This week’s lesson came to me courtesy of trying to be a nice guy. Oh, this sounds like an enticing lead, doesn’t it? Well, before your imagination runs too far afoot let me stop you right there. Nothing really intriguing led me to this; rather, it was simply taking turns pad-holding and driving knees with a partner.
My partner was a young guy I’ve struck up a dojo friendship with over the past month or so. He’s a good guy but probably weighs half as much as me and is a good foot shorter. Pairing up for the exercise he expressed concern that I’d knock him through the back wall with my knee strikes as he held the pad but I assured him all would work out.
I was up first with my knee drives and my partner held the tombstone pad, expecting the worst. I drove a couple home and heard some grunts, leading me to tone down the power a tad. A minute or so later we changed sides and he was up. He drove knees into the pads relentlessly. Good power and focus; I was impressed. I was also getting quite a rib workout too, to my chagrin. My feelings weren’t hurt but it was then that I realized — as nothing stood between me and some high-powered knees but a vinyl covered firm foam pad, looking downward as drops of my perspiration were shaken to mat from my damp hair with each successive and violent impact — that there is no mercy in training.
What I learned is that we’re here to train and these exercises are as much for the pad holders benefit as the student performing the technique. I have to remember to put my all into it because, in most cases, I’m going to get whatever I’m giving when it comes my turn.
Sure you can’t take this to the extreme. There are some notable size differences between students for sure and putting someone on the Pain Train isn’t what I’m talking about here. In fact, one burly student took it upon himself to go full force with a much smaller female student and ended up sending her to her doctor with bruised ribs. What I am talking about, in general, is that there is no more holding back like that in training when it comes to intensity, no more punches being pulled. This isn’t ballet and we aren’t knitting hats; we’re learning self-defense and the gloves are off.