When Manu has us training for fights, he'll generally have us do about 6-8x 3 minute rounds of sparring twice a week, plus the sparring we do at the end of class 3 times a week.
Khun Kao, are you a Thai? I don't know why my coach doesn't emphasise sparring more, he used to fight pro, so he should know the importance of sparring. I was hesitant to ask him to let me spar because I'm very new to his gym and I'm not yet totally familiar with all the "tools".
In my MMA class under a different coach, I was sparring in the 3rd lesson if I remember correctly. Most of my insights and learning were a result of getting hit or dominated during sparring, which led me to seek answers.
Several guys from my gym fought in a recent tournament. From what I heard (I didn't attend) the guys fighting in the amateur category didn't do very well, 4 lost and only 1 won.
2 entered the pro category, 1 win and 1 loss. Perhaps we need more sparring!
Have a question about sparring. What should a beginner be thinking about when sparring?
Here're the things I'm thinking about, pls give me pointers:
Most of the time I'm thinking of keeping my distance, and launching attacks (jabs) once the person is within range if I take one step. I've learnt that if I let him get too close, I can't extend my punches fully to cover my face with my shoulder, which leaves me open to hits, especially if my reach is longer than my partner.
I try not to think about defense too much as that will make me edgy and fearful, instead I try to look for targets I can hit on my opponent, or think of setting him up so he exposes targets.
I'm also trying to circle to his weak side to launch attacks.
I'm also consciously trying not to move backwards when pressed, but move off to the side.
I also remind myself to pull my punches back fast (any excercises to perfect his?) and cover my face with my shoulder when punching.
Will it be better to focus on sparring as a "bottom up" activity - i.e. get the combos, techniques down first and try to dominate the punch/kick exchanges before thinking strategy...
or should I be approaching it from a "top down" way - i.e. understanding overall strategy before the mastering the punch/kick exchanges?
My gut says bottom up...
Thanks for any tips/pointers. It's better to ask here, because it's kinda hard to talk to my coach in class as there're so many people and we have to leave once our class is over since the next class is coming in...
"Have a question about sparring. What should a beginner be thinking about when sparring?"
In my opinion:
For starters, I would say relaxation. It is extremely difficult for beginners to learn much when they are tense and over-excited in the ring. In addition, a relaxed sparring partner is a lot more beneficial then a spazz, most nights. A relaxed sparring partner also helps reduce the chance of injury, which is the biggest drawback of sparring. Help your partner out!
In order to work on both of these, I would have my students begin sparring with me, and we would would roleplay. I would start by telling them that I am going to jab only, and they are only to defend. I throw intentioned jabs at about 50% on target. In the beginning, most will attempt to parry the jabs without moving their feet. At 50% with intentioned (read: not quite telegraphed, but certainly not sneaky) jabs this is a possibility. I then pick up the pace slightly, and start doubling up on jabs. Suddenly, they realize that parrying may not be the be all and end all of defense, and start to move their feet. If I am real lucky, I get a student that starts to move their head as well. Once in awhile, I would get a student who would start to do all three things well.
I would do this for 2-4 rounds, and then discuss with the student what they were doing wrong verbally, and then demonstrate physically. Then suggest corrections, and then try to apply them for another few rounds. We would then switch roles.
Eventually I would start adding more tools, such as the straight right, and hooks, and eventually it becomes a full Western boxing sparring session. The time this takes varies by the individual. Rarely would this happen in one session, and often times it would stretch out for weeks. Those that were dedicated to their training would obviously progress to "normal" sparring sessions at a quicker pace.
With Muay Thai, it was pretty much the same process, except with kicks. One thing I would have changed about my coaching is to place more emphasis on footjabs. while sparring I found it very rare to find a teepnician (copyrighted ;) ) in the cards back home.
One thing I would recommend right from the start, is make sure that you are practicing clinchwork from the get-go. Much like the teep, I think this gets left behind in many Western gyms. For this, I would start by verbally instructing the etiquette and form of plum. This means no straight knees, and make sure to make contact with the inside of the knee, diffusing the blow with the lower leg. A healthy sparring partner is the most important tool in your training... protect them at all costs. Following this, I would explain the (my) different ranges in the clinch: Outside, swimming arms, and lock. This would involve explanations and demonstrations of dominant, neutral, and subordinate positioning in the clinch.
With the basics laid down, I would have the students start in a dominant clinch position, and pendulum from side to side, throwing knees every three steps so that they alternate sides. When the reps were done, they would switch.
Next, I would add arm positioning, and allow the students to transition through the different positions, from subordinate to dominant. This would involve teaching variant reversals.
Then balance drills. Having the students throw alternating knees, and having the "defender" practice off-balancing their partner. Basic throws and off-balancing techniques are taught.
With all this done, I felt confident to have them go on their own for 10-20 minute sessions, hopefully with mutual respect for each other the whole while.
So this kind of got derailed from what you should be thinking about during sparring, but thought the info might be valuable none-the-less.
As for your second question, I guess my over-simplified answer would be: both. Good technique is important, but so is metagame. Both take experience to develop. I wouldn't prioritize one or the other. Shades of gray do exist...
Hope at least some of this helps...
Last edited by octaviousbp; 10/06/2006 2:25am at .
I have to say WOW to that! You sound like a great coach, very structured and systematic way of teaching! Also, I think the way you let the students discover what you want them to learn (jab drill) is great! When they learn this way they will not forget the lesson, and they learn why it is to do things a certain way, and have conviction in what you taught them. I like this type of learning, instead of the often used "don't do it this way" without explaining the "why".
Thanks for the tips on the clinch. You must have taken time to type all this out, and I really appreciate your input!
Once again, thank you. I am bookmarking this thread!
Glad it helps. No trouble at all.
Nah, I'm just your average white boy. LOL
Originally Posted by PPlate
Sparring can be a weird thing in MuayThai gyms. There are a lot of MuayThai gyms that don't really spar often. Many do excessive pad work. Others do what we refer to as "playing the game", where you go with minimum power, but good speed and play a game of "tag". Some only do real sparring with Boxing only. Some spar full-out.
Originally Posted by Khun Kao
Actual gyms in thailand will tend to have sparring less often and less intensely than you'll see in a competitive western gym. But keep in mind, these are guys who are doing pro fight every weekend
lots of western gyms spar much harder because they can afford to- in thailand if you get hurt sparring you might miss out on 2-3 fights. over here people fight much further apart. I don't think sparring hard out is really that conducive anyway, i hear about guys who have knockouts every other night in their sparring clubs and i think thats just stupid.
sparring should be a place you can try new techniques without getting completely hammered, but not to an extent where you are just fucking around. for a newbie to MT sparring id echo what octavius said- RELAX. biggest thing. dont try to block individual punches by throwing your arms out, it only works in jackie chan movies. and keep everything you throw neat and tidy, if you find yourself swinging for the hills stop and collect yourself for a second, and try again. even if they block what you are throwing dont try and force it by throwing punches wildly.
Alex & SelfCritical did a better job saying what I was trying to say, LOL
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