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My Muay Thai Training Diary: What To Improve 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.

It's been almost a year and a half since I started this journey, and this week marked for me a bit of a personal milestone. For the first time, I really felt like I was not "the new guy." Things clicked, everything worked as I wanted it to, and I thought to myself "I'm not terrible at this!" Which is a pretty great feeling. That's not to say I'm some sort of fantastic fighter at this point - far from it. But I felt truly comfortable in a way I haven't yet, which was quite welcome.

This comfort came in sparring this week. Had an excellent sparring session where I was able to, at times, stop thinking and just let myself fight. Walking away from it, I can see how fighters become addicted to the feeling.

Of course, I have no desire to just sit around and pat myself on the back. That gets nothing done in the long run. So I got a few pointers from my instructors, thought through things myself, and came up with this checklist of things to focus on next time I spar:

  1. Use my reach. This has always been a goal of mine, and I am using it somewhat, but still need to do more. Jabs and teeps, and a lot of them. Don't be predictable, but use that reach to keep my opponent outside always.
  2. Keep the hands up when I kick. I wasn't even realizing I was doing this until I got hit a few times. When working pads, I am careful to keep my hands up on the kick, but apparently in the moment of sparring, they drop down, leaving me wide open. No good, and needs to be fixed. My plan here is just to drill kicks, and a lot of them.
  3. Be more confident. That's the biggest advice my instructor left me with. And I get what he means completely. One of my issues right now is not delivering my strikes with power when sparring. I'm still not sure how hard to throw a punch to the head or a teep to the body when sparring. I want to establish control with those strikes, but also don't want to be the jerk in sparring who is going too hard. It's a fine balance, and at the moment, I'm being overly cautious and light. Need to work on stepping that up, but not so far.

There are other things, but those are the big three. Many thanks to those I worked with who helped me focus on these - it can't be overstated how helpful it is to work with the right group in sparring and training, and the team at Conviction is great.

Question for the week: When sparring, how do you best judge the level to go at?

Video of the week: I'm adding a new little feature here, highlighting the fantastic "Muay Thai Minute" YouTube series. It's a great series of quick clips highlighting proper Muay Thai techniques, just 1 minute(ish) each. Very cool stuff, and every week I'll feature one. This week, a simple but great teep fake that I am absolutely stealing for next time. Watch the video in the full entry.

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.