Quantifying Kinematics

December 6, 2015 by Rieshy

I don't love you Sparring.   I know I used to, you didn't do anything wrong; No, really it's not you, it's me.

I've fallen for Rolling.  We get along better, Rolling makes more sense to me.  I feel less awkward around Rolling.

Can we still be friends?

Our dojo has a fun, healthy attitude toward sparring- great people to spar with and wonderful Sensei.  It's not the setting it's not the support, so I've been asking myself why I don't love to spar.  I love to grapple, I love the Judo I've been exposed to even if it almost entirely consists of me learning ways in which I can be pitched through the air.  But sparring? I'd rather wall kicks any evening.

During sparring or stand up self-defense I often am transported to the middle school dances I chaperone where the main move is simply trying to catch up with the beat without looking too stupid.  Not to mention, sparring is startling, I'm bad at seeing things coming. While sparring I frequently see what just happened and what I just did wrong or what opportunity I just missed instead of seeing in real time.  During stand up self-defense I often start the exercise feeling defeated, just waiting to get flustered and girly and feeling out of control.

Rolling?  It's a challenge but it has a significant difference- you have a hold of your opponent.  You can feel them shift their weight, and fists and feet aren't randomly flying from outside of your peripheral vision.  Even just one hand on my opponent makes me feel more confident and less like I'm about to die.  Afterwards, I replay the roll in my head and still see what I should have done and opportunities that I missed, but they make sense and it's exhilarating; no matter how many times I tap out, grappling makes me feel strong.

My husband joked that if I had spent more time as a kid imagining trajectories of toy rockets and the geometric planes of cars jumping jumps it would have helped my sparring.  If I had, perhaps the visual of a collar bone shifting from its natural horizontal to 30 degrees might mean something to my blocking arm before I get bopped in the head. Too late now; so how to remediate?

I'm going to try something new.  A mind game to trick myself into not being startled sparring.  A mind game envisioning connections before physical contact is made.  Think invisible strings that form the edges of the geometric planes connecting feet, elbow, fists and knees.  Invisible strings that I can plan on using and pretend to have contact with.  I don't know if I can see quickly enough during sparring to manage it- but with the slower practice speed of stand up self-defense maybe it will form the beginning of the end of my super-ability to psych myself out.


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