Sparring is perhaps one of the most challenging experiences in the sporting world. Like in all sports, there are many factors that contribute to the difference between an expert and a novice, however with kickboxing there are so many applications to consider it can quickly become a very overwhelming experience. Here are 5 pointers from an array of top coaches that help to shed some insight on sparring, and give the mental fortitude to push your goals even further!
Focus on leading the attack, not indirectly countering!
In other words, the hesitant nature of a beginner (whether they know it or not) will often coerce them to have to counter! This is a BAD idea! Countering is tough, and a lot of beginners don’t realize they’re attempting such an advanced art! According to trainer Joe Lewis, countering is about knowing the “attack” of the opponent, understanding the distance/timing of the attack, and the type of counter required. If you don’t know all three, it’s important to just work on executing attack combinations!
Don’t let your opponent beat you to the draw!
Often you’ll hear an instructor pushing you to form fight as fast as possible! Why? Because with the incentive to push yourself physically you’ll open possibilities in sparring you wouldn’t notice at a slower pace! It doesn’t matter who you are even your area of discipline in martial arts. A lot of coaches encourage you to take the initiative and set the pace!
Make sure you’re not standing square!
This means shoulders will be left open giving your opponent ample opportunity to strike you and infringe your balance. Which leads to the next point: your technique will be limited as you wont be able to rotate your hips and generate power in your strikes! If in doubt, just keep it simple and remember the basics. Keep the back heel up and make sure your stance allows you to twist your hips.
Keep your feet under your punches!
This is all to do with not overreaching with the reverse punch, which will only impede your flow and hurt your balance. Not to mention the “hang time” of leaving your right arm out stretched, rendering you incapable of following up with a roundhouse kick or attack combination.
As Georges St-Pierre said, “standing still is never a good option. Not in the ring, and not in life outside the octagon either. When you stop moving, you’re done.”
Make the most of your space and build your footwork. This will develop the mind-set to try new techniques and change rhythm, which will disrupt an aggressive opponent!
Sparring week is just round the corner, so try to keep these simple pointers in mind while training and give them a go! It won’t just improve your work ethic but will allow you develop a greater level of self-confidence and belief!