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Women training with men

Posted Sep 14 2009 9:56am
We have a grading session coming up in July and several people from my class will be grading, including me. So last night Sensei decided to put us all through our paces by assigning us to our grade groups and taking each group through their entire syllabus.

My syllabus for 3rd kyu includes: a striking combination, a kicking combination, 3 katas, a striking combination against a pad, a kicking combination against a pad, demonstrate two defence techniques against a mawashigeri and finally 2 rounds of free sparring.

I would normally pair up with another woman to do partner work, irrespective of grade differences, but as we were in grade groups and the other purple belts are all men I had to partner a man. This made for quite an interesting experience.

With the pad work the men can clearly strike and kick the pad with more power than the women. A year ago I would have found it difficult holding the pad for a man because I found the shock wave you feel going through your body with each strike difficult to tolerate. Last night it wasn't a problem - I must be toughening up!

I also did the self-defence techniques with the men. Here I had to contend with making my techniques work against their greater height and weight. One technique I do involves catching the leg as the kick comes in, elbow strike into the ribs, grab them on the shoulder and sweep the standing leg from under them. I've practiced this many times with female partners and have got the technique to work. But against the taller, heavier men I found it really difficult to grab the shoulder as it seemed so high up and sweeping the leg was much harder - their extra weight seemed to root them to the ground more securely. I think I need to give them a push to unbalance them a bit more first.

But this was a great lesson in how you have to vary the technique to make it work against a variety of opponents. I think we should partner the men more often because firstly it will toughen us up (they show no mercy!), and secondly it makes us work harder to get our techniques to work.

This was a great energetic session that left us all feeling on a high. Roll on the grading...
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