Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trying to keep up - pt 2 of 2

Aside from consistency, the major thing missing from my training regimen the past few months has been getting different looks sparring. There are quite a few bodies in my gym, but too many of them are cut from the same mold, whether it be size, style or a lack of experience (or just flat out skill - let’s be honest.)

Now while this can be easily remedied by, say, going to a different gym to spar for a day, increasing rounds but slowing the pace with a “newbie” to fine-tune technique and try new stuff, or making sure you’ve mastered an attack plan for a particular style through repetition, there are some molds/types/styles that you just can’t get used to unless you see it early and often.

Southpaws often need “approached” like this. There aren’t a ton of them out there and they give lots of people problems in the ring from, well, squaring up “backwards.” If you don’t have a lot of experience with them, they’re bound to give you problems or - best case - take you out of your element and force you to fight differently than you would against an orthodox fighter, even if it’s an adjustment as simple as the direction you circle.

Having said that, over time I’ve learned not to completely hate lefties. Rounds and rounds of sparring and countless (thudding) left hands have made me quit thinking “oops, I need to quit doing that” after the fact and be able to step into the ring knowing how to best counter and attack a lefty.

Where’s this leading? Well it ties into last post’s question about tall, rangy fighters.

Because last week I learned that I haven’t spent nearly enough rounds with taller fighters lately.

And I still am not even close to figuring them out.

Tall fighters are not tough automatically because of their height - they're tough when they use that height and create an advantage. And this isn't just purely by reach, but also defensively through shoulder rolls, slips, leans and just good all-around, defensive upper body movement.

My recent experience was with a super slick, lanky 152-lber from another gym who came in for some work. While I had some early success getting inside, neutralizing his height and banging with him, he moved well enough and fired off enough jabs that I (stupidly, out of frustration) tried to start jabbing with him and fighting at a distance.

Which is not smart when you're facing a finesse fighter with a 4-5" height advantage.

In the end, we moved around 4 rounds, with me kicking his tail on the inside for the first 60 seconds...and then him picking me apart for the last 120 of each round.

Lesson learned. Get inside early and get comfy there - his arms don't seem so long close-up.

This sparring, of course, was part of my training for my sanctioned bout this Saturday, 12/5, which is still confirmed. While I don't feel like (rather, I know I'm not) in the immaculate condition I was before my hiatus in October, I've upped my sparring and drills (4-punch drills/exchanges, jab drills, the partner stuff I'm not usually a regular with) and have done what I can with the time and energy allotted. Aside from some big-time trouble breathing because of my crooked shnozz, I think the only think needed now is to keep ramping up my mental preparation and sharpening the chip on my shoulder. And even then, with mental prep comes confidence and relaxation, which will only help my energy and stamina in the ring.

It's all connected, it's all catching up, and it'll all come together beautifully Saturday. It will. Like it always does. For serious.

So long as my opponent's not tall.

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