So as you may already know I started Kickboxing in January. The classes are run, by Rebels Kickboxing, on Wednesday nights from 8-9.30 in my local hall in Dromcollogher (For €6 per class it's a bargain). At the start I really didn't know what to think about the classes as I never really saw myself doing something like this but after the first class I loved it and was hooked!
At the start our trainers, Pa and Damien, had mentioned that there was an option for us to try sparring down the track. To be honest I actually never thought that this day would come but 2 weeks ago, after only 7 weeks in, we began sparring. I still can't believe that I, the biggest wimp on the planet, began sparring. My head was buzzing so much afterwards that I couldn't sleep.
Since I started kickboxing I've felt great about myself because not only am I trying to get fit but I'm also doing something for me and slowly building up my confidence. This has all been helped by the support and encouragement from our trainers. Yes they are tough on us and sometimes I feel like screaming at them but they have a huge deal of respect for each one of us. They are so encouraging and constantly tell us to "Listen to your body, not your mind" and to "Push yourself to your limits, not someone else's limit".
Pa and Damien believe in the importance of explaining why we do certain exercises/stretches and what areas of the body it will target. They are huge on the belief that if you are doing something wrong then we all need to stop and see how to correctly perform an exercise/stretch. This is not done in such a way that it singles one person out but rather to correct everyone and to explain the reasons for performing each exercise correctly. They emphasize the importance of using the correct technique so that we get the most out of the exercise or stretch, otherwise we may as well stay at home on the couch. They also don't want to see any of us getting hurt and like to keep the environment comfortable and enjoyable for us all.
When the first sparring class itself rolled around I was excited but nervous. I genuinely did not know what to expect from sparring. This was so out of my comfort level that I wondered if I would be able. At that stage there was no going back as I had already purchased the gear, shin pads, mouth guard and gloves. Once I got inside and saw that everyone else had the same feelings and apprehensions as I did, I felt some relief.
We all wore our new gear, shin pads and gloves, for protection and to start we took the pace nice and slow. We started off with a few drills, working in groups of 3. I found myself constantly apologising every time I hit someone else's gloves incorrectly or had a poor kick. The main aim of last night's sparring was to teach us to keep our hands as high as our eyebrows, so mentally training ourselves to protect our faces.
For the actual sparring, we were only allowed to use 2 moves, a jab and kick off our front leg. We were told that the hits should be soft but that we were to try to outwit our sparring partner. The hits and kicks should only be soft enough to push a fly out of your way and not to kill it! This was all to teach a lesson on how to protect ourselves without hurting ourselves.
Now if I were to say that I didn't end up hurting myself I would be lying. First of all I threw a kick but instead of meeting the pads I hit my toe off my partners elbow. It brought tears to my eyes but I just thought that I needed to suck it up as it was my own fault for not aiming correctly and watching what I was doing. I also ended up with 3 large bruises on my shins, even though I was wearing the shin pads but this is because the skin on the shin is quite thin and so bruises easily.
Regardless of the few bruises, because these really are only a minor thing, I loved my first sparring experience. It helped hugely that I got to spar with one of the trainers so this encouraged me to think more and to focus rather than just having the craic. For the next few sessions I need to work more on breathing correctly, in through the nose and out through the mouth, and perfecting my kicking technique so as to prevent any more bruises.
That night when I went home I was on such a high after the class. The buzz during the class was fantastic and it was clear to see that everyone enjoyed themselves. Yes we are all at different stages but everyone got so much enjoyment out of the class. Sparring isn't actually as scary as it sounds. Roll on next Wednesday night!