This week we have welcomed two new students to our dojo: Zoltan and his son Norbet. And, in proper Kyokushin spirit, by the end of the night we had all beat the hell out of each other!
Now, let me pause a moment and tell you a bit about Zoltan. He is big. Maybe 6’4” and weighs 270lb and, I came to learn later, reached blue belt in Kyokushin back in his home country of Hungary. So right after our warm up, when my instructor paired me up with him for sparring, I began to formulate my brilliant strategy of bobbing, weaving, and juking out of the way of his strikes all while delivering my own devastating counter attacks. Then we’re told that we are to only spar within the space of one puzzle mat effectively killing my perfect strategy. “Best laid plans of mice and men”, right?
Ok, so I have to brawl with a man almost literally twice my weight inside the dimensions of a phone booth. That’s cool, I can deal with it. And so it began. Right off the bat I noticed that Zoltan had a habit of throwing long left-jabs (which hit about as hard as my right-cross) and leaning in at the waist to make up for his enormous height. I took advantage of this by throwing in a uchi mawashi geri (crescent kick) and stopping just before impact to the side of his skull. He stopped leaning forward, though, at least for a while. After that, it was basically a slug-fest: block, slam, block, slam, block, slam, slam, slam.
Toward the end of class we all sparred again. When I was paired up with Zolton again we were at least able to make use of the dojo space and could employ a bit of footwork. Here I learned that while he is pudgy and hasn’t trained on a few years, when you’re as tall as he is you don’t need to be that flexible to kick a man like me (5’9”) in the head. Fortunately I judged our distance correctly and his foot only met air, or that would have been the end of my sparring for the night!
Later I fought his son, Norbet. Norbet is a young kid of maybe 12(?). He’s quick, eager, and shows great potential. Though, given our size and experience difference, he is easily intimidated and dominated in sparring – even my opening kiai seemed to shake him. I decided, on the outset, to focus my attacks on his head since he had the habit of keeping his hands around his stomach and chest (to block in coming punches). Like his father, though, I didn’t connect with my kicks when I aimed for his head – no sense in KO-ing a young newbie his first time in the ring.
What I liked about fighting Norbet was his unorthodoxy. He threw the craziest stuff at me including and elbow ram I recognized from Mortal Kombat. I had to warn him, though, to stop putting his tongue between his teeth lest someone kick him and make him bite it off. He also had a habit of leaving his fist out after a good strike, a la Bruce Lee, which is a great way to get thrown. Still, the sheer joy on his face during kumite and his eagerness as he asked our senpai, “Are we going to spar again?” was invigorating and refreshing.
New students are always a mystery. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. I feel good about these two additions, though. Both Norbet and his father Zoltan appear to be very friendly people; quick to smile and earnest in their training. I think they’re going to fit in very well here.