Beginner’s Guide to Muay Thai Sparring

Getting good at Muay Thai requires a variety of different training session types.

One of the essential parts of the training is sparring sessions. This is the session where you can test your knowledge and use it to work. 

However, not all sparring sessions are the same. 

Some people do spar light, and some prefer to spar hard.

Both sparring sessions have their time and place, and after some experience, you will be able to recognize the right time for each. 

However, some beginners find adapting to actual hand-to-hand combat difficult and sometimes lose motivation after bad sessions. 

In this MMAWhisperer article, we will talk about tips for beginners in Muay Thai and discuss: 

  • How To Get Better At Sparring Muay Thai Faster
  • First-Time Sparring Muay Thai What To Expect?
  • Easy Muay Thai Sparring Combos
  • Muay Thai Sparring Equipment For Beginners
  • Muay Thai Clinch Sparring For Beginners 

So, after reading this article, you will be ready to start your journey in Muay Thai, get used to sparrings easier, and improve faster. 

Let’s get started!

What to Expect on Your First Time Sparring Muay Thai

I started Muay Thai Boxing after several years of school fights and two years into my professional MMA career.

I realized that Jiu-Jitsu and MMA kickboxing classes were not enough if I wanted to improve faster, so I decided to join a Muay Thai Boxing gym.

Even though I was experienced and had several amateur fights and 2 professional bouts on my record, I got nervous when I stood in front of a guy wearing full Muay Thai gear: very beautiful Thai boxing shorts, elbow and knee protectors, Fairtex gloves, and huge shin guards.

First time sparring in Muay Thai

I realized that when I had problems in standup fighting, I was shooting for takedowns and relying on Jiu Jitsu and wrestling, and now I couldn’t do it, so I got nervous. 

If I got nervous after so much experience, I guarantee you it is more than okay to feel uncomfortable and maybe afraid before sparrings. 

You have to expect those feelings to be overcome that easily because these will be barriers on your way that you need to pass through.

Breathe, relax and realize that you are there to improve, learn more, and have fun.

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How To Get Better At Sparring Muay Thai Faster

Whether you train Muay Thai for MMA or plan to be a pure Nak Muay, there are things you can do to improve faster. Let’s break them down:

  • Build Funaments – Try to train on basic combinations as many times as possible. I loved doing some acrobatic stuff at the beginning, but I realized that everything great is built on good fundaments. 
  • Find Good Sparring Partners – Having a good sparring partner is crucial in this sport. You need to help each other, try to fix errors, and not punish them with KO when testing new stuff. 
  • Slow Down – Sometimes, when people join the gym, they are trying “win” the sparring sessions. Let me tell you something when you go hard on your first day; nobody thinks you are cool. Moreover, they think you are dumb. You are here to improve and win the fights outside the gym. This is your family, and family members do not try to defeat each other. 
  • Have a Plan – Having a plan before sparring is essential for me. For example, I had a plan to reach that liver shot. In the beginning, I eat lots of punches, but day by day, I felt improvement in closing distance, avoiding punches, and landing liver shots. Or, sometimes I work on my footwork and defense, I try to test my low kicks, and so on. It helps me to improve a lot!

There are the essential things you need to know about the sparring process, but let’s continue talking in more detail.

I mentioned that basic combos are critical. Still, different combinations work differently for people, so let’s break down some easiest and most essential combinations which you should try to work on. 

Learn the difference between Lethwei and muay thai

Easy Muay Thai Sparring Combos

As I already said, this combo works differently from others, but let me share my top 5 favorite basic combinations that I think every beginner should try.

Sparring light in Muay Thai

Jab, Cross, RoundHouse

There are two different combinations, but they can still be discussed in the same paragraph. Jab and Cross are tools to restrict your rival’s vision field. Human beings’ reflex is to put their hands a little up while seeing a punch coming, and when the body is relatively nonprotected, you should land a body kick.

WARNING ON THE JAB-CROSS-ROUNDHOUSE COMBINATION

If you start the combination with a cross, put it back on the chin to avoid getting caught by a counter-attack. As soon as you put it back on the chin, you can throw a kick.

Cross Switch Kick

This is one of my favorite combinations I always try to use. As soon as I land the Cross, they block it, their hands are relatively higher, and that’s when you should switch stance by stepping your right leg a bit frontier and throwing a left kick on the liver.

Cross, Left Hook, and Low Kick

I love starting combinations with the right cross because people do not expect it.

The right cross is an excellent start of the combination, which restricts the area of vision; landing the left Hook forces the sparring partner to shift the weight to the left leg so he can not check the kick, and that’s the moment when you land right low kick when he can not block it. 

Jab and Right Cross To The Body

At the very beginning, people are always headhunting. They think that if you want to defeat the rival, you should hurt his head. The body is a bigger target, a less protected place, and an excruciating location to land a shot.

You can damage your opponent’s stamina even if you do not get a KO victory with a body shot

Jab, Cross, Left High Kick

Probably the most effective combination of mine. Jab cross, also known as one-two, is a great start to the combination. When the rival is blocking that punches, he puts his hands down a bit to see what’s happening, and that’s when the left high kick lands. 

Muay Thai sparring Warning:

Your goal is to land, and touching is enough, never aim to knock out someone in sparring until the coach permits you to go that hard. 

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Muay Thai Clinch Sparring For Beginners

Clinch sparring Muay Thai

Thai Clinch is one of the most important parts of the game in Thai Boxing. However, sometimes, or in other words, all the time, beginners will try to rip off your head from your neck at the expense of their muscles. 

I can not teach you the techniques here, but let me tell you the best tip.

Never try to use all your power in the clinch. Ask your coaches to explain the same technique as many times as you need, and try to watch how the professionals do it. 

Try to test some techniques against smaller guys who can not bully you with muscles. If the technique will work against them, try a relatively more muscular guy, and so on.

And the most important thing is to be careful. In the clinch, any elbow or knee can cause lots of damage.

Muay Thai Sparring Equipment For Beginners

Safety is the most important thing, especially for beginners. The right gear is the most important thing not only for your but for your sparring partner’s safety, too, so let’s discuss each fighting gear in more detail. 

Venum Elite Thai Boxing Gloves

Best Gloves For Muay Thai

Purchasing the best gloves for Muay Thai is very important.

A low-quality Muay Thai glove can cause damage to your sparring partner’s face and can break your hand, too. 

In Thai Boxing, there are several famous and best gloves like Fairtex BGV1, Twins Special, Venum Elite, and Hayabusa T3. These are the most suitable gloves for Thai boxing, and you can also check more information about each glove on our website. 

Even if you do not get the one from these gloves, you still need to get at least 14 OZ gloves for sparring sessions, if not 16 OZ. 

Nobody will be sparring with you if you get 8, 10, or 12 OZ size gloves because it can cause lots of damage to their faces, and nobody is coming for that in the gym. 

Shin Guards

To learn how to kick, you need high-quality shin guards. 

In high-quality shin guards, you need a pair that won’t move around a lot during the sparring sessions and has a great amount of padding distributed in all areas. 

You will most likely hit 5 out of 10 kicks right on the elbow when you are using body kicks, and your shin will hurt a lot. 

When I injured my leg, I never used body kicks again. Still, after having relevant shin guards, I started using body kicks again and efficiently. 

It is also crucial for accidental shin clash, where you can damage your legs and break them. 

So, choose the best shin guards for your Muay Thai experience. 

Head Gear

It is easy to choose suitable headgear. If it is not moving, fits well, feels comfortable, and has good padding, it works for you. 

In the beginning, you will feel uncomfortable using it; I got tired easily using them, but it’s okay; safety should be the priority. If you get tired, you will have a rest. 

Mouth Guard

Do not buy the cheapest mouthguard in a very sports shop you will see. You will most likely have this mouthguard for years, so get a good one. 

Also, check the instructions carefully because each mouth guard has specific rules, and never spar without them. Otherwise, you will not only say goodbye to your teeth, but your mouth will rip off from the inside by your teeth. 

Even one simple jab can destroy your mouth from the inside. Trust me, and it is not worth it; use a mouth guard.

Elbow and Knee Protection

I started training in Thai Boxing, not boxing or kickboxing, to learn how to use knees and elbows.

These strikes are the beauty of Thai Boxing for me, but using them is very dangerous to your partner because they cause lots of damage.

To prevent them as max as possible, you need the best quality elbow/knee protector. If you will cut anyone with your knee or elbow, trust me, no one will be sparring with you, or if they do, they will be very aggressive, so “treat others like you want to be treated,” life rule works in Muay Thai, too. 

Groin Protection

You might get hurt only once in your career and ruin all your life, so why not buy one good groin protection, to prevent the risks?

Muay thai sparring for beginners

Beginner’s Guide to Muay Thai Sparring Final Ideas

You know what you need for your first sparring sessions; you know that you feel a bit nervous, and it’s okay; we all have been there.

You also know the tips, which are essential to improve faster.

Some combinations mentioned above might work for you, and there will be lots of other combinations that work for you and not for others, so do not be afraid to explore the new stuff after learning some basic knowledge. 

Always listen to your coach, he knows better, he is the ” family leader,” and you should have a friendly relationship with him.

You need to discuss your weak and strong sides of yours and plan your future together. 

Now you are ready for your first sparring sessions!

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