When it comes to sparring how do you react? Does it make you excited? Or does it give you some chills throughout your spine - in other words does it trigger fear and anxiety?
For a very long time I have believed that if I suck at sparring and if I am afraid of being hit and simply not being good that it means that I can just hang my boxing gloves up and leave the gym. Quit and never come back to training. Why? Because my belief-based reasoning was that I thought that sparring is the A and O of martial arts. I have made it more that what it is. I have kind of made martial arts all about sparring.
When I would spar I'd usually go through some initial fear and anxiety because I'd have all these thoughts and images run rampant throughout my mind and head. You know, stuff like being hit, breaking my nose, bleeding, getting paralyzed, injuring a body part beyond repair and so on.
When small pieces start building big structures
Now the snowball starts forming: Such thoughts and me not dealing with them and understanding them and transcending them, or in other words finding ways, methods, applications and solutions to them would now hinder my performance - anything from rhythm to coordination to awareness in general in and during and throughout the sparring session itself.
If I perform ill according to my own inner self-assessment on how I did in sparring I'd start rolling a bigger snowball: Adding emotions of depression, desperation, self-judgement, self-anger and so on to it.
Eventually, I’d want to give up. I’d want to just quit and not come back to the gym and continue my martial arts training anymore because 'man I sucked and didn't feel like I won and performed well in my sparring sessions'. Funny and primitive when I look back at it now. Why? Because I wanted to throw away something (martial arts training) that was and is giving me so many positive and supportive benefits in my life both from a physical and mental/self perspective and dimension just because I wasn't performing well in ONE subset of the training: Sparring.
Maybe it’s NOT ALL THAT!
Yes. ONE subset of the WHOLE of martial arts. I've learned that sparring is but one part of the training. There are so many other parts of it and to it: Flexibility, power, strength, speed, coordination, tactic, strategic analysis, practical analysis, self-awareness, character building, relationship and friendship building, getting to know myself and my body and my mind more and better, getting to know how I function better, discovering what thoughts and reactions I tend to habitually go to and give in to when I face certain challenges or instances like feeling tired and exhausted or challenged with an exercise or movement. Now you can see why I find it ridiculous now that I wanted to throw all of that away and give up on it just because I was performing ill, or not to my expectation and belief of how I should perform or desire to perform within sparring.
The learned lesson
To extract the lesson from this: Investigate where you have made something a bigger deal than what it is. Where have we made something, which is actually just a part of subset of the whole - where have me made that part the whole itself or more than the whole? To not give up on something completely just because we aren't good at a subset of it. But, rather to list and revise all the benefits and support it give us in so many other ways in helping us build our self to become better at and in living life daily.