6 things to improve your sparring
It doesn’t matter whether it’s Muay Thai, Boxing or MMA – sparring is the heart and soul of every martial art, and we believe that every martial artist should try it at some point.
Whenever you spar, you’re improving your technique and complementing all those hours of training, running and drills. What’s more, you’ll get a much clearer idea of timing and distance, while acquiring the necessary skills for a real fight.
Pakorn sparring with Saenchai (How it should look like)
Are you ready to get the most out of every sparring session?
The 6 things:
1) Always have a goal
Without a game plan, your sparring session would not be productive. This is because you wouldn’t know what you specifically want to focus on and achieve.
If you’re a beginner and aren’t sure what areas to work on, feel free to ask your Kru’s (instructors) for advice… and then use that advice to figure out what you want to achieve. Is it to keep your hands up at all times? To get specific techniques right? Think about it before and during any sparring session.
When it’s over, talk to your sparring partners and Kru’s to find out what you did well, and learn about the areas you can improve on. You can then develop a game plan based on their feedback, and ultimately work on getting better.
2) Don’t worry about winning or losing
One of the most important things to remember in Muay Thai is that there are no winners or losers in sparring. So you don’t have to go all out and try to kill your partner! The purpose of sparring is to deepen your knowledge of Muay Thai and ultimately become a better fighter – not to deliver a knockout punch, or take their head off!
Also, it helps to leave your ego behind and not worry about how you look during sparring. Yes, this includes the times when you have to tap out or end up getting hit more than you’re hitting. In fact, those are the moments that actually help you to learn and grow in the sport faster.
3) Keep calm, relax and breathe
We understand that when you start sparring, it can be pretty nerve wrecking and overwhelming because you just don’t know how to handle the situation. Unfortunately, this might cause you to tense up. However, when you don’t relax and breathe while sparring, you’ll slow down your reaction time and this would affect your performance.
Sparring in a tense state would also cause you to move clumsily, and this would definitely hinder your strikes and your defence. Once you learn to relax while sparring, you’ll notice that your movements are much more controlled and fluid.
4) Be creative, and try new combinations
When you start sparring, you should focus on getting all your basics right before progressing to more advanced techniques. However, that doesn’t mean you should keep striking with the same combination. Instead, why not mix and match your basics to form new and your own combinations?
Apart from keeping your partner guessing, mixing it up would help you to be able to execute various combinations and think on your feet. Hence, you’ll learn to adapt to all kinds of situations and become more unpredictable while sparring.
5) Don’t be afraid to spar with different people
While it might be scary to spar with people you’ve never sparred with before, it’s totally worth it. When you change sparring partners, you’re actually enabling yourself to respond, adapt, and react to a variety of fighting types and styles.
Also, you’ll learn much more from people who are at a higher level – so don’t be afraid to pair up with them. In fact, you should seize the opportunity and step out of your comfort zone. After all, facing your fears and overcoming them would help make you stronger.
6) Have fun!
All of us at Chao Phraya believe that this is the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re sparring. After all, sparring should be a fun way for you to learn how to use the techniques you learned in class and elevate your game.
At the end of the day, it’s important to always ‘respect’ your sparring partner and not treat him or her as a human punching bag… because you’re all there for the same reason: to learn, grow, and become a better martial artist. So train hard, and make every sparring session count!