So you have finally gone from learning the fundamentals of each Muay Thai technique and the next stop– sparring. Applying what you have learned against an opponent, albeit only some sort of a practice, will not only hone skills but also to see how you can effectively apply technique on speed, distance and stability. To get you started, here are some Muay Thai sparring tips for beginners to keep you off broken ribs or a bloody nose.
- First things first, it is important that you got your Muay Thai kru or instructor’s back. Sparring sessions done without permission usually end up in disaster. Your Kru will have the last say on when you will be ready to do a mock fight with another novice. If he said “no,” you are most probably not ready yet. Keep in mind that this professionals know precisely when you are ready– or not.
- With your instructor’s approval, the next thing to do is to reassess your current Muay Thai gear and see what you’ll need. Like any other boxing discipline, Muay Thai sparring sessions require special set of equipment to make beginners learn more without succumbing to injuries. You will need a 16oz boxing gloves like the Rdx Sports Boxing Gloves Rex F12 below, a stand-up type shin guards, comfy protective headgear, groin protection with steel cup, elbow and knee pads, and mouth guard. You will also need handwraps to add more power to each blow.
- Don’t forget to wear specially made Thai boxing shorts with compression undershorts like the one below from Diamond MMA. Unlike other shorts, Muay Thai fighters wear shorts that are a little flared at the bottom and have tighter, wider comfort band on top. This is to give more breathing room for the thigh and kicking legs. Compression shorts, on the other hand, help protect a fighter’s groin.
- A little reminder before you start: sparring is no competition. There will be no referee to keep tabs of the points scored. Your Kru will most probably spar you with someone experienced in sparring sessions to look at your weak spots and hopefully, for you to push your prowess to the limits. Sparring sessions are supposed to be opportunities for learning. Even if you’ve shown astounding talent that you were able to subdue a more experienced sparring partner for the first time, do remember to be humble.
- With the schedule for your sparring session set a day or two in advance, consider doing meditative mindsetting. Muay Thai is not all brute force. It is also about focus, of being mentally quick and aware of your surroundings. Remember that a focused mind is a quick mind.
- One of the most important Muay Thai sparring tips for beginners on the “d-day” itself is to be more observant of how an opponent move. Get a feel on techniques used by your opponent and fight back with what you’ve learned from your training. Don’t rush anything. This is not the day for you to prove something. It is, however, the perfect moment for you to learn the proper way to hit as well as evade being hit.
- Think diverse tactics in you strikes and combinations. From punches to knees and clinches, and kicks, mixing them up allow you to improve not just power and stamina but also timing in the long run. Also, try to steer clear of single punches and kicks. The more you broaden your techniques, the more you will lean to make good use of those 8 limbs.
- Don’t forget the essence of countering a strike. No matter how experienced a sparring partner is, he or she will always leave an opening after throwing combinations. So, learn to strike back to amp the challenge. You would not want to be berated by letting him hit you anyway he wants, wouldn’t you?
- It’s normal to be nervous before a spar, but do something about it! Going all jittery and tensed will only curtail your moves. Learn breathing technique usually taught by your Kru. The more relaxed you are, the less restraints you put upon yourself and the more dynamically powerful will be your strike. Yes, it’s less draining, too.
There is so much to learn in Muay Thai sparring sessions. Don’t let your first foray ruin succeeding ones. Another important yet often forgotten Muay Thai sparring tips for beginners is this– enjoy it! There’s no sense being too uptight for a sparring session. Build camaraderie with other fighters and you will end up learning more in the process.