This weekend, I competed in a local karate tournament. Four years ago, it was the very first tournament I'd ever been to. New to martial arts, I promptly got disqualified for contact to the head. I felt like an utter idiot.
Flash forward to Sunday. I sparred against a young man who thoroughly kicked my butt in about 20 seconds. Again, I felt like an idiot - not because I got beaten so badly, but because of how I fought. I actually didn't really fight at all - just stood there flat-footed and out of my element, reduced to the human equivalent of a Wave Master. Tough to get any points in JuKumite if you don't actually throw any techniques.
But not only didn't I fight, I did the "deer in the headlights" thing, standing there like I had never been in a ring before and had no idea what I was supposed to do. The reality is, had I met my opponent in the street instead of a sports environment, I might not be typing this right now. Yeah, it really was that bad.
I was so pissed off that I wanted to scream. Instead, I cried, which made everyone within a 10-mile radius assume I was really hurt physically, prompting them to ask over and over if I was OK. That, of course, made me even more upset, which made me cry harder. Stupid vicious cycle! I even get teary now thinking about what I didn't do in that ring.
We train to react to "situations" with real, live, evasion, kicks and punches. Blocking/throwing techniques is supposed to replace paralyzing fear enough so you can do what you gotta do: fight or flee. But for some reason, not only did instinct abandon me, but my training did as well, as I didn't fight or even move the heck out of the way to keep from getting hit. Doing nothing hardly seems like the appropriate response in such a situation, but that's exactly what I did. What the heck is up with that?
The tears came from the realization that perhaps I really don't at all know how to apply the techniques I train to grasp. If when confronted by something new or something unexpected, I freeze, am I training for naught? What is it I'm doing if I only use what I know in the controlled environment of the dojo? Will I be able to apply it when I really need to? And I'm supposed to be testing for my black belt in a few months. Yeah - I feel totally ready for that (insert eye roll here)...
Even two days later, I want to hide under the covers when I remember my time in the ring. GAWD...
Anything like this ever happen to you?