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I’m a 33-year old female Muay Thai hobbyist. By that I mean I’m not a “fighter”… in the sense that I do not fight in “real” (even amateur) fights.  But I’ve trained for something like 7 years… and I train everyday, I spar often, and I take both seriously. I want to be as good as I can be…

The thing is: I can’t help but question WHY.  Or, put another way, I don’t have a good answer when others ask me why…  (I’m old for the sport, and have no intention of becoming a “fighter”.  In truth, I’m often scared before sparring sessions… But I do ultimately enjoy it…)

I feel strongly that women (in particular) “should” fight… that there is unique personal growth and benefit from the act of sparring.  But I have trouble putting to words WHY. 

So, I wondering if ya’ll can help me…

Do you think that anyone (and particularly women) gain from training & sparring… even if there’s no real goal (or accolade, or quantifiable metric) available as a result?  

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When I started fighting, it was because I felt like I didn't really know any of the skills/techniques I was learning unless I could do them under pressure. For me, that pressure was fighting. I trained alone in a basement with my Ajarn - Master K - and he wouldn't touch me. He'd pad himself up like crazy so I could kick him but he wouldn't really hit me back. So, the first time I fought I'd only sparred, like, 3 times.. EVER. There are people who get that from their gyms, they get the pressure, the "fight experience," in training. It's not the same as fighting, no matter how realistic you try to make it, because you trust or know your training partners, it's more controlled, you're not (supposed to be) trying to really hurt or KO each other or cut each other with elbows. But it's pressure.

I don't think everyone MUST fight, but there is something truly amazing about the experience that I recommend and urge everyone to experience at least once. But if you're not excited by it, then there's no "why," and without a "why" there's no drive or how or any of that. It's not age, it's not experience, it's not skill - none of those things determine whether or not you should or shouldn't fight. But not wanting to, that's reason enough.

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I was too lax with my word usage…

I’m referring to “sparring” as “fighting”… and of course they are not the same.  (Though, in truth, I haven’t given enough thought to just how different they are… so thanks for that.)

I suppose I was trying to find words to express why one should spar –– if there’s no end game of becoming a fighter.  (But, as I write this now, I think I know the answer… Maybe “because it’s challenging & therefore fun” is a good enough reason…)

Your response brings to mind a new question, though: at what point do you think age begins to really matter?

Also: fighting after just 3 sparring sessions must take crazy courage.   Did you find a technique (self talk, etc.) to push past the fear… or do you think you were just born fearless?  :o)


P.S.  Thank you so much for the response.  And apologies for the 20 questions…  Feel free to completely ignore me… :o)

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I think it's good to push yourself and try for more when you're passionate about it, so if you are passionate about muay thai then see how far you can go with it. Pushing makes us stronger and gives us experiences to learn from.

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Well, I adore training, and I adore sparring - and I would give my eye teeth for a fight, even at the most baby level. But there's precious little chance of me getting even an entry-level inter-club tournament bout. It's one of the reasons I've joined kickboxing classes, because at least tournaments for KB do exist in the UK for women.

I know what you mean though, about 'why' spar if you're not going to get a fight (either because one doesn't want to, or due to other factors such as lack of opportunity, age, weight, whatever). At least by training and sparring you stand a better chance if you get into an unpleasant situation in 'real life' (such as being grabbed by a person with wicked intentions, or in an attempted robbery, or something). I'd say training in any martial art has got to be a good idea for that alone. MT has not only improved my mental awareness, but also improved how I stand and walk, as well as toning my body generally.

I think women in particular can gain a lot from training and sparring because generally speaking a lot of women are not very physical - they might run, or do pilates, but don't often push themselves physically and mentally the way you do when sparring. That's got to be a good thing; to have physical power. I'm not finding this easy to explain - but the closest I think I can get is the feeling I got the first time I shot an arrow - all that power and force as the arrow shot across and hit the target, and that power came from ME. Yes, obvs the construction of the bow gave me maximum force for my pull, but it was still MY physical muscles that provided the initial energy. It was an amazing buzz. And the realisation of Wow, yes, I'm female, so I'm not going to be as strong as a male, but I CAN do this, I do have physical strength.

I am Woman, hear me Roar!

Besides which, there's no better feeling than landing a really good punch or kick onto a worthy opponent, is there!!! :woot:

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Thanks, Fighting Frog!  You raise a great point…

I do think one of the primary reasons I enjoy sparring is because it’s considered masculine…  So every time I spar, it’s like a tiny little “FU” to gendered stereotypes. 

I LOVE the 1st time I spar with some new dude (who is clearly disappointed at have to train with a “girl”)… and especially that look of surprise when they realize you are not just “at their level”… but more skilled than they are. 

With sparring, I can earn respect in 30 seconds flat… whereas elsewhere in life (e.g., in business) it takes much, much longer.   

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In jiu jitsu, "rolling" (aka sparring) is heavily pressured to do. Pretty much everyone rolls a round or multiple after drilling. However, when I first started doing bjj I didn't get into rolling until about 4 months in. I just wasn't interested in it and wanted to learn more technique first. After nearly 2 years of doing bjj, honestly can't say I love it as much as others, lol.

For what it's worth I don't think you're old at all - I am 31. 

I love, love, love training. Sparring and rolling I'm not super crazy about still, but I'm getting more comfortable with it. I don't love sparring and rolling as much yet because I still get my ass kicked all the time, and that's tough to deal with (but I'm learning).

I think if you want to spar, spar. If you want to roll, roll. Or vice-versa, don't!  Personally, I think people do too much of either one and don't allow themselves enough rest.

But if you like sparring - or fighting - then do it. I think that's reason enough. I spar because it is a way to utilize what I've learned and practice it. It's also an amazing stress on the body physically that really tests you, I think. Nothing more winding than sparring or rolling! 

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