Last night we had a combined TKD/Isshinryu class. Today we skipped class and had a pool party instead.
The combined class was interesting, as always. Master Bertrand, the dojo owner and head TKD instructor, taught the first half, and Sensei Rodeghier (my sensei) taught the second half. For the first half we did some one-step sparring (which confused several of our people, because it's not something we do), and then went from there into self-defense techniques. For some reason I've been practicing defense against choke holds for a week now. Every class, it's choke holds. I'm feeling fairly confident that I have a good set of options for dealing with them now, ranging from the merely controlling to the outright lethal (though obviously we can't practice the latter full out). I need to practice some more to have them well locked in - but not this week, my neck is getting awfully sore!
The second half class was sparring. When everything shook out (I.e. the people not sparring stepped out) we had about equal numbers TKD and karate for kumite. So Sensei matched us up TKD vs. Isshinryu, not for scorekeeping, but just to mix up partners, since both groups get very used to fighting the same people over and over again.
As the last time we held a combined class, I was struck by a couple of things. One - these people throw beautiful kicks - high, strong, and fast. Two - they can't aim for shit. Their senior blackbelts are dangerous, but the lower belts, and sometimes even the shodans, just don't have good aim. Outside of the blackbelts, the hardest I've ever been kicked in a mixed class was by a guy who was fighting someone next to me! He threw a spinning back kick without spotting for his target and nailed me in the small of the back, while I was sparring somebody else altogether. My opponent last night threw a lot of wonderful kicks but I don't think he connected more than twice, neither time solidly.
I always feel weird at the combined classes. I enjoy them a lot, and go when I can, but I feel a little like a fraud because I'm milking them for what I can learn (which is a good deal, just to be clear), while really not respecting their teaching methods very much. The teachers themselves I respect. They clearly love their style, and they have a ton of knowledge. It's just that somehow it's translating into students that with very few exceptions are sloppy in critical ways.