What I’m Working On – Pt. 3 – Guard, Aggression, and Pace

My most recent fight illuminated a lot of holes in my fighting, but it also demonstrated for me that adjustments can be made at short notice.  I really wanted...

My most recent fight illuminated a lot of holes in my fighting, but it also demonstrated for me that adjustments can be made at short notice.  I really wanted to land punches in this fight because I’ve been working on my boxing with Neung, and by the same token I have been training boxing with Neung in order to land my hands.  I did manage to land my hands more than I have in the past, including a left uppercut right to the jaw of my opponent which snapped her head back.  If I’d been slightly better prepared I would have hopped forward with it and landed my right cross on top of it.  That day is coming.

What I’ve taken from this last fight as the most important elements to work on in the coming week are the following:

  • keep a tighter, higher guard
  • aggression, be more decisive
  • push the pace, because these girls cannot keep up with me



My guard isn’t bad and my hands were definitely protecting me in this fight, but it took a while for them to get there (every round is too long when you aren’t defending your head) and I would be much more dangerous if I were able to stay in – and just flat out walk in – with better defense.  I took an elbow in the first round that shouldn’t have landed and didn’t land again, but my guard needs to be higher and tighter.  Den was worried that my new scar would reopen on my scalp if it was struck and I’ve noticed by hitting the bag the day after my fight that when I keep my hands up properly I am feeling a stinging sensation on exactly the two spots I’ve received elbows.  This means if my hands had been up where they should have been, neither of these cuts would have happened.  So, elbows at my chin, just like Master K always told me.

Aggression as Insistence

There’s a really great line in the movie “Redbelt,” written and directed by David Mamet, where the protagonist is coaching one of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu students through sparring.  He sees his student struggling against his opponent’s defense and the coach keeps repeating, “insist on the move.  Insist on the move.”  I love that so much and it’s exactly what I need to be doing.  I pull my kicks or throw my punches at half-speed or half-power for no reason.  Once you make up your mind that the strike is landing no matter what, it will land… no matter what.  It’s insisting on the move.  Master K called this not being “interrupted.”  And it’s a matter of aggression.  If you don’t want to get hurt, your defense sucks.  If you don’t want to hurt anybody, your offense sucks.  In the words of my first boxing instructor, Ray Valez: “This is the hurtin’ game.”

Pace – the Indigo Effect

My conditioning is significantly beyond any of the women I fight.  I train more and harder than any of them and I know this for a fact. Many are not full time fighters like I am. So it’s not a question whether I can out-work an opponent in the 4th or 5th round.  I can drag anyone – so far – into the deep waters and drown them – it is one of my advantages, I need to be able to better purposely use it.  In this last fight I definitely demonstrated my reserves while my opponent was deciding whether or not she was even going to get up from the floor, but I could have stepped on the gas in the 4th round and just crushed her.  She could have become a punching bag with a little more resolve on my part.  I’ve hit that wall before in training and there’s just nothing you can do when you’re that spent and your opponent is still coming at you.  I need to make it more clear and I can do this easily by pushing the pace earlier and stepping it up higher when my opponent starts to fade.

The beautiful thing about the fighters I watch on TV putting on a perfect Muay Thai fight is not necessarily technique (it’s artful and inspiring, for sure) but rather the stronger fighter’s ability to shift into another gear with every round.  You thought he was amazing in round 2 and then he turns it up.  His opponent gets in a good strike and he turns it up.  It is 100% like that scene from “The Princess Bride” when Indigo is sword-fighting the “man in black” and just as the latter begins to overpower him, Indigo smiles.  When asked why he is smiling in his imminent defeat Indigo tosses his sword into the air and catches it with his right hand, proclaiming, “I am not left handed!” and fights the masked man back.  It’s about always having more to give and my last fight showed me that I don’t even know where that limit is in my fights.  I’ve hit it in training, but I want to plow through it in fights.  In order to do this, I need to hit it in training all the time.

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A 100 lb. (46 kg) female Muay Thai fighter. Originally I trained under Kumron Vaitayanon (Master K) and Kaensak sor. Ploenjit in New Jersey. I then moved to Thailand to train and fight full time in April of 2012, devoting myself to fighting 100 Thai fights, as well as blogging full time. Having surpassed 100, and then 200, becoming the westerner with the most fights in Thailand, in history, my new goal is to fight an impossible 471 times, the historical record for the greatest number of documented professional fights (see western boxer Len Wickwar, circa 1940), and along the way to continue documenting the Muay Thai of Thailand in the Muay Thai Library project: see patreon.com/sylviemuay


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