Muay Thai is a great self-defense skill, it could be a lifesaver. You’ll come across lots of milestones on the journey. Sometimes it could be scary, and sometimes you would feel like a superhuman. But if you want to experience the real Muay Thai, you have to spar.
Sparring could look scary for beginners. Especially if it’s your first time. But it’s not what it looks like. Use the tips below and you’ll have a good sparring session.
One of the best sparring tips for beginners is to take approval from your master. Your instructor understands your level of training. He/she knows if you’re ready for sparring.
Sparring could be dangerous, it can cause serious injury. So always consult your trainer before you get inside the sparring ring. Now if you’re only training for a cardio workout or to stay fit, you don’t need sparring. But if you want to test your skills and fighting techniques, sparring is the only way.
Here are 10 Muay Thai beginner’s tips for sparring
1. Prepare Yourself
For any situation, preparation is a great way to start. You never know what’s coming, so preparing yourself for the worse will keep you on the safe side.
Sparring is a game, you never know the true potential of your opponent. It’s best practice to prepare yourself mentally and physically.
You might be training for years but don’t even think of entering the ring without proper equipment. It could be dangerous and fatal. Use recommended and best muay thai gloves, shin guards, headgear, mouth guard, groin protection, elbow, and knee pads.
The best way to prepare yourself is to research. Do quick research or ask your trainer? Research for the recommended gear to use. Ask your fellow trainees for tips and suggestions. Discuss with your training mates.
2. Relax – It’s a Game
Sparring is just another training session. Don’t be nervous. Take a deep breath and relax. The more relaxed you’re the better you’ll understand your opponent’s techniques.
Don’t make your muscles stiff. Keep it loose as if you were hitting the punching bag. And take a deep breath when you take a step back. Don’t get caught up in the intensity of sparring. Being relaxed will keep your focus.
Be sharp but don’t forget to relax. Relax your movement and focus on your opponent’s moves to make the strike. When you relax it gets easy to understand your opponent’s moves and to try different techniques.
3. Plan Your Strategy
Having a strategy is the best way to win any game in life. Planning gives you the right direction to follow. There’s a beautiful quote by Brian Tracy on planning:
“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”
Every martial art is a mind game, and so is Muay Thai. If you don’t have a strategy you’ll not use all the Muay Thai techniques. Plan your moves, strategies your techniques. Decide in advance whether you’ll play defense or strike.
Your strategy might not work every time. But once you understand the moves of your opponent you can change your strategy. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the feel of a Muay Thai fight experience.
4. Fight to Learn Not to Win
Don’t fight to win the game, fight to learn the techniques. The more you use the moves and techniques the better you become at Muay Thai.
Use different throw combinations. Use your legs, your hands, and all the eight core elements of Muay Thai. It’s all about experimenting. The opponent might beat you up and you lose the game. But winning or losing is not the question here. It’s about how much experience you gather.
It’s about how many moves did you make? How many techniques did you experience first hand? As a beginner, keep aside the competitive mindset and focus on getting the real-life experience of Muay Thai.
Muay Thai is all about techniques. And sparring is all about using the technique as mentioned in the above point.
As a beginner, you should use as many techniques as possible. Try to use every possible technique that you learn. The combination of fists, elbows, knees, and feet gives MuayThai eight-core fighting elements.
Sparring as a beginner you should try all the core elements. If you’re thinking of entering the UFC, you won’t get a chance to think about which technique to use inside the ring. Sparring is the best training session to learn each Muay Thai technique.
Think of you as Tony Jaa and try using the combination of all the techniques.
6. Play Defense
Muay Thai is one of the best martial art that teaches you how to defend. It teaches you lots of self-defense techniques. If you’re sparring as a beginner you should play defense. We are’t saying you should completely give up striking. Your primary sparring strategy should be defense.
Before you strike you should learn to defend. When you get good at defending you can start learning strike. Without learning proper defense technique your opponents have a good chance of knocking you down.
Getting good at defending will keep you safe and you get the chance to strike your opponents. Some good defending techniques to start with are block kicks, block punches, check kick and parry punches.
If your opponent is playing defense adopt the defense and strike strategy.
7. Face Your Opponent
For beginners, sparring could be intimidating. If you haven’t got into a fight in your lifetime, you’re sure to be nervous and scared. But remember why you enrolled for Muay Thai before you back out.
Sparring is the best time to prove yourself. You don’t have to prove the world but you got to prove your inner self. Whatever may be the consequences don’t back off. You’re a Muay Thai martial artist and sparring is where you show your skills.
Face your opponent, get out of your comfort zone and make the first strike. Get inside your opponent’s comfort zone, don’t be afraid to get punch or kick. Winning or losing doesn’t matter, what matters is how you face your opponent and how well you play.
8. Understand the Pattern
Every Muay Thai fighter has his unique style though they get the same type of training. When you’re inside the sparring ring, look for the pattern. Try to understand the type of technique they are using.
Use your first round fight to analyze the combination your opponent is throwing at you. Once you understand their pattern, it gets easier for you to defend and strike.
Muay Thai fighters have sharp brains and quick thinking ability. Don’t assume your opponent to be weak. They’ll also be analyzing your throw and techniques. The best thing you can do in such a situation is to change your techniques often. The more you change your style the more they stay confused.
9. Leave Your Ego Behind
Remember you’re not on a battlefield facing your enemies. Sparring is a training session to test your learning skills. Your opponent could be your friend or student from the same training center. There are no rules that you have to be aggressive. You should keep your ego aside and respect the opponent.
You should have a sportsmanship attitude. Follow the rules and don’t get aggressive. Ego is one reason why there is so much chaos in the world. Ditch your ego and enjoy the sparring. It’s a learning process, you should not let ego come your way.
Don’t try to show your anger if you get hit. That’s the part of the game. After the fight, shake hands and forget about it. Take the best experience from the game, not the ego.
10. Enjoy and Have Fun
The last and most important tip is to have fun!
Enjoy the process, don’t take it to heart. Be proud of yourself that you have the guts to spar. Not all Muay Thai trainees have the guts to spar.
Remember the reason why you’re sparring, to get better at Muay Thai. Don’t get caught in your ego. Enjoy your time in the ring and appreciate the fact that you’re one step closer to becoming a professional Muay Thai martial artist.
Sparring is a great learning process to level up your Muay Thai skills. You get better the more you spar. Always be friendly with your opponents. And keep your smile on your face.
Sparring not only improves your Muay Thai skills but it also gives control over your body. With sparring, you get the chance to learn in practice.
There are lots of fighting techniques to use while sparring. But the 10 techniques mentioned above are some of the basic techniques both beginner and intermediate can use.
Remember sparring is a game and a learning process. Don’t be sad if you lose. Be happy that you have the guts to participate in sparring.