Friday night class at Contact Kicks Dojo, like many Kyokushin dojos, is usual focused on Kumite. A grueling night in the summer heat, leaving us exhausted, beaten, but very satisfied.
Stamina tends to be the deciding factor for many, including myself. Taking Sensei Fogarasi’s words of advice I try to pace myself, knowing what is coming. Taking it lighter earlier on, or perhaps preparing yourself for specific fighters, who you know will really bring it.
The test of kumite, I am learning, is not the physical. Though I am learning the techniques that are helping me to improve my defence and offence, it is the test of will that is more demanding. Learning to push yourself past your limits. To move forward, when your body wants you to retreat. To keep your hands up and “dig in”. To tap into your reserves and not give up. Learning to overcome the physical pain and exhaustion to preserve in the arms of defeat. To try to never let them see you sweat.
Friday’s can be tough, and you find yourself looking to the more senior students for example. Trying to emulate their abilities. There is one thing though, that myself and many others are guilty of. Pausing exhaustion in the guise of learning. And Sensei picks up on this.
You can find yourself being physically dominated by a senior, more experienced, student, senpai or teacher. So, what do you do? You ask a question. You ask the person you are sparring with something about how to defend against an attack. Or, advice on what you should do. Etc. These things are fine, and the senpai or teacher is always nice enough to offer this help. However, often the real reason we do this is to pause the action, regroup and “buy time”.
It’s important, as Sensei Fogarasi has pointed out, that we try to save our questions for when the sparring ends. This not only helps us, by developing our fighting spirit, etc. There are also a couple of other reasons.
One, whatever instruction you are given in that moment, it is highly unlikely you will be able to apply it right then and there. So, it is better to seek the advice after, and give time to practice and develop the technique, before trying it.
Two, and more importantly, when you pause and interrupt the action, you are interrupting the opponents flow. More senior and advanced fighters are in a zone when they are sparring. Working their own techniques and trying to flow with the action. When someone interrupts this, the person is removed from their concentration. As Sensei said, you are disturbing their moving meditation. Like you wouldn’t distract someone in seated meditation, you should not do it in moving meditation, or kumite.
This is a valuable lesson, which teaches us to buckle down, survive the onslaught, learn from our experiences, develop our stamina, and come back stronger and more focused next time. Developing your fighting spirit!