As you progress in your Muay Thai journey, you’ll experience many exciting milestones. One of these will be the first time you touch gloves with your training partner, showing your readiness to spar.
For many beginners, sparring might sound a touch intimidating because they have no idea what to expect. In fact, many students might choose to avoid sparring altogether. Unfortunately, if they want to get the full Muay Thai experience, sparring is a must.
All those hours spent warming up, jumping rope, doing drills on the bags and pads are merely a precursor to the essence of Muay Thai, which is combat fighting using all 8 limbs. This makes sparring the closest possible thing to the application of everything you’ve learned as a Muay Thai student.
Are you ready to spar? Today, Evolve Daily shares 5 Sparring Tips For Every Muay Thai Student:
1) Work on your defense
As fun as it is to keep on working on your offense, working on your defense is also very important. Not only will it teach you to evade your opponent’s attacks, but it also teaches you how to react quickly.
To read more about working on your defense in Muay Thai, check this article out!
Tip: In your next spar, focus on checking kicks, parrying punches and countering your opponent instead of attacking. Keep a safe range from your opponent and remember to always stay calm!
2) Leave your ego behind
Muay Thai is always a two-way street. The odds of you getting hit during sparring are just as high as you hitting your opponent. Unfortunately, some students forget this and feel as if they are too good to get punched or kicked by their opponents. This attitude is never healthy, especially if you want to get better at Muay Thai.
The more you get hit in Muay Thai, the faster you learn how to defend yourself, making you a better fighter. Thus, by being humble and accepting defeat every once in awhile, you’ll reach your Muay Thai goals faster than you realize!
Tip: The fastest way to test your ego is to spar with someone smaller and more technical than you. There’s nothing more ego crushing than getting beaten by someone who isn’t 6 feet tall!
3) Use technique, not strength
Unless you’re preparing for a fight, sparring with 100% strength is never a good idea. As a beginner, you should always start slow and not try to KO your opponent. Doing so will help you refine your technique (another reason why you should spar) instead of focusing on merely strength.
You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve if you go light in your next sparing session. Remember, sparring is a learning tool, not a chance to beat up your teammates!
Tip: The more advanced a student is, the less likely he or she will spar using 100% strength. Before you start sparring, watch the advanced students and adapt their pace.
4) Keep it simple
If your name isn’t Saenchai or Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, it’s safe to say that you should leave the cartwheel kicks, flying knees and elbows off the mats during sparring.
Instead, focus your energy on working on your fundamentals – the jab, cross, hook, knee, roundhouse kick, and push kick. The better you are at the basics, the easier it will be for you to adapt to more advanced techniques.
Tip: Pick three techniques you’d like to master and focus on them on your next spar. Once you feel you’ve mastered those three techniques, feel free to add more variation.
5) Enjoy yourself!
This is probably the most important tip of all. It shouldn’t matter if you win or lose in sparring – sparring isn’t a competition, it’s a chance to improve your Muay Thai. Don’t get caught up in your ego and just let everything go. Remember your purpose and respect your opponent. He or she is there to learn and get better at Muay Thai too!
If you feel like your spars are getting too intense, tell your partner. Take a deep breath and remember to focus on your technique and slow down your pace. The more intense and aggravated you are, it reflects on your entire demeanor and game. Smile and sabai sabai!
Tip: If you find yourself faced with a particularly aggressive training partner and you have no choice but to go 100% with him or her, then match their pace. Afterwards, ask them if you could spar again, but more lightly. Chances are, they’ll feel bad about the way they reacted and won’t do it again.
Remember, sparring is a great learning tool that will take your Muay Thai to the next level. It will prepare you for competitions and develop your reflexes more than hitting the pads or bags ever will. There’s no doubt that practicing some of the tips we’ve suggested will help you become a better Muay Thai practitioner.
So tell us, which of these tips will you try out today?