Whether it’s for sparring or drills, being paired with a partner significantly larger than you can be a rather intimidating and challenging situation. Being smaller or bigger than your sparring partner has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. And deep down inside, we martial artists know that challenges can be conquered as long as we focus on technique and strategy, instead of strength.
Today, Evolve Daily gives you 5 Tips When Sparring Muay Thai With A Larger Opponent:
1) Stay calm
Unless you’re a seasoned fighter, chances are, you’ll find yourself feeling really tense and intimidated when facing a larger sparring partner. Learning to stay calm is the most important thing you need during sparring regardless of whether you’re facing a larger opponent or not. Resist the fear of sparring someone bigger and obviously stronger than you are, breathe, and relax; this will allow you to defend comfortably, execute techniques more efficiently, and be less fatigued.
2) Focus on technique
When taking on a larger opponent in sparring, it’s extremely important to accept that you’re going to lose out in the strength department. The sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you’ll start using your mind and technique instead of trying to out-muscle your opponent as you would a regular sparring partner.
Although Muay Thai is famous for its power and deadly effectiveness, the art was built on the concept of using technique to overcome strength. So when it comes to sparring someone larger, focus on executing your techniques perfectly. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself outscoring your opponent because you’re not relying on reckless strength!
3) Master the range
Larger opponents are most likely going to have a significant reach advantage over you, so it’s more important for you to master the range needed for you to strike and also stay safe. So instead of standing in your usual range, be cautious and start off further. From this wider, safer range, use techniques that measure distance like teeps (push kicks) and jabs.
These techniques will not only help you master range, but are also great defensive tools to keep your opponents at bay. However, remember that for all this to be effective, you must stay calm and be patient. Keep in mind that tip #4 on this list will also enhance your ability to master range.
4) Footwork and constant movement
As the smaller sparring partner, speed and constant movement are going to be your biggest advantages. If you’ve watched super fights pitting smaller opponents against much bigger opponents, you’ll notice that the smaller fighter always starts off by moving strategically around the ring.
Doing so will allow you to stay in a safe range and also provide angles that open up good opportunities to hit and get out fast. Be smart, don’t take risks, strike when you can and get back out of range of your opponent’s attacks. And of course, don’t forget to keep moving!
5) Work on countering
Once you’ve mastered tip #1 through #4, start working on countering. Not every successful fighter is known to be a counter fighter, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on it. Constant movement and staying in range will allow you to see a lot of attacks coming. Start off by defending and avoiding these attacks.
Once you’ve built up the confidence to defend them, start building your attacks around them. These could mean anything from countering with punches and kicks on open areas, to catching kicks and executing sweeps or counter kicks and combinations. Remember, once you’ve performed a successful counterattack, reset back into safe range and remain calm.
Remember; never treat sparring as you would an actual fight. It is a platform for you to improve, not just with your technique, but mentally as well. And there’s no better way to conquer your mind and emotions than with a larger sparring partner. So don’t be afraid, you’ve got nothing to lose!