I have never been timid when it comes to training and especially sparing. I enjoy it. The back and forth with another man, the resisting opponent, both trying to win. It is just fun. When I have gone up against guys who I know wanted to hurt me, or at least rough me up, I have always had the attitude of "Here I am. You don't have to look to find me. I am right here, not going anywhere." I have taken my ass kicking, and learned every time a blow landed.
I have sparred with profesional fighters of every combat sport. Boxers, kickboxers, and MMA fighters. I have danced with them all. I especially liked to spar with boxers. I always felt that I knew more than they did. I used more limbs than they did. I could always keep them off balance with a kick, a knee, the Thai Clinch. They were in my world, and I knew that I was better than they were there. All I needed to do was to stay away from punching range, use my jab and punches to get them to plant their lead leg, and blast away. Sure, I got tagged a few times. You can't dodge them all, but I always was able to clinch when they got too active and start slipping knees in to them.
I met a legitimate middleweight world champion today... His hands were so fast I could barely believe what I was witnessing. It is like watching a baseball pitcher throw the ball on TV. It looks fast but, you never really get the feeling for how fast the ball is moving until you are sitting behind the plate at a real game. You hear the slap of the ball hitting the mitt, and can almost feel the wind form the missile that has been launched, almost inhumanly from the arm of the colossus on the mound.
I had seen the lighter weight guys hit the pads on TV before, but I never ever realized how fast, and how hard they are throwing punches. Every time he hit the mitt it sounded like a rifle shot.
He went off to run, and I got a little time with the trainer. He showed me a few things and held the pads for me. It was fun but I knew I did not have nearly the speed of the champion who just left.
After a while I was given homework (head movement, always head movement. GRRRRRRRRRR) and my time was done.
"Hey guy." I hear. "Aren't you one of the kickboxers?" It was the champ.
"Yeah." I said.
"You want to go a few rounds? I want to see how I move against one of you guys." He replied.
I looked at him. I blinked.
"Brother",I said. "I have the utmost respect for you. I would love to work out with you, and learn from you. But there is no way I am ever going to spar you. The way your hands move, I would loose more brain cells in the first round than I ever wanted to think I had. I freely admit that after seeing you work just a little bit, I am more afraid of you than of any other man I have ever met."
He laughed, and asked if I would at least show him some of our "cool" kicks. I smiled and showed him a front kick and a round kick. We worked just a bit on the bag, then the trainer told him to quick fucking around and get in to the ring.
I think we left friends. I look forward to working with him in the future to improve my hand speed, and hopefully he will want to learn some more leg and clinch work. But I guarantee you, I will never willing get in to the ring with him. I like my noodle too much.