Being punched in the face doesn’t sound ideal really, and if I’m honest I’m not really a big fan of the practice. I took a hit last night during kumite (sparring with someone else), and at first I was bit shocked!
I’ve been quite terrified if I’m really really honest of kumite mainly because I don’t want to hit anyone. Actually, kumite isn’t about hitting someone as hard as you can to score points. It is more – and this is what I think makes it incredibly difficult – punching or kicking or whatever with intensity and power, but controlled so that you stop short from delivering all that to your opponent. When I’m sparring though I’ve been mostly thinking about how not to hit my opponent, which I now see was doing me no favours either. Taking a hit then, is a lesson I plan to use.
When I started karate I really didn’t fully think through that I was learning to fight. Obviously karate is fighting, but its so much more as well. And in the beginning I was really focused on it being about learning to move. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to start karate if at the beginning I’d thought at all what it means to learn to fight (that is, sometimes you might get kicked, sometimes you might get punched, you get knocked down, you get up again etc).
Good that I didn’t think about it! Cos I would have missed all the good stuff, and the good stuff you get from risking being hurt.
You do risk getting hurt when you give kumite a go, but testing yourself in this way is fantastic training for your brain/body. Its where you can practice your intensity, test your reactions, improve your impact and power alongside your ability to judge distance, and control your movements. For me its going to work out my adaptability muscles big time. I was admittedly upset when hit in the face – not that it was a huge king hit that sent me flying, glasses and teeth one way, rest of me another. There was no blood, and sadly no bruise. Just a flood of tears, like I got hit in some big sack of emotions that I keep just above my right eye.
What it has taught me is that I was a fighter already, just in a different way. Getting hit and crying about it is okay. I will get used to kumite, and you need to experience the shock of a blow a bit, at first. And it has re-taught me (I seem to keep learning this over and over, never not needing a re-fresh!) that everything is learning, this included. Through this I can become a more multi-faceted fighter, and get better at kicking PD in the butt. It takes a few blows to temper steel.
And also, most importantly, when sparring with lightning fast 13 year-old brown belts, don’t forget to block.