I can remember my early years when I used to get totally wiped out during Muay Thai class. Sparring sessions were just a reason for the other more experienced fighters to just punish me for 3 minutes at a time. It was brutal and it was fast…too fast to process that I’d end up just taking the beatdown.
At the time, I thought it was all in my head…that I just needed to calm the hell down. I had practiced all the moves, perfected their forms and movements as best as I could and even looked better in training than a lot of the other guys. Yet, when it time to scrap, I’d get left in the dust, pummeled. And even though there aren’t any winners in sparring, my opponent and I both knew who got the worse end of the stick.
Here’s What Positive Self-Talk, Self-Image Reinforcement Did For My Game….
I had tried a lot of ‘mental’ tactics out there…like positive self-talk, self-image reinforcement, to try to get myself to slow things down so I could process and respond. Same result, over and over….and even worse…I felt like a jack-ass incanting silly phrases to myself in my car before class.
The turning point for me came when I really started to take a detailed approach towards the defensive side of Muay Thai. The simple basics, which are often overlooked for training powerful strikes, but in my opinion, a world apart in terms of importance. Without the defense, offensive techniques are useless – at best, they’d be inconsistent.
3 Simple Tips You Can Implement Now to Quickly Turn Yourself into the Most Composed Guy/Gal on the Sparring Mats
Here are three overlooked aspects of training Muay Thai and in-particular Muay Thai defense that if you turn them into a skill, will transform your game. In other words, you won’t get hit anywhere near the amount you are now, and you’ll have a composure that you only imagined before. So what are they?
1. Keeping The Eyes Focused on the center of the torso during sparring – You can’t be calm in a sparring situation if your eyes are constantly shifting all over the place. The act of shifting your eyes around instead of a single focus on the torso makes it difficult to defend in Muay Thai. The strikes come from all angles from varying distances that shifting the eyes around trying to focus on every strike coming in leads to complete and utter failure.
Focus the eyes on the center of your opponent, always returning to this spot so you get used to training your periphery to start seeing the strikes before they land. Start training this today – it’s not as easy or automatic as you’d might think.
2. Keep The Chin Tucked AND Use your Shoulders to Cover the Chin – This is so basic but you even see at the professional level of Muay Thai competition, people lifting their chins up into the sky, lunging at their opponent. This is a recipe for knockout.
By keeping the chin down and the shoulders covering the chin, you’ll be exposing mostly the thick part of your skull to the opponent, instead of the sensitive chin, nose, and eyes. Keeping the shoulders up will create a nice ‘turtle’ defense’ where you can hide your head.
3. Learn to absorb hard shots without flinching or pulling back – I think one of the hardest things for a newbie in sparring is learning to absorb the impact instead of tensing up. Usually, the strikes from the opponent are not as hard as we perceive them to be. A lot of times, I discovered, the act of tensing up would actually make the opponents strikes feel harder than if I just learned to relax when bracing for them.
This takes time and what I would suggest is get a partner you trust to continuously barrage you with kicks and punches until you learn to keep the eyes focused, and the body from tensing up throughout. The best way to absorb and diffuse a strike is either to move with or move against it. Staying where you are, tensing up and closing your eyes, that’s that gray area that will get you hurt!
Here’s how to get started….
Take the one technique of the three that really stands out to you. Start to make this a singular focus during training…meaning focus on training this one aspect for about two weeks. Train it in sparring, while you shadowbox, on the bag, and in as many situations as possible. It will turn you into a confident, composed Muay Thai fighter like you wouldn’t imagine. Master all three and you’ll be a completely upgraded fighter and really get noticed at the gym for being a force to be reckoned with!