Sweat and dipped foam. I know, many of you are asking yourself "what could he possibly mean?!" Follow along.
I've been, in some shape or form, in martial arts since I had the balance to stand on one leg and kick with the other; best estimate age three...I have a cute picture to prove it :). When I left home, and essentially my dad's Tae Kwon Do school, I had to find some way to keep that edge. Enrolling in another martial arts school was out of the question. My dad will always be the only person that I acknowledge as my teacher in the arts, besides; I didn't feel like paying the exorbitant fees most martial art schools charge. I was left with one option: move my furniture to give myself enough space to kick it in my own apartment, know what I mean?
That's how I've kept myself honed in the martial arts with the lack of a gym to train in. Just recently I begin training while wearing my sparring gear. Why would I wear sparring gear with no opponent to square off to? - Excellent question. Most tournaments I've attended over the years require you to wear some type of protective gear, for the safety of yourself and the other competitor. There can be an agreement between the two fighters to omit the sparring gear; otherwise hand, foot, and head gear are required. If you want to become a better runner, you run. If you want to become a better swimmer, you swim. If you want to become a better tournament fighter, you fight...in the same environment you would as if in an actual tournament ring. Hot, muggy, sweaty, loud, and in full protective gear.
You'd be surprised how different your kick mechanics are when wearing foam dipped foot pads; it changes everything. The way you pivot on your support leg, the feel of your foot slicing threw the air, your eye-to-foot coordination. In order to keep myself semi competition ready, I train in the same conditions I would expect from a tournament ring. I turn my air conditioner off and open the windows up, allowing the hot, muggy air to pour in. I blast my music to simulate the roar of the crowd, much to my neighbors' torment I'm sure. I don my martial art pants, a black Under Armor muscle shirt, my black belt, and my full set of black Century sparring gear. It's stifling, smells like foam and sweat, and boisterous. I love it.
Hmm. Writing this makes me want to suit up and go kick it! - Know what I mean?