With some people, there is always an initial reservation against sparring. No matter how much shadow fighting you do (shadow fighting is nothing but mock sparring or jiyu-kumite, which you do alone in front of the mirror or on the heavy-bag so as to improve your fighting technique for an actual sparring session), sparring with a live partner makes the difference. Your image in the mirror simply reflects what you do, but it doesn't hit back with force. What one needs is the feel of a real fight.
My Senpai is one tough chap who hits with a force enough to knock the air out of your lungs and impair your thighs with his shin kicks. But if you can last a 3-minute round with him, you know you have the condition and spirit to go for tournament fights.
I spend my after-class time conditioning my thighs and my abs, so that I can take it and still stand up for the rest of the fight. It's never easy, but if you want to make a difference, you have to take that step and walk that extra mile. It's grueling but rewarding.
Injuries in karate are a common thing altogether. The pain teaches you that getting something is not as easy as it looks. Seeing videos of Kyokushin fighters knocking down each other is one thing, and actually being able to knock down one on your own is another. Heck, I haven't even managed to kick someone in the head or the thighs enough to inflict a good crushing pain. It takes years of practice to master the art, but as I had said earlier in one of my blogs, there is never an end to the journey.
Getting injured in every class does dampen one's spirits sometimes. A few days back, I hurt my toeballs while trying to block my opponent's kicks, and the pain was so bad that I came home wanting to smash everything in my way, feeling frustrated that I was too weak to take anything. But then, it takes a short while to subdue your anger and return to normal again. And the next day, I'm back on the jogging track and then at the gym, pulling weights and stretching away and foreseeing a better-built person than the one I already am.
I am shedding my inhibitions against sparring, and I engage in sparring sessions with a classmate who happens to be well-built, being a gym-instructor that he is. We look at each-other's mistakes and learn from them. We hit hard, though I get hit back harder than he does :P
It always pays to walk that extra mile against your body's reaction. Karate, as I had said before, is more of training your mind than your body, because the body follows the mind wherever the latter leads it. Take the shot, and keep no regrets for not having done so. That's bushido, the way of the warrior!