Over the last year, the sport that has gotten most of my focus has been Muay Thai. It challenges new and different muscles and parts of my brain as compared to Highland Games. I love the problem solving aspect of the sport, and it really takes me back to the days of being a competitive fencer. I love the thrill and challenge of facing off against another individual trying to solve you, while you are doing the same. It feels like one of the purest forms of competition.

Lately things have been coming together well. I have been on a roll, and the skills are starting to come together better. I was promoted in class, and things are slowing down during drills and sparring. 

Thankfully, I had a frustrating sparring session today where nothing seemed to work. That makes me happy. Allow me to explain:

You will reach the point in any activity where you get over the initial "newbie" hump, and things start to flow more freely and make more sense. It's at this point you can fall into the complacency trap. Often times, you will feel so happy with your newfound level of skill that you are happy to just continually use your current tool kit to solve problems, and feel proud of all the tools as well.

A good, sound, defeat will snap you right out of all that. That's what I got today. My sparring partner was a level above me, and while we are similar weights, he is much shorter. Because of this, he is very used to dealing with longer, range-y strikers like me. 

The session wasn't what you would call an ass kicking; no pain delivered. But he had a defense and an answer for all my normal bag of tricks. He just shut me down. Nothing landed clean. I'm used to fighting shorter opponents, and my tools are kind of built around that. My general game plan is to punish them with straight shots from distance, until they get tired of it and come into me. That's where I use things like lead uppercuts, push kicks, shovel hooks to punish them for it. 
My partner today used distance much better than I am used to. I fenced at a decently high level for long enough that I am accustomed to managing distance well, but he wasn't having it! He would defend my longer shots, or just stay out of range, and then move just to the end of his own range to bait me for a counter.
The point, in case we've forgotten, is that I am thankful for the experience of a frustrating spar. It put me back in problem solving mode. It squashed the little seedling of pride before it took root. It made me re-evaluate my tools and think about building new ones. 
This is part of the cycle. The cycle we go through in anything, and everything. You cannot grow without challenge. When things always go smoothly, you get complacent and slowly weaken. Be thankful for adversity, big and small. Be thankful for daily difficulties that don't kill you or harm those you love. They are free motivation and inspiration.
If being older is nothing else, it's being able to get humiliated and walk away from it with a big smile.
October 02, 2018