Sparring With Other People – What am i doing wrong?

Invariably, I get told to do the following by people when im sparring / training with others:

  • Don’t use all your strength
  • Relax more
  • Don’t hit so hard
  • Watch what I’m doing

I do my absolute best to listen to this vague feedback, and keep it toned down as best I can.
Last week though, I could swear I was being hazed. Because people would tell me these things, but they wouldn’t heed their own advice. I didn’t question it. I just took it. I don’t care if they hit me a little harder.
I don’t know why they do, or if they know they are… but I also don’t care much. It just seems a little silly. But what do I know, I’m not them.

The people who give me the most grief about it, are women, and little people. Not just little women. But women, and little people. I’ve noted also that the two women who have given me the most grief, are skilled, but at the same time, pretentious.
Regardless of any kind of elitist behavior, I listen to everyone’s feedback and try to hear the wisdom behind their words.
I ask them to show me what they mean. To demonstrate. To teach. Sure they may be irritated with me, or not like me for whatever reason, but that is none of my concern. I want to learn and get better. I’ll take it however I can get it. Everyone can teach me something, if I’m open to learning.

So what am I doing wrong?
I need to understand that so I can have a better synergy with training partners.

Here’s an example that seems to be a prolific happening:

I’m told to tone it down in some manner or another.
I do so.
Perhaps we are clinching, and It’s my turn to get inside their defense.
My partner fights, stiffens up, doesn’t let me in. I keep it gentle, and as such am unable to penetrate.
I am a cool breeze on a castle gate.
I try a couple more things, and then up my aggression to just beneath their level of aggressive defense. They up their defense, and I get no where.
Then they tell me to relax some more.
I am lost at this point.
I ask to be shown what they mean.
They show me.
It’s complete nonsense in the face of what just occurred, as I am doing a loose breakable defense vs the stiff unyielding defense they exhibited.

I think I am starting to have feelings of … what are they? I recognize them…
Lemme think.

Oh… yeah.
I FEEL like i’m being made out to be the asshole. The big huge guy who is too brutish.
Like, borderline bully stuff.
I know I can’t go full-benjamin in sparring and partnering. I know this, and I don’t.

I almost laugh when someone says “Don’t use all your strength.” I almost laugh, but I almost kind of stare blankly at them as well.

Ok so that brings up an interesting point that I need to ask more experienced coaches about. Like Nat, and Ryan. Nat because he’s a fucking boss. Ryan because he’s also a boss, but he’s also well over 200#, so hopefully he has some insights that smaller coaches can’t understand.

What I mean is, for instance, each one of my legs weighs probably… 70 pounds. Even tossing that gently at someone is… harsh.
Full force looks more like this:

newtons of force for kick

Ok so even cutting that down to 1/10th of that speed to 8 meters per second squared, is still over 300 newtons. Which is just shy of hitting someone with a baseball bat.

I’m sure the same is similar when I am gently tapping someone accidentally with an elbow, for instance. Except no padding.
At least gloves and shin pads add a layer of dispersion of force on my partner. 😐

I don’t know.
I feel like an asshole.
Like, I don’t know my own strength… literally. So I sit here calculating my strength in newtons. Seriously. Ugh.

So hopefully the coaches can give me some MEANINGFUL feedback that will help me.
Because even bigger dudes are like ‘more relaxed benjamin’, and i’m like uh… you damn near dazed me 10 seconds ago chief.

I need a solution, because i’m getting entirely too frustrated, and it makes me want to do something extreme like, only take private lessons, and train on my own so i don’t hurt anyone on accident because i’m too big, too strong, and too new. 😐
I can’t afford that answer, so I hope there is a better one.
Otherwise why pay 250 bucks a month to go to as many classes as I want, if I don’t go because I’m afraid of hurting people, or dealing with whiney people.
If it’s just whiners, ok. But I don’t think it’s just whining.



Yeah. I’m tearing up, trying not to cry. I don’t want to be seen as the big brutish idiot who doesn’t know what’s going on.

I’ve hurt one persons toe: he was kicking, I was kicking… i caught his toe. He was pissed at me the rest of the night.
I accidentally ‘elbowed’ someone trying to scoop in over her stiff armed guard: She was playing an unrealistic game of stiff arming my neck in the clinch during a pickle in the middle drill. Like… really? She knows i’m supposed to go easy, so i’m letting her stiff arm me, and keep me at a distance. So I try to sweep in over the top and scoop her arm away. She deflects, which causes my elbow to hit her.
She throws a very small fit, and I feel like a fucking piece of garbage. So for the next / last 10 minutes of the pickle in the middle, till the end of class, I tried not to cry, and made NO attempt to gain any kind of control.

Part of me pouted. I was like “Fine. I’ll just stand here defensively, and show you what it’s like when I’m not allowing you to move me, but I’m also not going to try and move you.” No one could move me of course. But I also didn’t accidentally hurt anyone. I also didn’t learn anything. It was pointless.
Class was over, I apologized again sincerely, and got the fuck out of there so no one would see me all teary eyed.

I hate hurting people.

Another time, some guy punches me in the side of the head so hard, I am dazed. 30 seconds later, i get an inside kick to his thigh, and he tells me not to kick so hard.
I don’t know what to do at that point, so I just let him kind of punch and kick me and I work on my defense.

I fear getting a reputation as an ogre who stomps through training partners indiscriminately, cause that’s not me.


Anyway. I feel terrible. Seriously.
I need to find a way to fit into this set of mini-sub-cultures at the Academy.
Most of the people there are NOT as intense as I am. For sure there are a good many that are dedicated as hell. Lots of blue and purple belts. That’s 1 to 1.5 years right?

I think the only way I’m going to REALLY improve, is to do some REAL sparring, and see where my actual weaknesses, and strengths lie. However, I know even a smaller person would fuck me up right now in a Muay Thai fight. My defense is atrocious.

I’m patient, I swear lol.
I just am not sure what to do right now. Can’t wait to get good advice.


One thought on “Sparring With Other People – What am i doing wrong?

  1. I spoke to Coach Nat, and Coach Ryan.
    At the same time. Which was convenient.
    They both had good advice, and from completely different perspectives of size, remarkably, they had the same advice.

    Basically it was:

    You’re a big dude, when we first saw you in sparring we were concerned to make sure you stayed loose, and such.
    Ryan said that once he told me to loosen up, he saw that I did, and that I constantly made efforts to continue to do so, and he didn’t worry about me.
    Coach Nat said something similar. He says that he sees me sparring, and drilling, and he also doesn’t have any concerns.

    They both said, that some people are just pussies and need to learn how to take a hit. They are in MUAY THAI… it’s the most brutal martial art sport, and it’s filled with consequences. Though at the same time, a lot of people aren’t doing this to actually fight…
    I am though.

    As for me addressing my size, and weight of a kick or punch or what have you… they said that yeah, its a lot even a small hit can be a lot, but it’s not gonna devastate anyone, and THEY need to loosen up too. They’ve seen me and they think i’m for the most part too gentle.

    They also said, a LOT of people are gonna look at me and think “That’s a big dude, he’s gonna hurt me”. There’s nothing I can do about that. They’ll just have to get used to me.

    They recommended finding some good sparring partners over time that will help build up my speed (speed = execution of skill) but for now to concentrate more on defense, and technique, and just wait for the right people to show up essentially.

    As far as me fearing i may be building a reputation of a big dumb brute who isn’t safe to spar with: They said “You’re not. And you won’t. Just being this aware and concerned proves that.”
    Fair point.

    In recap:
    * I’m doing fine, don’t sweat it
    * If someone whines or complains, just continue to do what I’m doing. Ask them how to adjust for their comfort.
    * Continuously strive to NOT muscle a move. (i have been calling myself out on that a lot… it’s hard not to) (i have stopped sparring a couple times and asked if something I did would have worked were I the same size as the other person… invariably, no… it wouldn’t. So yeah, I cheated. lol)
    * I train with Ryan and now Steve (first time for steve last night) frequently, 2 times a week right now. Both are motivated, and non-whiners. They are good to come up with in the ‘ranks’ so to speak. We all were in Foundations together and started CAP at the same time (combat athlete program : aka, actual martial arts)
    * I’m a big dude, some people (a lot, as it has been in my normal life too) will make pre-judgements, and it won’t be in my favor. Nothing I can do about that.


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