I have been training in MA for a little over a year now. Last week, for the first time, I felt that I have improved in skill. My school is relatively small, no more than twenty students. Being a bigger guy (6'3" 235 lbs) I always got paired up with the black belts, and on rare occasions, brown belts. As I progressed, the people I spar would hit a little harder and a little faster each time, but I never saw where I was improving. When my skill would increase, they would increase the intensity a little more, keeping it just one step above my level, so that it wouldn't appear to me that I was actually gaining in skill.
Last week, I got to spar with a student the same rank as myself. I was amazed that I had done so well in sparring him. I was able to see that he wasn't gaurding his stomach, but was more pleased when I actually got to hit it! In sparring the black belts, most of the time when I did get a good hit is because they let me. I have also just recently realized that my flexability and strength has increased dramatically since I have started. I know I still have a long way to go before even becoming "good", but I was happy to see that I have progressed.
My question, mostly to more experianced martial artists but for everyone, is this, Do you still feel this way from time to time? Do you feel good when you finally grasp a technique that previously has left you frustrated? How do you feel when your students realize they are getting better, despite that you have known all along?