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David's Tip of the Day: Advanced Player Beatings

David Barrett Admin's picture

I started sparring in martial arts tournaments as soon as I was allowed to (gold belt). I would often win my division, moving on to compete for grand champion, but always losing to the blackbelt division winner... no surprise there.

My story for you today starts with me just receiving my red belt, the second belt in the advanced ranking of belts. Though I was studying advanced material, my skill set was essentially still that of an intermediate student. My form and application were ugly, but of course I didn't know it... I was an advanced student!

The next tournament I arrived and found that they had no under belts and I would be competing with all blackbelts that day. I figured it would be a short day, but I was up for it... I was in shape and as red belts often feel, hungry for a win.

The first fight was relatively easy... he was smaller and my reach advantage was too much for him.

My second fighter was young and strong. I came charging in and received a scoring side kick to the chest... later a kick to the ribs... then a kick to the throat (that was a wake-up call). As much as could to move around and be tricky, my attacks were inline and predictable to a blackbelt. I ended up winning the fight, but I was pretty tenderized.

I advanced in my division and the next blackbelt was bigger than I was and he scored, among other things, a spinning hook kick to the jaw... not the best time to have your guard down, especially as a harmonica player. Again, I won the fight... barely... and I advanced to fight for grand champion.

I ended up fighting my sparring instructor for grand champion! When we saw we were fighting each other we both laughed, touched gloves and I expected the fight to be over quickly. He obviously took the fight lightly, and soon I was in the lead... 3 to 2, and the first to 5 wins. I saw his face become stern and the fact that he was well known for breaking opponent's ribs became very present in my mind. I expected him to come in blazing now... he had the speed advantage. I switched from my aggressive plan that I used all day to one of counter-fighting. My plan was to off-step, let him pass and counter attack for the final two points. It worked.

After tournaments all those that competed from my school would commonly go out for dinner together. I always looked forward to those dinners. Even though I was excited from the win and starved, I literally couldn't eat. I was mentally exhausted and physically beat up. I remember thinking to myself that my innards felt like someone was using me as a punching bag all day... I quickly realized that it was true!

My intermediate and newly-advanced blues harmonica students... think about how this story relates to you. We'll discuss the moral of the story tomorrow.