“The combatant should be alive in sparring, throwing punches and kicks from all angles, and should not be a co-operative robot. Like water, sparring should be formless. Pour water into a cup, it becomes part of the cup. Pour it into a bottle; it becomes part of the bottle. Try to kick or punch it, it is resilient; clutch it and it will yield without hesitation. In fact, it will escape as pressure is being applied to it. How true it is that nothingness cannot be confined. The softest thing cannot be snapped.”
– Bruce Lee
Getting nervous about sparring for the first time?
Make sure to read my 10 Muay Thai sparring tips for beginners – A checklist for your first spar!
Way too often I see fighters go into sparring sessions without any sort of strategy. Most fighters just step into sparring without any tactics, strategies or game plan of any kind…. don’t be that guy (or girl)!
Muay thai sparring is where you should be perfecting your muay thai techniques. Sparring is where you need to be focusing on the areas of your fight game that need improvement. For instance, try to concentrate on improving your weak kicks or your loopy punches instead of resorting to your stronger techniques to win a round of sparring… it won’t do you much good in the long run.
Before you step into the ring to spar, get an idea for what muay thai techniques and tactics you want to improve and work on. Every round you should try to work on something different and gradually put them together towards the end. Here are some of the game plans, tactics and strategies I use for my muay thai sparring sessions:
Those are just a handful of the muay thai sparring strategies I implement in my training. So next time you are sparring, just ask yourself…
What am I trying to accomplish in this round of sparring?
When you are sparring…
You should not be fighting like it’s a championship fight.
You should not be trying to kill your sparring partner.
You should not worry about impressing other guys/girls at the gym.
Here’s a piece of advice if you do any of those – stop being a dick.
Muay thai sparring isn’t the place to show your macho side by trying to demoralize and humiliate whoever you are sparring. You won’t learn anything by always pushing the pace and trying to knock your sparring partner out. If you are truly better than whoever you are sparring, then implement certain game plans or work on your weaker techniques to polish your entire fight game!
On the flip side, if you are getting your ass handed to you in a sparring session, just move past it and take whatever positives you can from the experience.
Everyone has a rough day in the ring/cage and in the end it will make you tougher (mentally and physically) and more resilient if you learn from those mistakes. Don’t let a bad muay thai sparring session drag you down or get you mad. Next time you spar, be aware of your past mistakes from previous sparring sessions and work on those mistakes in the current sparring session!
There should always be something you can improve in your muay thai training. Never be complacent.
When you spar…
Be confident enough where you don’t have to show off to training partners, coaches or friends, but be humble enough to know that there is always someone out there better than you and you should be working hard everyday to improve.
Let your ego go and I guarantee you will see major improvement in your muay thai training immediately.
You should be asking questions about every single aspect of your muay thai training, especially sparring.
Getting a different point of view can help you be aware of the holes in your game that you need to fill. Don’t take criticism personally, use it as fuel to become better next time you step into the ring to spar.
Here are some good questions to ask either your sparring partner, instructors or other muay thai training partners;
The more questions you ask the more you will learn, it’s that simple.
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