I haven't sparred since the end of July, making Saturday's Black Belt Test #1 with the combat sparring VERY SCARY. So when I arrived at class last night and learned we were sparring, I felt a little relieved to get the review. Sparring in class is "Point Sparring" which means you only get credit for contact with your opponent's head or stomach area. Because it's "Point Sparring," you only use enough force to get the point--sometimes that amounts to a mere tap, other times a WHALLOP!
I also dial it down or up depending on my opponent. We had one beginner in class last night, she's only using her hands because she's totally overwhelmed by the entire thing so when facing her I moved at a very slow speed, nothing fancy, allowed her a couple points to build her confidence. Another woman in class is very quick and athletic--with her I have to force through to get points. We hit each other harder and it's an exhausting and very physical round.
Then I faced Mr. K, one of the assistant instructors. He's wicked fast and does lots of fancy spinny-turny-twisty kicks (yep, that's official martial arts terminology for those of you new to karate). I'm not good enough to beat him in a match, but I am good enough to defend, evade, keep his score down and get a few points to my credit. But Mr. K doesn't wear full gear and as a result we always end up hurting each other. His heel in my chest cavity. My bony shin against his bony kneecap. This unintentional (and often bruise-inducing) contact is a result of speed--Physics 101.
I hate sparring instructors who aren't wearing full gear, but I've had to learn to get over it or I get my a@@ handed to me. So last night we were at it full throttle when in a final move as the other instructor yelled "TIME!" we both sent up kicks--a classic "Clash of the Titians" move--except his kick went higher and mine landed in his--erhm--tenders.
Mr. K fell to his knees, eyes watering, voice a tad higher. Oh boy, did I feel awful. I mean, he should have been wearing a cup, but still...
The night progressed and then it was time for the final round of the class. I looked for a new sparring partner. All that remained was Mr. K, now recovered from his earlier injury. "Salute. Touch Gloves. Defensive Stance." Final round before Saturday, when I know I'll face off against Mr. K in combat style. Huge breath and Go!
I scored two points. He scored fifteen or so (I lost count). Then, as the other instructor yelled "TIME!" Mr. K came at me with one of his spinny-twisty-turny kicks and in one of my new defenses against that move, I ducked and turned around because contact with my butt doesn't count (and doesn't hurt so much). Success! I ducked low enough and fast enough that his leg missed me completely. I stepped forward, momentarily elated that I had evaded his kick. And then I watched as the momentum from his kick kept him spinning full circle--then over--then onto his foot which then rolled and turned in a horrible way. Mr. K never got up again.
I feel terrible. For a half hour I watched him writhe in pain on the floor, face pale, shaking, toes turning purple. We applied an ice pack, elevated his foot and called his dad. I watched him ride away towards the hospital where they probably told him his ankle or foot is broken. There are 28 bones in his foot--how many are involved? How long will it take him to recover? How will this affect his classes (he's a college student) or his income? Does he have insurance to cover the ER visit and treatment?
The only thing that makes me feel an eensy bit better is that I didn't cause his injury through direct contact--that would make me completely guilty. Landing on his foot and rolling it was a fluke--a horrible mistake. But a dreadful knot remains in my gut even this morning.