When I was a kid learning Tae Kwon Do, I hated sparring. I don’t like to fight. Being small for my age didn’t help. It was my least favorite part of the lessons.
Jump ahead 20 years to the present. Sanchin-Ryu, the style my daughter and I have been studying, has been a very different experience for me. Take last night. We had a session of fighting practice. I was the lowest ranked, least experienced student in the group. Among other things, I took a punch to the groin (thankfully, the black belt who threw that punch had very good control), as well as a punch to the back of my fist[1. There is a scene in Red Hood’s Revenge where Talia uses this move. Trust me — it’s effective.]. That one’s still sore this morning.
I had a blast. Yes, a part of me is wondering if that’s a sign of deeper psychological problems. But mostly I think it’s because with this style and group of people, there’s always a clear understanding that everyone wants you to succeed. It’s not about winning or scoring points; it’s about helping you to see and understand what you did well and what you need to do better.
It reminds me very much of the editorial process. My editor kicks my butt with every book. My agent often jumps in as well. (Much like the me-against-two-black-belts scenario I had last night, actually. That was fun!) I usually come away bruised, but it’s a good thing. They’re not the enemy; they want me to succeed and improve.
And if one of their comments hits a little too hard or in a particularly sensitive spot? Well, you can bet that next time I’ll be paying attention to my form and technique to make sure it doesn’t happen again.