One of the things that the corporate world has taught me is to conduct a review. For example, a few weekends ago I engaged in some friendly sparring with the St Louis Garimot group. On the drive home, I tried to evaluate my performance. Objective review is difficult, though. In my evaluations, the tendency is either to be too rosy or too harsh. It’s hard to be objective but also necessary.
During that sparring, I was happy with the knife sparring. I had a few live hand taps combined with thrusts. I need to work on my footwork, and my defensive tapping could use a bit more polish. My stabs were good. I just need to add more slashing in the long range part of it. For the largo stick sparring, I have work to do. My defense and entry skills need improvement. I didn’t enter as well as I would have liked. Granted, I was sparring with skilled FMA players; so, I also have to recognize the good that they did as well.
I do this evaluation as much as possible after sparring, testing, and working out. I try not to evaluate my performance after regular training sessions of just drilling and learning. During the learning sessions, I am working on specific movements or concepts, and it is immediately apparent what needs improvement. If I’m working with my teacher or more advanced students, they take the time to instruct me on what needs work. If I’m working with a student, the student usually teaches me in that the flow isn’t correct or the technique feels wrong.
I even do this evaluation after my cardio workouts. During my recent workout at Title Boxing Club, I pushed myself. At the end, my arms were shaking, my legs were rubber, and I thought I was going to puke. On the drive home, I thought about what I liked. During the combinations, I was much more relaxed throwing punches because I was so tired. I was too tired to tense up! My goal when I get tired is to work on my form. When fighters get tired, they get sloppy. I do this as well; so, when I am tired, I try to focus on form. For example, when I jab, is my fist rolling over? Is my shoulder covering my jaw? Is it coming straight from the shoulder? Is my guard still high or are my hands down? I was really happy with my technique, but my footwork needs work. When I get tired, my footwork around the heavy bag just disappears.
I love this type of evaluation because it helps me improve during the less instruction heavy moments of my martial arts education. I do not write these evaluations down in a journal because I would focus only on what is written down. Instead, I keep a generic list of what needs improvement in my head. This allows me to improve overall instead on the specifics written down.
My last sparring session was with Team Kali out in St. Charles. I focused on largo range sparring. Footwork was on my mind. I did okay, and as I got tired, the footwork went out the window. But I didn’t care. I was having fun, and it’s important to make sure that the review doesn’t get in the way of the fun.