I circled to my right continuously, a consequence of my being a southpaw. It fucks with whomever I am fighting, takes some getting used to; I'm rotating in the same direction they are. I know that if I keep outside of his lead leg, I can keep pumping a jab in there and remain relatively safe.
This is bare-knuckle fighting, though, and I'm still not used to catching shots in the face, so I'm hesitant to square up and really bang out. We're not trying to hurt each other, especially with face shots... but inevitably one of us slips, or ducks into a hard punch meant for the ribs. My nose hurt for a week after the last workout.
Eventually he will shoot on my knees, and, even though I try to outmuslce him before we go to the ground, his techniques are far better than mine. In the end we are on the ground in a tangled mess of limbs, and my arm stretches across my neck until something feels like it's breaking.
I tap out when the pain becomes too much. Grappling is first on the list to learn. Karate teaches strikes, elbows, cheap shots... but not a damn thing off your feet... and I hate losing all the time when it goes to the ground.
I have figured out that it doesn't really matter who wins. I spend three days a week learning how to hurt people. It's becoming instinct to react to a fist coming at me, to be able to think clearly for a second before it hits. My ear is showing a few signs of abuse, my jaw clicks a bit. The callouses on my knuckles are becoming like little pebbles glued to my hands.
For those hours, it's just you and the guy hitting you. No girlfriends, no bullshit, no cops, no drinking, no anger, no bitterness. Just you and your mind, trying to outwit the guy across from you. Keep your jaw closed. Left hand up. Left hand up. Duck. Counter with a hook. Shoot.
People think that this crap is hard to do, to keep your head in the game, to not get shook up when you get smacked. It isn't easy, per se... but compared with the other shit that life throws at you, I can deal with my legs feeling like dried up rubber bands pulled to tight, or that someone's poured gasoline down my throat and lit my lungs on fire. It's a whole lot simpler.