Sparring can be daunting as a beginner. Etiquette, fitness, power, technique and cardio all come into play in a fast paced, energetic setting that might be hard to comprehend. There are some essential kickboxing beginner sparring tips when it comes to kickboxing sparring that can help make it an easier and more enriching experience. These tips are mostly transferable to other martial arts, which also helps, so let’s get into it.
1. Have Achievable Goals
My number one piece of advice, and one of the most helpful tips I can think of. By having goals, I mean give yourself measurable targets to work towards during sparring. This could be: ‘Land 5 leg kicks‘, ‘hit them in the face at least twice‘, or ‘focus on blocking leg kicks‘. Giving yourself goals during sparring practice means you’re actually hitting targets and making objective improvements.
Lets say you set a goal to land 5 leg kicks against your partner, and you did, you can consider it a small victory (even if they beat you up in the process!). This way, you can walk away from sparring sessions fulfilled, knowing you achieved your targets.
You can learn a lot about setting goals in sparring in this video by Hard2Hurt on YouTube
2. Stay Composed, Keep it at a Comfortable Pace
Composure is the key to improvement. This means breathing, footwork, and your guard, stay on top of all of them. It’s easy to panic and shell up, run away, or swing wildly when your partner advances. It’s important to keep track of your breathing, don’t hold your breath, and breath out in short, sharp breaths when you are striking.
Don’t cross your legs, keep your footwork in check otherwise you can be knocked off balance. Another thing is staying composed and not turning your back to your opponent, in real competition this is a death warrant. You’ll feel stiff and incapable at first, but when you start honing your countering techniques, and get faster on your feet, it will feel natural and fluid.
Keep the sparring at your pace
No respectable gym lets beginners get beaten up in sparring. If your partner is going too hard, do not hesitate to ask them to lower the pace/power. You’re not out of line if you tell your coach and get switched out if they continue. If your coach is toxic or refuses to help, then the gym isn’t for you.
The best gyms are looking out for their member’s wellbeing. Don’t forget you’re a paying customer, you’re paying for training, not to be beaten up.
3. Have fun but keep good sparring etiquette
One of the most important pieces of advice is to just have fun, you’re there to train it isn’t a fight. Lots of gym newbies jump into sparring with the intention of winning a hypothetical fight. If you’re following advice no. 1 then you’re already not doing this, but either way, sparring isn’t about competition (unless you’re training for a fight). You’re there to improve each other, which means allowing your partner to test their moves, before trying your own.
You are also responsible for the pace and output of your sparring sessions. Each new partner comes with a feeling out session where you determine the power, and pace of your little simulated battle. You are responsible for establishing the pace and power than you are comfortable with, this comes with telling your partner whether they can go harder, or take it easier. All of the above is known as good sparring etiquette.
What is Bad Sparring Etiquette?
Examples of bad sparring etiquette include:
- Hitting hard without first mutually establishing the pace
- Throwing unorthodox techniques such as axe kicks, elbows, and other techniques that don’t utilise protective gear
- Teasing & being disrespectful
- Having no regard for your partners injuries or requests, such as no hits to the face
- Not giving your partner the room to breath and test their own techniques
Here is a good video on sparring etiquette by Jeff Chan MMAShredded on YouTube
Kickboxing Sparring Tips for Beginners – Conclusion
Sparring is all about measurable success, self improvement, respect, and having fun. Bear these things in mind next time you jump into sparring, you might find yourself improving at a great rate!
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