Saturday 21st March saw the return of one of the most challenging events in the TTA calendar, the Leeds sparing course. Those of us who attended last year enjoyed an intense six hour day of training punctuated by a short water break, and this year was just as rewarding.
Led by Grandmaster Loh, the day began with him separating those who had previously attended a sparring course from those who were there for their first time. This made for an interesting change to previous sparring courses as the course debutants spanned a range of grades, providing the opportunity for Grandmaster Loh to monitor them more closely while not segmenting the class by belt.
The first session started with us putting our hoguls on for a quick warm up, before practising a range of paired sparring drills aimed at improving our technique, dynamism and ability to respond to an opponent. There were also low kicking drills with those holding the target paddles sitting on the floor, allowing partners the chance to focus on technique and timing without worrying about height and power.
After a quick break Grandmaster Lok kicked off the second session with further partner drills, providing the opportunity for all attendees to train on the areas for improvement that had been identified in the first session. After approximately an hour the class formed groups of three, with each person taking turns to stand between their two partners and kick paddles on their left and then right in quick succession. After cycling through a number of different kicks we were quickly out of breath, with the drill teaching us the importance of maintaining good technique (and spirit) under testing conditions.
Now thoroughly exhausted, the day ended with a chance for us to put into practise everything we had learnt on the course with a round of free sparring. Cycling through the class and sparring with a number of opponents emphasised the importance of timing, distance and control, all things we had worked on throughout the day. Grandmaster Loh also stressed the need for assertiveness when responding to your partner.
We left the Leeds sparring course feeling we had achieved a lot in one day. The session was testing and illuminating for all grades, with plenty of food for thought for our ongoing training. Thanks go to Grandmaster Loh for his instruction and to TTA Leeds for organising another successful event.