Welcome back to my online diary documenting my very amateur experience training in Muay Thai. If you missed the first entry on Bloody Elbow, read it here.
Before we get started, someone asked where I did my training, so I should say this is all at Conviction Martial Arts on the north side of Chicago as part of Team Madiz under trainer Andre Madiz. If you're in Chicago and want to train, it's a great place.
A couple months after I started training, one of the other guys at the gym said to me that it takes some time, but eventually things will just click for you. Stay at it, and you'll find one day that your kicks are harder, your punches smoother, your defenses tighter. And I have to say, I think I've made it there.
That's not to say everything works perfectly for me - far from it. I still have a lot to work on (like those pesky switch kicks). But this week, things really felt... right. Two parts of training stuck out to me.
First, my kicks, particularly from the right. Last time, we worked a lot on coming up onto your toes when kicking, and this time out, I focused on that and felt a real difference in my power and technique. Keeping balance after the kick was easier (and that has always been a tough spot for me), as was maintaining power when throwing 4 sets of 20 kicks in quick succession. It's strange, because the idea of coming up onto your toes when kicking seems so unnatural, and yet getting that lift makes the kick come more naturally. Weird. This is also a technique I often see left behind. Thai fighters use it a lot, but it's not that often that I see an MMA fighter really get that lift in, perhaps because they fear that it opens them up to a takedown.
Second, our sparring for the day. We took a different approach, focusing more on a boxing style of sparring, with a lot of footwork and head and body evasion to slip punches. I loved this, as it really helped me focus on my footwork without thinking about checking kicks, or landing my own kicks. Which was a good thing for me as I am not the most naturally coordinated person (can't jump rope well at all, which Rocky always taught me is a must for footwork). But this was a great way to emphasize footwork. I felt my feet improving, and I look forward to working the kicks back in.
One particular note from this sparring - at one point I worked with a southpaw opponent. I've always been taught that when using opposite stances you gain an advantage by having your lead foot outside your opponent's (and I talked about this a bit in my last Judo Chop). But this was my first time really trying that myself, and it was incredible how easily putting that foot outside set up a quick flurry of jabs. The angle is only slightly different, but after that step outside it looked like my partner's face was wide open. It's a great experience to take something you understand works in theory and apply it in reality to achieve real results.
My question of the day: Footwork. How much do you notice footwork when watching a fight? And if you train, how do you train it?