As I mentioned in a previous post, the number of classes offered at the dojang for beginner (white/orange belt) adults was recently cut somewhat drastically. At first I was kind of frustrated and alarmed -- I try to attend class three nights per week, as well as training with my children at the once-weekly family all ages/all ranks class -- so I contacted Sa Bom Nim and asked whether there was anything that could be done. As it turned out he had anticipated this concern, and to compensate for the loss of class time he invited all of the adult beginner students to attend addition classes with the adult green/red/black belt students as desired.
They're longer classes, with way more students attending. Obviously, due to the advanced level of the various students, the techniques that will be studied will certainly be beyond my ability to safely attempt at this stage. But that's cool -- in mixed classes Sa Bom Nim and the other instructors have always been careful to adjust instructions for lower-ranked students to ensure we don't get in over our heads. However, a big significant characteristic of the non-beginner classes is that they prominently feature free sparring as part of each session, typically at the end of the class.
If this isn't a classic example of "careful what you wish for" I don't know what is.
See, I haven't done anything resembling "fighting" since I was about 16. In spite of my size (I'm not a small guy by any means) and fairly boisterous personality, I'm not a physically aggressive person -- never have been. And while I knew that free sparring would eventually become a part of my training I sort of pictured it being a more "far far off on the horizon" sort of thing that I would gradually work up to and feel all "prepared for" when I got to it. Like one day I'd walk into class and the idea of putting on head gear, a mouthguard, fist and foot pads and "soft fighting" wouldn't feel like a big step. Like, maybe once I got to my next belt or something I'd magically not be nervous about this stuff. Sure seemed like something I could keep at bay for a while.
Well, looks like that was a bit premature. If I want to continue training more than a couple of (short) nights a week, then advanced class is the only option. And that means free sparring. So I've gone and purchased all of my basic sparring gear and will be attending the advanced class for the first time tonight.
I was talking with a few other students after class last night about how nervous I am about this, and one of the students (an extraordinarily dedicated red belt who often helps out with the white/orange belt classes) tried to boost my confidence a bit by noting that only a couple of the students aren't controlled enough when sparring, so getting hurt was a fairly minor possibility. And the boost was certainly appreciated.
But what's funny is that getting hurt isn't what worries me at all. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about accidentally catching the occasional punch or kick. I mean, this is martial arts, not jazz tap class. It's not fear of injury that's kinda freaking me out. It is, once again, that good old fear of blowing it. Of looking like a fool while I try to "get it." Of accidentally hurting someone else with my fairly dangerous combination of significant strength and utter lack of control.
In other words, fear of having to learn something new. Fear of stepping, once again, outside of my comfort zone. Pretty much the same fear that resulted in me spinning my wheels for months before finally deciding to take the plunge and join the Tang Soo Do Academy in the first place.
Well, looks like I won't be spinning my wheels this time. I've got my gear. I'm going to class tonight. There will be free sparring. I will almost certainly get my ass handed to me most sincerely. Should be fun.
Mood: On edge
Now Playing: Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"