Sparring is, what you could call, the heart of Muay Thai. Those who choose NOT to spar miss out a lot on what Muay Thai truly is, and that’s hand-to-hand combat. Sure, you can spend countless hours doing drills, on your skip rope, running, hitting the bags or pads and so on and so forth. But, for you to be better in Muay Thai, you have to find a way to apply your art and the best way to do so, outside of a real match that is, is through sparring sessions.
Sparring, though, isn’t easy. It could be likened to a dance between two people, which means that it requires synergy, understanding and most important of all, lots of effort.
If you’re struggling to find your footing during sparring sessions, or simply just want to know if there’s something you can do better, here are a few tips that should help you improve ASAP.
- Stay calm and focused. Your focus in training is to practice your combos, and not to know the other guy out. Sure, some people may want to put you on the floor, but you shouldn’t share the same thinking. Rather, it’s best that you try to set an example by staying calm and controlling your power. This way, you’ll be able to focus more on improving your timing, stance, defense, etc.
- Keep things simple. Mastery of all the basic skills and simple combinations is what separates the elite fighters from the good ones. If you want to be one of the greatest fighters ever, or simply want to be better than your competition, then it’s best to stick with the basics. Only when you’ve learned and mastered them should you even think about playing with all the crazy maneuvers.
- Split things up. Talk to your sparring partner/s and try to come to an agreement that you’ll both be focusing on specific things in each session. This way, you’ll have far fewer variables to think of, while also allowing you to make minor adjustments and tweaks to a specific skill. A good way to do this is to suggest sparring with only your legs, or your hands, or focusing on clinching, or even going as far as combining clinching with boxing.
- Set a goal. Sparring sessions are usually done at half speed to prevent injuries. But, experienced fighters do spar as if they’re in a real match. This allows them to get used to the high-pressure and stressful environment that the real things have. If your goal is to fight someone in the ring, then it’s best to try and improve quickly so you can find a sparring partner that can go toe to toe with you. Other goals that you can set is to try and improve a certain combination, or try to outdo yourself by timing how long you’ll last during sessionsbefore gasping for air.
Remember, in sparring, communication is key. If you and your partner aren’t on the same page, chances are, you’ll both end up hurting each other. Even if both of you do manage to escape unscathed, there’s just not much improvement to be seen when you spar that way.
That said, be sure to talk with your partner and find a middle-ground between what the both of you want to achieve during each session.
Also, don’t forget to have fun!