Spar Sunday – First Black Belt Session of The Year Complete!

As you may already know, I am working towards finaaally obtaining my First Degree Kickboxing Black Belt in March 14 please god (approx 6 weeks out). This will ultimately lead to me teaching my own Kickboxing and Martial Arts classes, with a particular focus on Women’s training.

As the black belt prep sessions will now commence every Sunday in the lead up to my 1st Dan grading, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you my journey in the form of ‘Spar Sunday’. 

The Black Belt sessions kicked off last Sunday, but as I was unable to make it due to other commitments today was my first session.

Hosted my Sensei, me and six others from my kb academy met in the studio car park earlier this afternoon around 1.30pm where we made our way upstairs to The Body Studio.

the-body-studio-northwood-hills-heavy-bags-boxing-kickboxing

Now I absolutely LOVE this studio, just for the simple fact that the studio which we use has three heavy bags in it (two normal and one uppercut bag) a circuit timer and agility ladder. Whilst it may be on the on the small side the mirrors are a great addition as it allows me to keep an eye on my technique.

Eager as ever to get started we put our bags down, made sure our liquids were at hand and stripped down to our uniform. After a brief couple minutes of catching up Sensei bowed us in and we were ready to be put through our paces!

The Warm Up

Usually in a typical class setting our Sensei would first lead us students through a 10 min mobility warm up before proceeding to do light cardio to increase our heart rate but in this instance it was straight to light cardio.

The choice was to start with either three minutes on the heavy bags or three minutes cycling on the spinning bike keeping a steady pace (there’s no second guessing what I opted to do first).

Marvin, Chris and I gloved up and took to the heavy bag whilst Jo, Darren and Jamie opted for the spinning bike.

Let’s Go! Sensei shouted and it was straight to work. If you have had the pleasure of training with Sensei Marvin, myself, or the rest of the group for that fact, you will understand that we are a noisy, enthuiastic and motivational bunch (covers face).

There was lots of noise and grunting as we connected with the bag whilst the others on the spinning bike kept up their pace. The two minutes or so that was allocated went by pretty quickly and before I knew it was time to switch around.

Go! Sensei shouted and we were off again. I had Sensei to the right of me and Chris to my left. Slyly looking at the speed their legs were going I attempted to match them but learnt pretty quickly to ease off and go at my own speed. I kept between 85-92 RMP and towards the final 30seconds felt my legs getting a little heavy.

After the warm we progressed through some light stretches, with a particular focus on leg stretches, took a quick breather and gloved up ready to be paired to go through our technical sets.

Technical Sets 1 – 10

I naturally partnered with Jo and we began to go through our sets. Sensei would often walk around the studio, looking at each of us to detect any faults and bad habits we were doing so he can make us aware in the hope to correct them.

It was no surprise that I got pulled up (numerous times may I say) for my guard being too low!

When I teach beginners I over emphasize about their guard being stuck to their face  but for some reason, when I am training, I have developed this awful and unexplainable habit of having my guard just below my chin or worse, near my chest?Thus leaving me wide open for a counter punch or kick! (sooo not cool).

This is something I feel is easy to correct, and shall be extra aware of it going forward please god.

Another thing Sensei mentioned to me was my punches coming up a  little short of the target area (must extend the cross and pivot on my rear leg more).

See, when you are going for any Dan grading within our academy, everything you do gets looked at in very fine detail for there is a level to sustain when at this status, and rightly so.

It’s best to get these little problems ironed out before grading as no one wants an Instructor that can’t demonstrate techniques within the syllabus consistantly.

Bag Work and Ariel Kicks

We got to technical set 10 and it was time for a change. The group was split up again with three on the heavy bags and three with Sensei over on the kick shields.

This time I started on the kick shields where we had to perform a rear jumping push kick landing forwards. For those not familiar with this technique I shall break this down so you get an idea of what we had to do.

“In left stance (left leg in front of you and right leg behind you and knees slightly bent) lift your left leg off of the ground, drive the left knee up to your chest and use that momentum to lift your rear leg off of the ground in the form of a jump whilst extending that same leg in front of you so the sole of the foot makes contact with the kick shield. Transfer your bodyweight forward to make the person holding the shield go back and land with your right foot in front of you”.

This I found ok to do successfully but if I must critique myself it would be to reintroduce Paul Zaichik’s Elastic Steel method on splits training back into my regime on a daily basis which will help me complete my ultimate dream of doing the splits whilst also enhancing my kicking ability.

Marv and Jamie did this with eloquence and after two more rounds whilst changing stance it was time to alternate.

Four minutes! Sensei shouted and of course Marv, Jamie and I went for it. If it was noisy during the warm up I don’t know what you would have called it this time round lol.

Lots of ninja type sounds, grunting and shouting went on during our time on the bag that even I had to turn around a laugh to myself when Marv let out some craaazy noise (we are a crazy passionate bunch I tell ya).

After another breather and quick sip on my maca to aid with endurance it was time go through tech sets 11-16.

Technical Sets 11-16

These are the higher grade sets (purple onwards) and from the feedback given from  Sensei, tech set 12 was the one I need to spend a bit more time on.

My poor left shoulder blade took an absolute battering from Jo’s superb connection on the jumping roundhouse, even the guys in the group ooooo’d and aaaa’d at the sound.

Still, there was no time for pain, I had to simply suck it up and get on with it as you do.

The other technical sets were executed good, with minor things like my guard slipping and punch extensions coming up short.

On a few occassions my roundhouse kicks needed more of a turn from my hips to stop it looking like a front kick but apart from these small minor adjustments I feel have the technical sets down and am confident in my ability to pass my grading come March please god.

The session concluded with me and Jo going through our tech sets again, this time with the rest of the group sat around in a circle to give constructive criticism on each set we did.

It is clear from this session that I have a few minor things to work on over the next six weeks to ensure I am sharp and fighting fit going into my grading.

My Areas For Improvement

  • GUARD! GUARD! GUARD! I MUST keep my gloves glued to my face and retrieve my hand back once I throw a punch.
  • Fully Extend and pivot on Punches: In particular my crosses.
  • Parry:  Make them small and sharp
  • Ensure I turn into my roundhouse kick

Overall it was a really good, TOUGH and sweaty session. I was thankful that my pre prepared Organic Burst Maca and Baobab concoction teamed with my Plant Based Protein Sativa Strawberry and Banana Shake helped me through!

vegan-workout-drinks-organic-burst-maca-sativa-shakes-strawberry-banana

A Big Thank You to Jo for being my designated foot model to display the kickboxing logo in my above picture.

On a separate note, I am seriously toying with the idea to incorporate strength training or cross fit in the lead up to my 1st Dan grading so I can increase my overall strength and fitness but at the same time do not want to undertake a new discipline that could counteract with my speed and agility needed for kickboxing (ponders a little more).

Until next Sunday Ladies and Gents 🙂

  • Where abouts do you coach and how much ? Making me want to go back in the gym

    • Dani

      Hey Micah. Haha, glad my article has made you want to get back in the gym to spar. At the moment I teach / train under my Sensei in West London (Northwood and Harrow) and classes are either £10 per sesh, £35 p/m for attending any of the London classes once a week or £45 for unlimited access to all London classes. When I pass my Dan grading I’ll be looking to start my own classes closer to Central London so I can cater to those who maybe interested but reside in South / East London. I trust this answers your query?