I've recently started sparring a little at my gym (Absolute MMA,) and it is turning out to be a lot of fun. I came to the gym last Friday and Rob told me that he had a girl that he wanted me to spar with. I told him that I would love to spar, but I have an infection in my nose. He explained that the infection was Staph, and I should watch it. I guess Staph is a bacteria that we carry in our nose, and when I was kneed in the face during Jiu-jitsu, it gave me a minor infection (it is clearing up without so much as a trip to the doctor.) Anyway, the gal that he wanted me to spar with is named Alexis Asher. Alexis is an absolute badass, she is a Golden Gloves boxer with twelve boxing matches, and five Muy Thai fights. I was grateful that Rob felt I was ready for the experience, and I was also terrified. Due to the infection Rob decided that we should just kick-spar.
Kick sparring is exactly as it sounds, there are only kicks allowed, no punches, knees, or elbows. The first day that we kick sparred I was shocked with my ability to defend kicks. I planned on strictly defending the entire time, but I was able to land a few kicks, and fared pretty well. My entire left shin was covered in bruises by the time we were done, but I felt absolutely amazing afterward. On Monday I came into the gym to kick-spar again, but was told that we would be punching as well; I would have the liberty to punch Alexis in the head, but she was only allowed to punch me in the body, I was thankful for the advantage. This session went remarkably well, and I was happy with my performance. Alexis has much more ring experience than I do, and could have killed me if she desired, but she was very controlled and let me get in enough work that I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Alexis lives in Brooklyn, but is contemplating moving to Utah, I hope that she does, because she would be a remarkable training partner. I was also able to kick-spar on Monday with a gal named Sierra, which provided a great lesson in learning how to read people and find a comfortable pace and rhythm for engagement. I left after my first two sessions feeling that I had done well for my experience level, and I was happy to apply the skill set that my instructors have equipped me with. I have never been so afraid of an activity, but loved it so much. I have also never wanted to excel for the sake of another as much as I do with martial arts; I am very proud to train under the expertise of Rob Handley, Pedro Sierra, and Camrann Pacheco, and everything that they teach me I want to apply with as much precision as possible. They are amazing teachers, and they deserve amazing students. My success is directly correlated to their teachings, and I want to make them proud with my attempts to apply the knowledge they so graciously share.
Sparring on Wednesday night was not quite as fun as Saturday and Monday, and I almost cried in the ring. The addition of shots to the head was overwhelming, and to my chagrin my brain seemed to shut down, which resulted in me behaving like a deer in headlights. I hate to admit it, but sparring with men brings another level of intimidation to the game, and I can't wait to move beyond such an irrational fear.
I will work my ass off to become better at this sport. Muay Thai is simple, but not easy, and I will continue for as long as I am able to try to improve.