Point Sparring and Semi-Knockdown Sparring.
You see, our class does not focus on tournaments or tournament style sparring. In fact, other than a few of the black belts, no one in our class has ever competed in a tournament. Last year, I went to my first one and observed, as several of the students from our sister class were competing. I mentioned in this post that the next time the tournament rolled around, I would be there in uniform to compete.
We went over rules first. From what I remember, most of the details were about scoring and the ring itself. Stay in the ring. You get two warnings (I think) before the refs start docking points for jumping out. If one foot is out of the ring and you earn a point, your other foot has to land inside the ring for it to count. Things like that.
So now I have to not only guard and attack, but also be aware of the boundaries at all times or I'll eventually get points docked? That sucks.
After several minutes more of rules, we finally had a chance to spar. I watched a couple before it was my turn and man, were those points called quick! It was spar, spar, point! Reset. Spar, point! Reset, rinse, and repeat. Mr. G and Mr. R.S., who were acting as judges, stressed that only solid techniques would be counted as points. Air techniques, grazing the person with the tip of the gloves, and weak, sloppy techniques would not be counted. Everyone had to make their techniques count.
Finally, it was my turn. I went against blue belt C and was thrilled to be able to spar against another female student for once! It's been way too long since there's been an adult woman in class besides myself. My usual sparring partners are kids or male gup ranks / black belts. We touched gloves, and "Hajime!" was called. I found out immediately that point sparring is all about being quick! Being fast and explosive is something that I'm not exactly good at. Yet. I'm working on it. Right now I think too much and analyze everything which means that I'm spending more time thinking than moving.
Soooo, the end result was that I lost 3-0. I was disappointed about losing but I looked at it as a good learning experience. In continuous sparring, which is what we normally do in class, I don't think much of taking a glancing or decent shot in order to get in and give a better one. In point sparring though, that first shot that I might take before I give mine would be a point in the favor of my opponent in many cases. It was hard to get out of that mentality. Point sparring is a game. A game of tag. Whoever tags first usually wins.
When the black belts announced that a few of us would be working on semi-knockdown sparring, I nearly started bouncing on the balls of my feet. This was what I had been wanting to do ever since I announced to my instructors that I wanted to compete in kumite.
There weren't as many rules to this one, or at least it didn't seem like it. Stay in bounds and don't punch to the head were really about it. Instead of points being called, it was a continuous
Intense doesn't even begin to describe it. Gone was the familiar side stance that we normally use. In its place was a strong, forward facing stance. Since punches to the head are illegal, both people stay in a super close range to each other. I'm used to moving in and out of the punching range, not staying right in it. Punches to the body and shin kicks to the legs are the staple techniques. A few other kicks were thrown, but punches and shin kicks dominated. This video is a good portrayal of what semi-knockdown is like:
Once again, I sparred C. Before we began, I was told that she had experience in semi-knockdown sparring. Duly noted. We assumed our stances facing each other, and then "Hajime" was called. She immediately closed the distance and started hitting. From that point on, I was out of my comfort zone. It was completely foreign to me to stay put in that close range, even though I'm most comfortable with my hand techniques and that is what I use the most. Mr. G had to keep pushing me forward, as I was doing a lot of backpedaling.
I sparred Ms. S. next, and only then did I start feeling a little more comfortable, though my stamina was nearly on empty during the last part of that second round. I still need a LOT of time doing this kind of sparring to get a good handle on it. The tournament is a little over a month away, so I need to really need to spar as often as I can, and also work on improving my conditioning and stamina as much as I can.
All in all, it was a good night of sparring.