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My Muay Thai Training Diary: Kick! Circle!

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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.

Last time here, I talked about a rough day of sparring and working on some issues of predictability. As always, the community here was full of helpful tips, many of which I applied this week when I stepped back into the ring to spar, and I have to say - it helped.

The #1 lesson I have taken away from these last two weeks is that I need to do a better job incorporating kicks into my combos. I have a tough time flowing from punches to kicks within a combo, and I think it's that issue more than anything else that is leading to my predictability. As I continue to work on my range, kicks just aren't nearly as natural to me. I'm also not perfect on my balance, so feel somewhat exposed when kicking. But I can complain and make excuses all I want - they key is to fix it. This week, I started really focusing on punch/kick combos in both bag work and shadowboxing, and plan to keep that my primary focus when doing drills. I think it will make a real positive impact.

Also this week, I had a chance to spend a big chunk of time with just my sparring partner and one of the trainers, and it was tremendously helpful. A few of his miscellaneous tips that I walk away with:

  • For a leg kick, a great set-up is a quick hop to the outside, lining my lead foot up with my opponent's lead foot.
  • End a combo with either a jab or a kick - one of your strikes with the longest range so as to allow yourself to avoid the counter.
  • Move. Keep circling. If I stand dead center and trade, I don't yet have the power to keep up, and I'll lose. Use my movement to create angles and utilize my reach.
  • Keep the lead left hand forward and active and use it more to block incoming shots.
  • When jabbing, use my left arm and right hand to help protect my chin.
  • Seriously, circle a LOT more.

Relatively simple tips all, but very, very helpful. True, it's more material to keep in my head, but as I did bagwork afterwards, I had a moment of feeling all of these things coming together without thinking. I got out of my head, let the combos flow, and trusted in my technique. And it felt great. Yes, it only lasted briefly, but it was a helpful glimpse of where I am headed, and was a good reminder of how far I've come.

Question: What's the one tip you most love to give to someone sparring, or the one tip that best helped you when sparring?

I train Muay Thai under Andre Madiz at Conviction Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL. If you are in the Chicago area, come join us, and be sure to say hello.