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.
At the end of a recent sparring session, my instructor had an interesting and helpful thought to share - remember, Muay Thai sparring is not just about the offense, it's also about the defense.
I know, this sounds obvious, right? But thinking about it, I realized that it's an important lesson to remember, and an easy one to forget. In training, it's so much easier to focus yourself on offense. Bag work, pad work, drills - they all tend to be more offense based. Getting comfortable with your offensive technique is absolutely a good thing, but it can't come at the expense of defense.
I've now come to the point where I am decently confident in my strikes. A lot of the motions are coming naturally to me, which is great, and I'm seeing the result in sparring, as I am able to put together better combinations and connect more. That's a great thing. The bad side is that I am getting caught more myself - again, I'm neglecting defense.
I also see this pattern in plenty of professional fights. When I really study fighters, particularly in MMA, I see so many who neglect the fundamentals of defense, letting their hands drop often and not staying tight defensively, instead, focusing solely on offense.
My belief is that this is something that, with some focus, I can fix, and relatively easily. My plan for now is to work defensive moves into all my combos when doing bagwork. When sparring, my goal (again, just for now) is not to land on my partner, but to prevent him from landing on me. With those goals in the front of my mind, I'm feeling more defense-oriented and confident.
That said, I do have a bit of worry when it comes to defense, and that's reaction time. I've never been great at quick reactions - hitting a baseball is not a fun activity for me to try. As I see it, the toughest part of defense for me will be reading what my opponent is throwing, then quickly responding with the appropriate block. But like all things, that should come with time and practice.
So for now, I'll put that worry out of my mind, tuck my head, keep those hands tight to the chin and those elbows in, and get ready to block.
Question of the week: Any tips for improving defense? What has worked best for you?
Video of the week (in the full article): A couple counters for the leg teep here. I like how the second one perfectly sets you up to come back with a kick of your own, but man you better not mess it up and get teeped right in your bent knee, as that has blown out knee written all over it.