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flow sparring/heavy hits to the head


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We did a flow spar class the other day. And I had some issues with reacting defensively, but when they're done, I'm able to go again. Like I'm just waiting to go again and forget all my defense training from boxing.

 

But while flow sparring, almost every person I had a go with kept going for my head much harder than necessary. I don't know if that's due to inexperience or not knowing their own strength or what. And I would try to tell them to take it easy on the head shots. But they either didn't register or just didn't want to pay attention. Granted, I know I'm shorter than everyone, but we were only supposed to be at 20% power tops. I shouldn't be feeling like I'm getting whiplash or have my face stinging should I ?

 

Anywho, I saw this article muaythaiguy shared on fb, and thought it a good one to share (if you haven't seen it already.. I imagine a lot of us follow some of the same pages/people).

 

 

http://heatrick.com/2015/05/15/brain-saving-sparring/?utm_content=buffer0cfb0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Thoughts? Comments ? How do you deal with people who give headshots much harder than necessary?

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I just came back home from training and my head feels a bit funny after getting hit hard by one guy...a lot of times...I'm seriously scared of heavy shots to the head...it scares me when I feel like a hammer has punched me :( :( And he's just "taking me seriously" - I dunno...I'm scared of the consequences.

 

 

In reality, a head guard doesn't stop your brain smashing into the inside of your skull, it just minimises external surface cuts and bruising. If you wrap that aerosol paint can in a towel and shake it, the mixing ball still smashes into the inside of the can. And a head guard actually adds to the mass of your skull that's hitting into your brain! You also take more head shots when wearing a head guard, because you can't see as well, and your head's now a bigger target too. So don't go heavy with the head-contact while wearing a head guard thinking you're safe, 'cos you ain't.

 

This scares me even more. I usually spar in head guard. Why am I doing this to myself?! I think I'd rather NOT think abouth the concussions, coz I get frightened and there's a small part of me that wants to give up. Or don't spar. Or spar lightly. But I realised that the things I can react to in light sparring - I can't react to them when there is more strenght to the punches. So...I'm not sure if light sparring is really doing me any good, other than being a lot of fun.

My head still feel funny :( and I'm still scared ;(

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I know a fella who stopped fighting because he had reached the number of concussions you are meant to have in your life! I had probably double that before I started muaythai from rugby and drunken silliness!!

 

As for people being too hard sparring don't spar them!! Im a southpaw and would flat out refuse to spar some people (mostly novice) as I would get injured.

 

Use it to work on your movement like in sparring its not just hitting each other work on slipping the punches or stepping to the side.

 

I actually box hard but I don't mean to, I like getting a good wack every now and then so its not a big shock in a fight!

 

But like I said even right at the start of me fighting I wouldn't spar someone and just be like 'eeeh cos you try to take my bleeding head off'

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A few years ago when I was in a boxing gym I had to spar with some guys who would basically try as hard as possible to give you a whack, even when our instructor was telling everyone to go at 20% power for example. Originally I just kept telling them to tone it down, until eventually I took it up with the instructor that I wasn't exactly comfortable. He just told me to whack them back. I think this is an obvious example of how it shouldn't be approached. I'm also curious how others approach these people

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I'm not a heavy hitter.. Whacking back isn't an option lol. But I can land a leg thip pretty well, and lower kicks. My only saving grace really. Coach doesn't approve of people going harder than necessary. But he doesn't always catch it. So if we're not vocal or the person isn't listening.. Is refusing a logical option ? I don't want to be that person.. But I will be if someone's going way too hard for no good reason. I don't want to get hurt practicing. I'll reserve that opportunity for when I step into the ring.

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How timely this topic...

So last Sat. we had light sparring and I told all of my partners to go easy and not punch through the target (at 40 yrs. old, I DO worry about heavy head shots.)  All partners were excellent and I even got to go with a top mma female...

For the next maybe 8 hours I had this dull pain in my head, not quite a headache.  I've gotten whacked plenty hard before and that has never happened. I figure that I will watch to see if it happens again.

Watching Sylvie's 116th fight, I feel like a chump complaining about light sparring. hehehe.

Bottom line, "go easy and don't punch through the target" was well received by all my partners, even IF I got the dull ache. 

Hope that we can all minimize head trauma while pursuing our Muay Thai goals.

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I've recently left a gym after 3 years because of a similar issue. I love sparring, and I've learned a lot about myself by facing a big fear of getting hit in the head when I first started training. I've taken some big head shots but it's always been an accidental clash with a lot of apologizing and such afterwards. I'm an extremely small female so I often have to ask people to speed it up just a little bit because they're afraid of hurting me.

Unfortunately, I started having seizures (completely unrelated to Muay Thai)in December last year, right before a trip to Thailand with a potential fight lined up. I still wanted sparring time to keep my skills up but couldn't have head contact for 6 months. Everyone at my gym was so understanding and very cognizant of my injury; I didn't get hit in the head once.

I still went to Thailand with my main training partner and my teacher. We've had an agreement: no head shots thrown at me, but I can throw at them. Now, I don't know exactly why this happened and can't get an explanation out of them other than "it wasn't malicious", but I ended up getting hit repeatedly in the head by my partner and kicked in the head by my teacher. I'm not sure if they were frustrated with me, if I was sparring too hard and they wanted to get me to slow down. We were supposed to be going 20% but it felt like they were thrown much harder. The article Sylvie wrote on sparring perception definitely rang true for me at that moment because there isn't a precise, objective way of knowing why it happened. To say the least, I left that gym!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Damien Trainor wrote a great piece about sparring http://www.damientrainor.com/2012/you-dont-need-to-win-in-sparring maybe you should show them this, haha.

Anyway I had this problem once at a gym, I was only young at the time and sparring a man who put 100% in every shot and then actually complained when I would hit back very lightly just because they were 10oz gloves (no one else has ever complained). Some people like to boost their ego, I think sometimes a whack back can work, but I just don't want to be that guy. 

Needless to say, I left it. I joined a new gym and was sparring someone else who was a complete beginner and who was trying to win the sparring, he wasn't hurting me, but he was trying. My trainer just shouted at him and he apologised and we just laughed it off.

 

So in my opinion, you're always going to have people that go hard in sparring, whether it's because they're a beginner (maybe watched too many films) or just have a massive ego, but a good trainer will always enforce the light sparring rule and then it shouldn't happen. 

Though if you spar someone much heavier and they are hitting you lightly, it might just feel hard, when in reality it's not. I spar this guy regularly who's maybe double my weight, he kicks me lightly but because he's so big it makes a big impact, I don't get hurt but the impact makes me feel like I did, its weird to explain, so this is not his fault, just more of a mental and size thing.

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Damien Trainor wrote a great piece about sparring http://www.damientrainor.com/2012/you-dont-need-to-win-in-sparring maybe you should show them this, haha.

Anyway I had this problem once at a gym, I was only young at the time and sparring a man who put 100% in every shot and then actually complained when I would hit back very lightly just because they were 10oz gloves (no one else has ever complained). Some people like to boost their ego, I think sometimes a whack back can work, but I just don't want to be that guy. 

Needless to say, I left it. I joined a new gym and was sparring someone else who was a complete beginner and who was trying to win the sparring, he wasn't hurting me, but he was trying. My trainer just shouted at him and he apologised and we just laughed it off.

 

So in my opinion, you're always going to have people that go hard in sparring, whether it's because they're a beginner (maybe watched too many films) or just have a massive ego, but a good trainer will always enforce the light sparring rule and then it shouldn't happen. 

Though if you spar someone much heavier and they are hitting you lightly, it might just feel hard, when in reality it's not. I spar this guy regularly who's maybe double my weight, he kicks me lightly but because he's so big it makes a big impact, I don't get hurt but the impact makes me feel like I did, its weird to explain, so this is not his fault, just more of a mental and size thing.

That mental size thing is weird.  I feel like I go quite light and have great control, but I think just the height of me (particularly as a woman) just causes fear (which can then cause things to get out of control).  I have not had a chance to try to create fear in a fight situation though a real fighter presumably would have fun trying to shut down my reach etc.  I don't weigh much but yeah, size.  Someone called me a "wall" the other day.  My old Spanish training friend called me a "bull"; not so fond of that one haha. :ninja: Seriously though I KNOW I am going light and people cannot seem to calm down.  I need to spar with more advanced people and I look forward to it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a tough one. You are always going to be paired up with a shitty sparring partner at some point. At the same time, there are also lots of people who have absolutely no control or awareness of how heavy they are actually going, so not all of them are intentionally shitty. In any case, sparring hard all the time isn't going to help you learn, in my experience. I think it actually causes you to develop bad habits, like flinching, not committing, not pushing forward etc because you're afraid of running into something and getting hurt. You need to be able to practice things in a safe environment in order to be come competent and confident enough to actually use the effectively and then take them into a fight. It's not that hard sparring doesn't have its place, but if you're trying to take people's heads off every day, you're a dick.


I seem to be one of those people in the gym who my trainers will let spar with just about anyone, regardless of weight or experience differences. They're comfortable with putting me with complete beginners because they know I'm going to go light. However, this has worked against me with people who like to go hard. I've had a lot of people try to bully me around in sparring, usually because they see the fact that I'm small and not aggressive to be opportunities for them to try and beat me around the ring. I do my best to keep cool about it, because you can't afford to lose your temper in a fight. I also hate to have any confrontation or awkwardness in the gym, so I try very hard to be a good sparring partner as well as a good fighter, because it's not just about me and my training. The ones who've bullied me actually helped me to get better at fighting backwards and using their aggression against them, moving around a lot and picking my shots. When they're not willing to tone it down, I turn it into an exercise in out-classing them. It's probably a bit mean, but I get a real kick out of being able to do that effectively when someone is just trying to bash me. If the person doing that gets visibly frustrated and isn't able to land anything, I've been successful. I'll be nice, but I refuse to be a punchbag.


How you react to difficult sparring partners often depends on what kind of person they are. With some people, you can just tell them politely to chill, and it will be fine. With others, they'll say it's fine but continue to throw bombs either because they don't care or don't realise they're doing it. Sometimes, you do just have to give someone a good whack to make them get the idea. That's a dangerous game, because a lot of people will just try to hit you back twice as hard, then it ends up escalating until someone gets hurt or you get separated. Then, it can get a bit awkward. 


As an add-on to what I said before about a lot of hard sparring not being conducive to progress, I also want to mention that Joe Valtellini was recently forced to vacate his Glory Welterweight title because of post-concussion syndrome, which came as a result of too many hard hits in training. Read more about that here


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I am another one who seems to always get chucked in there with new people or people who are going hard. I imagine it is for the same reasons as you Emma, I usually go pretty light, and I think we both do a good job of controlling the tempo. I also have used this at times as a venue to learn how to just get out of the way more or work on my defense. Hahaha maybe they just think we make good punching bags?

 

I usually handle a situation when someone is going to hard by just really really slowing it down. Often times it seems that my partner just wasn't consciously aware of their speed/power, and when I slow down they subconsciously slow down as well. If I don't feel that is the case I try to stop it early and just tell them I think we are beginning to speed up or lose a little control. If that still doesn't work I just hit them back lol. That is real rare though.

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