Perhaps the most frustrating part of sparring for me right now is my inability to commit certain techniques. I throw something like a roundhouse, front snap kick, or back fist strike, and it ends up coming short of the distance needed to score a point. At times, my body feels like it has a governer on it, restricting my attacks. Even when I tell myself that I need to get in, get the point and just tap the persons abdomen with a good solid (but non-excessive) front snap kick, my body does otherwise. Its really just as well I talk to someone else’s leg.
Initially I did what most arrogant folks would do by rationalizing it as someone else’s fault: I blamed it on the class (not the instructor, the students). Many people in our club are ill-prepared to receive even a moderate kick to the stomach. In sparring, you tap someone a little hard and they get very defensive and begin holding back, which doesn’t help you much. You all know what I’m talking about?
But its not about the class. There are plenty of people in my class who are willing and anxious to spar with me, able to deal a kick, and able to take one, even one that’s a little too hard but they don’t mind because I’m just a lowly shodan trying to figure his limbs out. Just last week I was sparring with someone who was kicking me solidly in the abs while we alternated kicking back and forth. I, on the other hand, was unable to kick them squarely in the abs even though I know they welcomed it. Why?
I’m starting to think it boils down to confidence. I can punch people without hesitation. I’ve often scored with a punch but still that governer takes over when I try to kick. So now its narrowed down to kicks. A lack of confidence in my kicks means I’m concerned: concerned I might break my own toes if I don’t curl them back, concerned I might break the other persons ribs if I roundhouse too hard, concerned I might strike them in the midsection with a poorly aimed front snap kick.
Its completely a mental block, but a mental block I can’t seem to shake. It keeps me thinking too much during a sparring match and gets me frustrated during a class when I can’t kick the way I know I could if there were a board and not a person there.
Beyond buying a large punching back and practicing distancing and accuracy, what can be done for this? How does one get past the self-conciousness of poorly aimed or poorly timed kicks?