Verbal sparring can be fun, but nothing beats physical sparring. In martial arts, boxing, etc., this is combat, usually for practice and the betterment of both parties. Some schools restrict sparring by gender. I think this is a huge mistake. Men who have always considered themselves non-sexist have remarked on the fundamental mental readjustment they went through after a satisfying bout with a woman (whoever may have won). It also does wonders for instilling all sorts of confidence in women and girls.

Even within one's own gender, you never quite think of someone the same way after you have fought them--it's a very intimate act. Your first time sparring is often very difficult. Either you are aggressive and want to just get out there and hit people--and you find out this does not work and results in being beaten thoroughly--or you have been taught to not hit a girl, not fight back against men, or simply never be violent. Overcoming this is too emotional for some people to go through with it, some people simple walk out at this point and never come back. For others, though, it can be a real epiphany.

I miss sparring.
Nothing compares to the purity and intensity of human combat. Our eyes locked on each other, reflexes pumped and twitching, ready to burst. All thought and memory vanish; my only world and purpose is to fight, to fight! It is an indescribable sensation. Only in battle can I understand what it really means to think of nothing, to live in the moment and act on pure instinct. Pain is no longer pain. It is viewed through a lens of objectivity and adrenaline, and serves only as a beacon that I have made a mistake. It is not until long after your fist solidly connects that I acknowledge the aching rib cage, the bruised muscle. In a fight, the mind switches gears and becomes completely animal and yet completely mechanical. All my eyes see are calculations of time, distance, possibility when my gaze flits across your face, your fists, your legs, your eyes. The shout that tears from my throat as I connect is nothing of human invention, but a primal display of power.

And in the shadow of this intimate violence everything else pales. The cinematic light from a screen, the words of a textbook, even the warm thoughts of love become weak, meaningless, and cold. It is in the urge to defeat my opponent that life is truly lived. I revert to my basic hunter's nature, and become one with the blood, the breath, the skin.. and the fight.

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