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My Muay Thai Training Diary: Predictability In Sparring

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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.

On my way to the gym the other day, I thought about the fact that I had not had a chance to spar in the ring recently, and I missed it. I crossed my fingers that tonight would be the night to get back in the ring, and apparently through the power of positive thinking, I was there, selected to join the group sparring in the ring. Good deal! Except...

As it turned out, this group was made up of, by far, the best guys we train with. Good guys all, but ones I had never sparred with. I was excited for the opportunity, though a bit nervous. And as it turns out, those nerves were my undoing. There's no easy way to say this - I got my ass kicked. In a positive, sporting way, but still - it was not my finest hour.

Looking back, I see one major mistake: predictability.

In an effort to use my reach, I like to lead off my combos with a jab. But it quickly became apparent that I was not only leading every combo with that jab, I also wasn't always following it up with a combo, instead just throwing the jab and then falling back. My more experienced partners saw this easily, slipped the jab, and came back with heavy counters including a lot of leg kicks that left me hurting the next day. And what did I do? Learn from my mistake and try something else? No, I kept up the jab. And I kept being punished for it.

Disheartening? Yes, but a good experience overall. Stepping up and working with those who are a level above you is the only way to improve, and I'm glad I had the chance. Even if I failed to make the adjustments at that time, I can learn from the experience and make them now.

So, as I get ready for today's training I have a plan - in warm-ups and bagwork, no lead jab. I figure if I am over-relying on it, then it's a habit I need to break. Once I break it, then I can go back to using it, but it has to be one of my options, not my only option. So we'll try out some new combos today. Which means today might not be pretty, but if it helps in the long-run, my battered legs will thank me for it.

Question(s) of the day: What's your favorite combo - either to throw yourself, or to watch? Hopefully it doesn't start with a jab, because I need some new ones to add to my repertoire.

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.