Had my first sparring class yesterday. Ended up being 3 hours worth of classes, as I showed up for pilates at 10:15, and the sparring class wasn’t until noon, so I had an hour of pilates, an hour of boxing (partnered mitts), and then an hour of sparring.

Do you have any idea how badly I hurt right now?

Today’s game is, “I wonder why *that* hurts?” I was trying to figure out why my forearms hurt – it’s because my forearms were taking the majority of the blows aimed at my head.

It turned out to only be two of us staying for sparring. Natalie was my same belt rank, and we’d been partnered during boxing. When I saw she was staying, I stayed for sparring, too, and we learned defensive moves for half an hour before being turned on one another.

Natalie’s no wimp – we’re the same belt rank, though I’ve got a couple more stripes, and my footwork is better. But I was also a couple inches taller than her and about 50lbs heavier. Pair that with my hesitance at hitting people, and what you end up with is me pulling a lot of my punches.

This is fine, unless the person you’re with is playing for keeps.

Lyndon said I did well in the beginning, when I was on top of my footwork, but got tired at the end, and I moved into defensive more than offensive, and Natalie got in three good hits – one to the left side of my face, and the other two to my gut. I managed to glance off the rest, but at the end, I was frickin exhausted.

It was a good lesson in why I need to get jogging again. My endurance is crap (and, granted, I’d just done three hours worth of classes. Still).

Actually sparring with a partner is wildly different from all of the other boxing drills. You can punch mitts and a bag and dance with a mitted partner forever, but trying to hit somebody who’s actively trying to hit you back for the first time is really overwhelming. It brings home what all of these drills and the harping on and on about all the footwork are really all about.

After class, when Lyndon was making observations about how we did, I said, “My problem is I have this fear of hitting people. It’s like I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

He said, “Hitting people is easy. That’s the easiest part. That’s not the problem. It’s *not* getting hit that you need to worry about.”

Ah. That’s me. Always concerned about the wrong thing.

After class, Natalie said she was coming next week, and she’s been looking for a good sparring partner. Mostly, her trouble with learning boxing has been similiar to mine, in that we’re always paired with people who are wildly higher belt ranks, and we were both pretty pleased to be sparring against somebody who’s rank was the same.

So next week we’ll be at it again. This time, I’ll be more concerned about not getting hit.

I met up with Jenn at a nearby cafe where Mary Anne et al. usually show up, but I didn’t recognize any of the other writers there. No matter. I stayed and wrote for two hours, pushing to the end of the first chapter of my latest book, then Jenn and I caught the bus and then the train home.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and I don’t know that there’s anything better than three hours of MA classes followed by two hours of cafe writing, then a nice trek home in the sun.

It’s a good life.

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