Tips for sparring for beginners
Intro to sparring – when you know you are ready
If you are new to training or are just building your confidence in your abilities then it won’t be long until you begin sparring. There a many ways in which sparring can benefit your training regime and also many ways in ways it can hinder your training too.
There are many things that you can do to put your training into practice and sparring is one that you will probably come across once you have worked on quite a few techniques. Your trainer will know when you are ready to go ahead with a spar. On one hand they need to know that you are going to be able to hold your own while getting hit, defending and also clinchwork too.
You don’t want to rush into sparring, it might be worth training for a couple of months at least two or three times a week before you are ready. So you have enough time to work on your full game, get your stance and footwork down and also have had the opportunity to work on your striking and defence.
If there is one thing that someone must do when starting out is relax. I remember when I first started, I was nervous, which then meant I was tense. I tired really quickly and my whole persona was rigid and not fluid. Paying attention to the other people in the gym while they were also sparring it quickly became clear that relaxing was a huge part of getting better.
The more relaxed you are, the more time you have to think about what you are doing because you aren’t thinking about being tense and exerting loads of energy unnecessarily.
There are many ways in which sparring can benefit your training as it gives your opportunity to work on what you have been working on in your training sessions and also what you have been mentally working on in your head too. It also and possibly most importantly, let you get hit and get a feel for what it is like to hit and get hit.
Here are a few things that you should think about while sparring and some things that might be able to work in your favour while training:
- Controlling your breathing is imperative to keeping calm and relaxed, if you can control your breathing then you can keep yourself in a mental state of relaxation.
- Having a game plan means that you can work on something in particular during the session. Whether that be a certain technique you have been working on in the class or a new something that you have been working on in your shadow boxing.
- Don’t have an ego. If you have an ego in your sessions you will quickly find yourself in a position that you don’t want to be in. You don’t want to be hitting too hard all the time. There is a time and a place to spar hard, this is something that you have to be well aware of.
- Finding the right partner can play a massive part of your development. If you find someone of a similar experience, height and weight then you are onto a winner because you can push yourselves the right amount with no need to go too hard too fast.
The best type of sparring is definitely the light and controlled type. Giving you a perfect place to practice your technique, catching kicks, sweeping, covering, slipping, kicking, getting the knee in, working on your hands and also working on your footwork too. Moving and evading. There was a video that went viral a few months back of two Thai brothers sparring and they got it perfectly.
Obviously it is fun to get bloody while having a spar but there is a time and a place for that really. You don’t want to go hard all the time while training because, if you are eventually wanting to get into fighting then you have to think about the damage you are doing yourself by sparring hard all the time. Think about it. Light and technical is far more beneficial than just going all out trying to kill each other in the ring!
Below is a video from Muay Thai PROS and it touches on what it means to spar lightly and have the chance to use your techniques. Notice how they both use all aspects of the Muay Thai game.