In January 2011, I embarked on a little journey: I decided to start training Muay Thai. Nothing too serious - no trips to Thailand here - just a few training sessions a week. The goals were simple. First, get in better shape. Second, gain a greater understanding of the sport I love. I wasn't at Bloody Elbow at the time, but I did record my experiences in an online training diary. You can read the first entry here. I stopped writing that diary some months ago, but didn't stop training, and I figure now is a good time to bring it back.
So we're now 8 months into training, and I'm pleased with how things have progressed. My kicks are stronger and faster, my punches come with correct technique, and my conditioning keeps improving. But if there's one thing that continues to annoy me, it's that pesky left switch kick. Maybe it's a balance thing, but this kick eludes me. I can land a nice inside leg kick with the left, but when I switch and throw the left low kick, it just doesn't feel right. And when I throw 10 fast ones in a row... it's just no good.
But this is a minor hurdle, and one I will keep working at. In the meantime, we've begun sparring on a more regular basis, and let me just say - it's a joy. Nothing helps the feeling of really learning what you're doing quite like seeing how a technique works against an opponent. So, how is my sparring so far? A mixed bag, for sure.
-Checking kicks. When I first sparred my instinct was to block low kicks with my hands, which is a terrible idea. I've moved past that now, and check them well.
-Kicking combos. I think I'm stringing kicks together nicely, and connect with the leg kick regularly.
-Body shots. Love them. More people should use them. A nice cross to the body is a tough blow to block, as it forces your opponent to drop his hands, leaving his head exposed. You're also less likely to be hit when throwing this punch and lowering your base, as people just don't train to hit you at this lower level.
-Punches to the head. Have a hard time finding my range, and the good technique I show when throwing a hook to the bag or pad just flies out the window when it's an actual person.
-Defending when getting punched in the head. Still have that tendency to kind of cover up and sort of run away, which is... lame. Must get past that.
Still a lot to learn, but the sparring is a great experience, and helping me feel the improvements. It's also prompted a question I haven't previously considered: do I want to actually try my hand at an amateur competition at some point?
Question for those of you who have been here yourself - when did you make the jump from training to competition?
More to come next week.