I was fighting today, giving pointers. My mokuso for today was eyes - gan - and I tried to see holistically and peripherally. I tried to feel what was coming, but the thrill of battle - it's so easy to get swept up in it and give in to old (and bad) habits. Watching someone's fists...it's sounds stupid to even say...but so many of us do it. We did it when we were white belts and we do it now. The only difference is: I know better. Something to work on.
I was in front of this kid, a green belt, maybe 10 or 12 years old. He should have been in the kids class. Except for one thing. This kid had an amazing, instinctive, preternatural sense of the combative distance. He could sense ma-ai to within a half-step...perhaps even more precise than that. I'd circle and shift feet, I'd shift stance and step back. But the moment the distance shortened, even a little, he sensed it. Even when he had no frame of reference, even when I was circling trying to sneak up on him, he'd know. I've never seen anything like it.
You see people who can sense danger, and people who move back by instinct. But this kid only moved back hard the moment I was entering ma-ai. I told him how great it was and that when he feels that distance rather than move back he should strike. I came in hard thinking I had him. His fist came up into my jaw. I wasn't sure if I was ashamed or proud. It was surreal.
I could keep him off of me with range - or just overpower him in close. But between Toma and Chikama, this little kid was owning me. I couldn't tell him - I didn't want it to go to his head. But he could be something. This fat, goofy little kid. I love it.
I have so far to go. The only thing that gives me hope is that I'm learning from everyone.