You never really think about what’s happening during the fight. You only react. Coach has done his best to drill possible responses in you until it’s all automatic. If your opponent kicks high, take the blow in the shoulder while countering low. If he kicks low, take the blow on a forearm while countering high.
Leo came out of his bounce with a kick off his rear leg. I shifted and let it glance off my shoulder, throwing my foot up and inside his guard. He brought his knee up and into my extension, dropping a fist into my chest at the same time. I stumbled back into a defensive stance and aimed a foot at his head, making him lean back. I switched feet and connected with his midsection. He staggered.
“You all right?” I asked, never leaving my attack stance, only backing off a foot to leave him room to either re-group or bow-out. He re-grouped.
“Yeah. It was just a good point is all.” He dropped back into his attack stance, legs a little bit closer in this time, ready to go high. Like I expected, the kick comes at head height. I slide to my left, moving into attack position. Leo’s left foot slams into my chest, knocking me to the ground. I scramble to my feet and back into the proper stance, trying not to let surprise show on my face. But Leo knows that he got me completely unaware. He felt it.
We circled for a few moments, each making feints, testing the other, looking for that perfect opening. Leo drops his front hand, inviting me in for a sucker’s bet. I throw a front kick in with my right foot. He closes, thinking I’ve taken the bait and I swing my left foot around in a jumping kick that catches Leo high on the side of his head. He retreats and gives me the nod, acknowleging my point and begins circling again.
Coach leans in and says, “Next Point Wins.”
Leo closes at double speed, throwing kick after kick and moving with a speed I can’t match. I fall back, waiting for him to slip and leave me an opening to exploit. He rushes in and I retreat, spinning and throwing a back kick. A donkey kick Leo calls it. I catch him in the eye but his right front kick catches me in the chest at the same time. I feel my ribs explode in pain and Coach steps in and says, “No point. You’re both done.”
Leo and I shake hands, then, wrapping our arms around each others shoulders, we exit the square.
“I think you cracked my rib.” I say.
“You gave me a black eye.” He says back.
“Definately,” I say and grin.