Muay Thai Sparring 101: 5 Tips All Beginners Should Know

Advice For Those New To Muay Thai Sparring

There comes a time in every Muay Thai journey when you’re ready to add another important part to your training: sparring!

Sparring can be very fun and it’s a great way to use what you learned in classes and padwork. It helps you develop reactions, distance, and timing. However, many beginners make the common mistakes below. Have a read and find out the different ways to minimize damage to yourself and your teammates.

#1. Bring your own gear to class (shinguards, big gloves, handwraps, mouthpiece) and make sure you clean them!

This is part of Muay Thai 101. When the trainers tell the class to spar, the last thing they want to hear is “Can I borrow some shinguards?”

Everyone needs to be responsible and account for their own preparation. Also, nobody wants to be punched in the face by gloves that smell like wet socks that have been sitting in a hot plastic bag for weeks. Air out and sanitize your gear. There are plenty of home remedies you can do to rid your gloves of odor, including wood chips and baking soda. It will help them last longer and your teammates will be thankful.

#2. Control your power, it’s not a street fight

ESPECIALLY if you are a beginner, control your power. When you don’t know how to control your reactions, you can seriously hurt another person or hurt yourself in the process. People who have trained long enough have seen all sorts of injuries that could have been avoided easy, from a simple bloody nose to a torn ACL. Also, as a beginner, you should be working on technique, not taking off someone’s head. Keep in mind that with most people, the harder you spar them, they harder they’ll spar back.

muay thai sparring tips for beginners#3. You don’t need to be scared when sparring with a fighter

A fighter has years of experience behind them and sparring with one will be one of the more technical and controlled experiences in a gym.

A fighter knows they don’t need to go hard because they can dismantle their sparring partner’s tactics with pure technique. Some beginners feel the need to “prove themselves” against a fighter, and this is absolutely not necessary. Work on using your eyes and what you learned in class to attack and defend.

#4. …But you should be cautious when sparring with another beginner

Be cautious for the same reasons you need to control your own power. Some beginners are too timid to do much in sparring, but other beginners start thrashing it out against each other. Movements that have unnecessary power behind them and are done too fast are a recipe for disaster for both you and your sparring partner. Always emphasize you want to work on technique before the round starts, and if you find yourself or your partner swinging, stop and go back to emphasizing technique.

You may not have the best reactions and defense, but do your best to relax

#5. Many beginners are extremely tense when they train and it is often no different when they start sparring.

Tense muscles make for unintentional power and possibly injury to self or others. Being tense also makes you extremely tired, so you might not have energy to react quickly. And when you get hit repeatedly or if none of your combos seem to work, don’t get frustrated. Frustration will only blind you further. Take deep breaths, roll your shoulders back and down, and release your muscles. When you use a certain muscle group only when you have to, you will be so much faster as well as much more controlled.

muay thai boxing sparring tips

Looking for some more tips on sparring? Check out the links below:

Top 10 Sparring Tips for Muay Thai – Whether it’s your 1st or 100th sparring session, there is ALWAYS something that you can be improving on. Here are a few tips so you can sharpen your striking skills during your next sparring sessoin.

Muay Thai Sparring Session Breakdown – In this video, I break down the techniques, strategies and combos that both Chris Mauceri and I use during our light technical sparring session together.

10 Types of Muay Thai Sparring Partners – Chances are you’ll run into a variety of sparring partners throughout your Muay Thai journey, so here’s an idea for what to expect.

Drills and Sparring Tips for Muay Thai (How To Take a Beating) – Scared of getting punched in the face? Worried about wearing a body kick on your ribs? Don’t like the pain of getting your kicks checked? This article is a must read then!

Muay Thai Mondays: How Can I Relax During Sparring? – In this week’s Muay Thai Monday Q&A, Lucy Stanyer asks for any tips and advice when it comes to overthinking and freezing up during sparring sessions. My training partner Chris Mauceri and I share our tips on how to improve your sparring.

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Angela Chang
Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.

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