets harder
- neglecting to balance high sparring volumes with even higher volumes of technique practice (i.e. padwork, shadow sparring, …) might lead to the degradation of movement patterns (= technique!) as those are constantly performed in a fatigued state
Therefore, while sparring certainly is an important aspect of any martial artist’s training regime, it’s just one tool amongst many. [Ronny] always compared sparring and technique practice with wielding a sword. In this analogy, technique practice stands for polishing and sharpening your sword, while sparring means actually fighting. Without regular combat practice, a fighter won’t know what to do when it really counts. (Needless to say, a fighter who doesn’t fight doesn’t really need to carry a sword to begin with…) Still, on the other hand, constantly fighting, hence failing to take proper care of that sword will leave it blunt and useless. Aristotle spoke of the „golden mean“. Guess he had some martial arts experience, huh?
Anyhow, to come back to the topic at hand, we devotet around one third (~30 minutes) of the class to sparring. [Chris] was there, as was [Thomas], [Frank] and obviously [myself]. Also, there were some great students of ours: Andy, Alex, Lotte and Hannah. Plenty of choice when it comes to sparring partners. Even before the sparring started, however, Tom hurt himself doing a sidekick – most likely sprained an ankle. Just what you need a week before stepping on the mat. Obviously, his participation in the [EC] is now rather questionable.
This immediately brings us back to the high risk of injury… now since I’m pretty much burned out myself (lost much weight, trained at high volumes, lots of stress at university,…), I’ve decided to take things easy. Real easy. As in not even breaking much of a sweat. I’d rather get hit a couple of times than move violently and end up injured, like Thomas.
Bottom line: yesterday’s training wasn’t all too productive. Even worse – one of our team got hurt. I wouldn’t call that a particularly good day.
I had to get up pretty early today (at least for my standards). Spent two hours in a lecture room dealing with discrete mathematics. Then, more math, to complete some of the exercises I have to hand in on monday. Finally, I had a meeting with a member of the institute’s scientific staff, to discuss a particular algorithm. When it was time to train, I was mentally wasted. So, again, I decided to take it easy. My initial plan was to do the following:
- Warm up with the [Warrior Warmup Routine]
- Do 5 rounds of shadow sparring
- Hit the heavy bag for 5 rounds
- Skip rope for 5 rounds
So much for my plans… the main training area (there’s 3 training areas for classes at [our headquarters], plus a gym, a spa, a cardio area…. basically, everything you need) was occupied, so I had to use one of the smaller areas. However, there are no heavy bags there, so I had to replace the heavy bag work with something different. As fate would have it, Chris showed up, an hour earlier than usually. So, we seized the opportunity and did some padwork. In the end, today’s session looked like this:
- 3 rounds á 3 minutes of rope skipping as a warmup
- 5 rounds á 2 minutes of padwork
- 5 rounds á 2 minutes of shadow sparring
- 3 more rounds á 3 minutes of rope skipping, for good measure
That makes 38 minutes of net training time, all done at a very easy pace. Nothing fancy, nothing hard. Just going through the motions. Then again, sometimes that’s the best you can do – show up, do the bare minumum and go home again. I firmly believe that’s still better than not showing up. In the end, it’s about what you did, not about what you were planning on doing but in the end didn’t…
I actually filmed the session, but then I decided this stuff isn’t even worth watching, so this post will remain text-only. This just might change tomorrow, as that’s when I’ll do my final sparring session before the tournament. After a nutritious meal and a good night’s sleep, I’ll probably be back on my feet tomorrow. Looking forward to good times!