Training Diary: Weeks 5 and 6

I had to take two weeks off for a holiday and then got one session in the week after, finally covering some guard passing which was very interesting. Working still in very small groups of people which can be good but makes it hard to get much of an energy going. At the end of the session, we worked on some stand up skills, including using head movement to slip punches. This is a skill that Taekwondo people tend to ignore and pretend doesn’t exist because they don’t tend to punch full contact and tend to brawl/blitz combinations that require more serious action. However, it’s something of a self deception not to learn this skill because it’s really essential if you end up standing in the pocket against hard boxing style punches. Work from the clinch seems fun and interesting but hard to practise safely.

The next week, Taekwondo at the university started back up again so I managed to fit in the first Taekwondo session in between two Grappling sessions. I won’t do that in future weeks as three late evenings can be a bit much and plus it’s harder to maintain attention span for techniques. However, it was the only way I was able to get three sessions in this week and I’m going to work up hopefully to four in the week. The Taekwon-do session was short and mostly just a reunion but my legs didn’t feel too bad for the break in terms of kicking high (though work to re-polish the turning kick is needed) and I’m sure I can pick the sparring back up with just a little practise again.

Some of the techniques this week were quite hard to pick up, mostly passes where you throw your body over the top and hip throws, which I have always found difficult. It seems that the pace of the class is very fast as there is so much to cover and most of the time what seems to happen is trying to visually copy the technique you have just seen and having critical pieces of information about the technique explained online after you can’t get the thing to work. It’s probably just the fact that whereas strikes and grappling both use the whole body, the shapes made in striking are essentially logical and similar to every day tasks everyone knows how to accomplish – throwing a ball or pushing with one hand for example. The bodily shapes made in grappling often don’t resemble any kind of other learnt actions and require much more attention to figure out where things are and what is happening. The slow and sometimes haphazard way of picking up techniques in the grappling differs a lot from Taekwondo where everything is planned out for you and the best teachers give you simple strategies for sparring rather than ad hoc collections of techniques. This and the infrequency of live rolling means it’s hard to imagine picking up much of even a basic knowledge/skill base for any foreseeable future but that’s very much how the martial arts work, you just keep working at it until it happens.

I have my rash guard now and I’m considering the utility of knee pads. I’m sticking with cheap athletic shorts though – no need for pointless logos.

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