If you are new to boxing, chances are you might have heard a lot about sparring. Sparring is way more different than fighting. Fighting is more aggressive, and to be honest, be prepared to get destroyed in the ring. But sparring builds your skills. It tells you what areas you need to improve, which is unlike only training with the equipment. Punchbag training or punching on focus mitts is totally essential to work your up in the boxing arena. Training on equipment such as punch bag, focus mitts, or bag mitts teaches you technique, but sparring tells you how to fight face-to-face with your opponent.
Sadly, many beginners just don’t get the whole idea behind sparring. They only evaluate themselves on the scale of toughness. Either they are strong enough to take the beating or not. But the truth is, not all beginners know how to spar, or they don't get the right trainer to teach them the right method.
Where Sparring Goes Wrong for Beginners?
This might have started for you somewhere when being a crazy boxing fan, you decided to give it a try. On a funny note, maybe you were punching the hell out of kids during your high school days so much so that it started feeling native to you. So you stepped into a training academy thinking all high of you. Because hey, isn't boxing all about punching. This may burst your bubble, but boxing does not only circle around punching. It demands strength, endurance, and mental capability to crash your opponent. But as I said, you may have approached boxing differently. That’s why after learning all the basic defense techniques and footwork, you got impatient to fight.
It had been itching you to go Mayweather on someone, and for this reason, you don't want to 'spar'; you only want to fight. When you go with this mindset to sparring sessions, you also mean to destroy the opponent. Some trainers fail to make a good fighter out of a competent person just because of their sink-or-swim strategy. In this method of testing a fighter if he is fierce enough or not, a trainer takes the essence of sparring out of it.
You cannot learn martial arts without sparring. You can learn to kick, block, punch, parry and make different moves without sparring but to know how it works in a real environment, you have to do sparring. It is not an actual fight but only a practice that helps you put your learning into action.
Sparring is not FIGHTING. It actually improves the fighting skills and teaches a fighter his weak and strong points. There is no winning or losing when you spar either as a beginner or a pro. You just put yourself out there and deal with your weak points. To tell you the truth, learn to spar correctly, and you’ll become a much better fighter in much less time. However, it requires you to keep doing something that needs more practice on your end in a controlled manner. Controlled sparring lets you practice new techniques without getting a good beating for making errors.
How to Know the Aggressive Pace of Fighters in Sparring Session?
Sparring is a hypothetically easy and controlled session in comparison to the actual fight. It is supposed to be this way so that both fighters in the sparring session get an equal chance to practice different techniques and learn.
Yes, it’s understandable that the sparring session should at least mimic the real fight scene to prepare the fighters for D-day but for beginners, it's a big NO. A high level of sparring is only for fighters who are used to fighting. Beginners are not anywhere near the fighting potential of the professional fighters, and therefore, sparring intensity must be controlled for them.
Let’s take a close look at various red flags in terms of sparring intensity for beginners.
This one is pretty clear. If you hear the loud beating sound of punches landing on focus mitts, this means fighters are into hard-hitting. Halt the session right there, and instruct the fighters to throw only light punches. Explain it to them that punches should only mean to be 'tagging' each other, and not for bombarding.
Flinching of Eyes
You need to be vigilant in the ring to defend yourself against the landing punches, and flinching your eyes face-to-face with the opponent would leave you defenseless. Slow sparring would allow the fighters to focus closely without flinching in anticipation. Make sure that they only use the classic combination of boxing techniques, no tricky maneuvers. Stay away from crazy uppercuts and only focus on practicing lots of jabs with the right hand.
Somehow similar to the flinching of eyes, except that in this case, you notice the body of the fighters panicking. If he shakes his head abruptly or swiftly attempts to slap the glove away, tell them to control. It’s okay if they miss the shot and couldn’t respond on time. After all, that's what they are training for - to stay vigilant and prepared for every move made by the opponent. Block the shot but not too aggressively. Just let the punch land on the focus mitts, and then respond with a follow-up shot. It is a trainer’s job to tell the fighters that they don’t need to chase or maneuver every punch.
More Running Around and Less Punching
If I say it honestly, I feel it is more kind of a gimmick than anything to do with the actual strategy. Though there is nothing wrong with extra footwork, but sometimes, beginners are more focused on distraction tactics rather than on punching. And hitting is the only way to engage with your opponent. For fighters to get accustomed to sparring, they need to stand at arm’s length and engage with each other. Instead of running around and throwing one punch after a while, the instructor should tell them to stay in range and keep throwing punches in combination. But most IMPORTANTLY, they should be sparring so carefully that they can take every combination without being jolted.
Getting tired, be it in a workout or sparring session, is our body's natural mechanism. But, what I really mean here is that you are getting exhausted way too early or maybe injured then you need to stop because you are sparring hard. Make sure that you are going at a pace which enables both fighters to practice sparring for 8-10 rounds easily. You can get the best out of you and master the techniques of fighting if you just slow down your pace in sparring. Plus, you can have fun, too, in the ring even to round 15 if you just slow it down. Ask your partner to keep the pace slow, and maybe he'd love to keep sparring too.
I find it strange that people would do heavy bag training for straight 2 hours, but the same people melt like ice cream only after sparring for 3 rounds. But, now you know the reason. The faster and harder you'll go, the faster you'll exhaust. Only a couple of minutes for building the skill are not enough. And then, you might wonder where you went wrong in performing the best.
This is something you need to be concerned about. Sparring is very much close to actual fighting. So, if you feel like you are not enjoying sparring, you are not enjoying boxing. You have to be enjoying the session, and to do this, you need to go into the ring with the right mindset. Sparring is beyond you winning or proving that you’re tough enough to fight. It is more about building, skill, the right technique, practice, and having fun in it. All this only requires you to practice controlled sparring with slow-paced hitting.
Boxing is undeniably one of the most popular combat sports all around the world, and more and more people are now attracted to boxing training. As a beginner, if you think you are aggressive and tough enough to give it a go, then this blog might have given you an insight that where you can go wrong. Sparring is a must if you want to make it to the fighting arena, and being a beginner, you just need to be sure that you are taking slow and steady.
If you happen to be the one who is interested in taking their boxing interest to next level, and is looking for the right kind of equipment to train, then Xn8 Sports is your virtual buddy. Go to their website, and place your order of punch bag, focus pads, boxing mitts, or whatever it is you looking for at affordable rates.