My Muay Thai Training Diary: Sparring

Welcome back to my online diary documenting my very amateur experience training in Muay Thai. If you missed the previous entries on Bloody Elbow, read them here.

This week, I am proud to say I reached a new milestone in my training. For the first time, I sparred in an actual ring.

The ring is a new addition to our facility, and it's pretty nice, providing a very different experience in the sparring. We still weren't having full on sparring matches, as there would be two pairs sparring in the ring at a time, but I was surprised at the way the ring did have an impact on my game.

First up, the grip is very different from our normal mats. The canvas on the ring just feels better on the foot, making me feel more comfortable on my feet. I found that pivoting on my lead leg while throwing a kick was a lot easier.

Second, there's using the ring to your advantage. Perhaps it comes from just having watched an awful lot of Muay Thai and MMA, but this was something I immediately identified as a key difference. Many times I was able to trap my partner in the corner and connect on him, while at the same time keeping myself out of the corner and away from the ropes. But it wasn't perfect. I realized afterwards that my big mistake was in my movement, as I tended to move in and out in straight lines - forward and backward. My goal for this week is to work on coming in from the side, and to circle away from my opponent's power hand. Against an opponent in orthodox stance, that will take me to my right, and that's going to be a tough change. My tendency is to start a lot of combos with the jab, which means stepping in with my left. I also stay light on the left foot, lifting the left leg to check often. Both of those moves cause me to drift left, into the power side. So it will be a tough change, but I think will benefit me in both making my combos a bit less predictable, while also protecting me from power shots. Hopefully we will spar tonight and I'll be able to report back how that went.

Last thing to work on - stop dropping my hand to catch leg kicks. When I first started sparring, this was a bad habit. I worked past it, but when sparring with my coach last time, I kept bringing the hand down instead of checking the kicks. No good at all, and not sure why that came back after I thought it was out of my system.

This week's question: anyone else out there a taller fighter? I'm 6'4", and try to use my height and reach to my advantage. It generally works, but causes trouble when working drills where I duck and slip a hook. Still a good skill to develop, or as a tall fighter, is this just a bad way for me to avoid hooks?

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