It was a great class yesterday morning. We worked on olympic sparring technique only and it was great. It's hard, it's confusing and it required all of my mental and physical focus but it was so great. Then, we sparred for the last 5 minutes. I caught 2 decent kicks to the solar plexus, lost a little breath and then panicked. My throat started closing up and I realized that while I was fine physically, mentally I was freaked and just that realization caused the panic to worsen. I couldn't breathe. The more I thought about the fact that I couldn't breathe, the worse the constriction in my throat became. My breath became a whistle as I paced the studio, trying to regain control.
'Ki-hap loud!' the master commanded. And I did. A ki-hap that started from the tips of my toes and blasted out the top of my head. I instantly felt better but the panic was back within an instant. I did another ki-hap. And another. And another. Each one loud and raw. I heard someone say wow. One more and finally, finally I was able to get control of my breathing. I let the Master know that I was ok. He called me over to face my partner, ordered us to fighting stance, and I waited for him to say 'begin' but he didn't. He let us stand there, facing each other, ready to fight, and then he said stop. We came to attention, bowed and shook hands. He just wanted to make sure I'd come back to fight.
In that moment, I wasn't really sure what triggered it. It was like the panic that I experienced the first time I sparred, times 100. I mean, I know it's fear but I don't know what specific fear it is. I've been playing it over and over in my head. I think it was because I was frustrated that I wasn't sparring well, that I hadn't internalized the new technique that I just learned, that I seemed to have forgotten all the technique I had learned to date.
Master strongly urged me to go to sparring class last night. Push through the panic. He doesn't want me to quit and after the morning's episode, I'm sure he thought it was a possibility. I have no intention of quitting, though. There is just too much that I love about it to let one bad day of sparring get to me.
I went to the sparring class and didn't have any panic episodes. On the other hand, I did have moments of thinking I was going to throw up and/or pass out but that was just from sheer exertion, not panic. I got kicked in the head and punched a lot but I never panicked and I never got knocked down. I also realized that I'm still relying far too heavily on my round house kick and not doing nearly enough combinations. I really need to give myself a break though. It's only been 10 months and I've already progressed very quickly. I need to relax, I know. And breathe.
Today though, I tested for my blue belt, which was awesome, and I drove home feeling proud and confident and exhausted. And one belt closer to black.