Thursday, September 16, 2010

Last nights grading

I had another Tae Kwon Do grading last night. This one was progressing from my third blue belt to my first red belt. The grading requirements are fairly simple, just form and sparing, but they must be of good quality to deserve the entry into red belt. This is the third grading I've had that has required sparing, so I didn't get nervous about it until yesterday, and I thought I was fairly well prepared.

The form went as well as it could. The school hall in which we do our gradings is some synthetic bouncy material that can be a little too slippery, for my liking. I rely a little on the floor having some grip for my feet so I can make my stance changes and moves swift, and yet have power. That comes a little bit of a problem when your foot might slip out at any moment.

Then came the sparing. Sparing opponents were a little thin at the "older guy" end of our belt level. There were just four of us, one of which trained at my club, another that I'd sparred when going for my second blue, and the other that I'd sparred when going for my third blue. Both of the likely opponents I had history with.

The first I had knocked over when going for second blue, by putting up a kick that lifted his already raised leg, and off balanced him. When we were warming up when going for our third blue, he looked like he had been practicing his spinning side kicks a lot.

The second I had accidentally landed a glancing blow off his upper chest into his jaw when we were sparring for our third blue. I lost a point for that infraction, since there is to be no punching in the face at gradings, but I still got a pass overall for the grading. Punching in the chest is something I've been doing in training when I get too close to land a good kick, or I get really tired. Though this time around, I wasn't going to let either of those things happen. I should mention this guy is an ex-boxer, and very very solid.

This time around, I was paired with the second guy, and we even had the same ref. I wonder if he recognised us?

I only remember giving two kicks, maybe blocking one and then smelling sweaty glove and wondering what was causing the pain at the back of my neck. And then wondering what I was doing on the floor. Oh yeah, I copped a punch in the face, and lost a little bit of memory for the second or so before it happened.

I'd like to think it was a good solid punch. It landed on my top lip, because that was all feeling pretty numb. It must have just slid under my nose, because that was bleeding and there wasn't the shooting pain and watery eyes that usually comes from such I thing. It was right in the centre of the lip, so it definitely wasn't glancing. And then there was the pain in the neck. I guess any punch in the face is going to see a bit of whiplash movement in the head.

Amazingly, I was fine! Well, I was at that point. That was probably the adrenaline kicking in, or just numbing everything. There was no blood, my mouth guard and the cushioning in his glove had done their job.

I got up. The ref asked my if I was okay. I was thinking, "I don't know. Shouldn't you do one of those pupil dilation tests?". Instead, I just nod my head enthusiastically. I'm not much of a talker with the mouth guard in. I was expecting a bit of "how many fingers am I holding up?". Instead, I get asked to breathe. So I do. I think there's a dopey grin on my face at the time. And then someone from the judges panel suggests I do proper breathing, so I do the big arms up, out to the side and in breathing exercise that we do at TKD to show I'm good in the breathing department, and I can still follow instruction.

So with that done, we're back in for round two. It was really short. I think I manage to get 3 more kicks in, two of which are definitely head height, and then it was over. I was just about to launch a spinning kick as well, as is all that is left to do when up against an opponent of my size and is an ex-boxer. I seem to recall a similar thing happening last time, when I realised that the front kicks I was landing weren't going to do much to move him back.

My trainer checked with me as I was putting my gloves and shin guards away. He said something along the lines of me catching a downward chip. Despite the lack of broken skin, and that I was otherwise feeling fine, I don't think it was a chip. And landing where it did, it sure wasn't glancing off anything else.

It wasn't until I was half way driving home, did the possibility of a head ache present itself. I popped a couple of paracetamol when I got home, and relayed the story to my girlfriend. She's a fourth Dan in TKD and fairly familiar with the sparring routine. Apparently, it's par for the course to make the second round really short, just to make sure the knocked down opponent can get back up and get back into it.

Today, my neck is a little sore and my nose is a little sore to touch. I guess it's all connected, and maybe my nose got buried in the glove padding afterall, just not enough to make contact with the bone.

I'll find out next Wednesday if I pass or not. Hopefully, I will.

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