An encore post from Colahan’s Martial Arts. I’m happy to say I did survive my gauntlet, despite myself. I have not sparred much since my gauntlet due to schedule changes and a broken toe. And because I still don’t like it much. I admit I’m not heartbroken. 😉
“There’s a popular saying among trainers: If you hate an exercise, you should probably be doing it. The reason: People tend to avoid doing movements in which they’re weak…But the truth is, strengthening your weak spots is the fastest way to build more muscle. Just think of it as the low-hanging fruit of your workout: The weaker an area is, the greater its potential for growth.” (http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/side-lunge-and-touch)
I’ve seen this theory a couple of times, and it’s hit home. While I can relate it to several areas in my life, my low-hanging fruit in martial arts is sparring.
In our system, black belt candidates go through a sparring gauntlet. I’m not looking forward to it. Sparring is the weakest area of my martial arts skills, the part of my training that intimidates me.
Recently I told Sensei that I’d probably be one of those people who go through their gauntlet and then never spar again. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I’m female, and I can do that.
I used to avoid sparring because I wasn’t comfortable doing it — partly because fighting wasn’t allowed growing up, and partly because I didn’t know how to spar. But at one point, I just had to make up my mind to do it. To force myself to go to sparring class and to learn to do what freaks me out the most. Fortunately for me, Sensei encouraged me to go to sparring class. Unfortunately for him, I showed up. 😉
I’m a very high maintenance sparring student! I require a lot of coaching and encouragement, but the Senseis are working with me and I’ve become more comfortable. Little by little I’m strengthening my weakest area and as a result, I’m not hating it anymore. I’m still not any good, but I’m making progress.
Part of my growth as a martial artist is to train in all aspects of the art — not just those I enjoy. I have a lot to learn in karate, and a LOT to learn in sparring. I am fortunate to have instructors who are willing to teach me, to share their knowledge with me, to take the time to work with me. So even though I may never love it, I will continue to spar after my gauntlet. Assuming I survive my gauntlet. 🙂