Last Saturday, I participated in a Sanshou training session for the selection of the Belgian national team. I was asked to come take a look at the new talent and also to consider taking up the post of national trainer again. So I put on my gloves and shinguards and spent an hour or so sparring with a bunch of 20-something young guys (and one girl).
Here are some random thoughts that came out of that session:
- I can still hang with the young bucks. Yay for me! :-) I’m 39 and well past my prime as far as competing is concerned. I never stopped training since I hung up my gloves, so I’m in fairly good shape but it was still nice to see I could hold my own. Also, these guys are not yet at their peak right now as the world championships are still a long way out. And maybe they were taking it easy on me, who knows? But as far as I could tell, I landed a lot more shots than they did and I wasn’t the one counting stars when that happened.
- My timing has improved a lot. Some things never worked for me when I competed, like slipping punches. I saw them coming but always reacted too late. Which is why I usually blocked or parried them. But the last year or so, I noticed that I instinctively started slipping and bobbing my head to make my training partners miss. I first figured it was because we’d been training together for a long time and I could “predict” their moves now. But it turned out this works just as well with fighters I haven’t met before. Cool. But I sure would have liked to have had this skill 15 years ago when I needed it…
- Nothing works better than basic techniques. Pretty much all I did was throw jabs, leg kicks, a cross here and there. Maybe a hook or two and a few trips/sweeps. I did do one spinning heel kick but only because he was wide open for it and my orientation was just right. Other than one more crescent kick, nothing fancy. Those basic techniques worked just fine. Like I said in the previous bullet, my timing seems to have gotten better as I didn’t throw them as fast as I could have but they hit the mark well enough.
- My basic strategy has changed compared to 20 years ago. Just like most fighters, I’ve changed from when I started competing. I was pretty aggressive back then. Not so much nowadays. I’m no longer interested in running after an opponent and much rather have him come to me (when it suits me best.) That way he does all the work for me. As a result, I’ve developed a more defensive and specifically, a countering style of fighting. It seems to work well enough for me at this point in time.
- The basic requirements of full contact-fighting haven’t changed. I teach my students two things when they start training for competitions. IMO, everything else flows from there:
- You have to be able to generate forward pressure.
- you have to be able to absorb the forward pressure of your opponent.
If you mess up either of these two things, I don’t believe you can fight effectively in the ring, cage or on the leitai. You can fake it for a while and if you’re in shape, that can last for a while longer still. But the first time you face serious opposition, you crumble. [Read more…]