Ok, so getting hit isn’t much fun. Second session of the year and during sparring last week my trainer stepped it up and kept on coming at me, which was unnerving as he usually does this alternate rounds not every round. I found myself covering up, moving my torso and stepping backwards (but not with any purpose) and as my stamina got less and less so did my punches. It kept the blows on my gloves or elbows but at some point you’re going to have to come up and throw some back or you’ll just get battered. This is where the mental side comes in – If you come up and engage, chances are you’ll take a few (most likely in the face) and you know this. So I came up to engage and took a few in the face, and yeh it hurt! He wasn’t going full-on or obviously I’d have been on the floor but he was jabbing enough to make me worry about showing my face again – one time I came up to the side to throw a left hook and just missed a straight right as it whizzed past my cheek. Conquering the fear of this is also about learning the technique and trusting in it.
When you’re getting hit there’s 4 basic options –
1. Block the punch – with the correct technique, not just throwing your arms in front of it. e.g. elbows down and tight in to cover your ribs or arm up by the side of your head and elbow across half of your face, at an angle.
2. Catch the punch – open palm and respond with an appropriate punch or move.
3. Move out of the way – head to the side (known as slipping), moving your torso, squatting downwards or stepping back but always with purpose and economy of movement.
4. Take the punch.
The key is not to panic, keep breathing and keep moving, watching your opponents feet to indicate shifting of balance/movement and if at all possible work out his timing and combinations he likes to throw. Once you’ve got this then when you’re hit in a specific place respond with a specific movement or punch. e.g. a blow to the body = upper cut response, as you should have an idea what is coming next or where your opponent is. Sounds relatively easy but I also have this habit of blocking punches by trying to throw my own. My trainer knows this so fakes to throw then moves and I’m wide open. BOP!
Moving your head a couple of inches to the left or right (economy of movement) when a fist is coming at it instead of trying to deflect it or just stepping backwards takes discipline and nerve and this is something I’m trying to learn. I’ve been hit enough now to know what it feels like but I’m more interested in the movements and technique that come with the art. Down the gym some guys come in and wail on the heavy bag for ten minutes then leave (which can be fun) but I find the movement, combinations and responses fascinating so I spend ages dancing with the heavy bag or throwing a few light punches then moving. Hopefully I’ll be able to put everything together and it’ll all be one glorious movement of slipping the punch(es) then throwing some back in a useful way whilst saving energy and moving with purpose! But not for a while yet.