This post really isn’t about Muay Thai vs. MMA. It’s more about my experience sparring in MMA gyms after spending a year in Thailand. It’s not this is better than that. More like an observation.
So anyway, after spending a year in Thailand training Muay Thai my striking skills have obviously gotten much better. Now that I am back in America for the next two months I am sparring in both my Muay Thai class at synergy-mma as well as in MMA classes at Fairfax Jiu Jitsu and Gold Medal grappling.
What I notice in general about sparring in the United States as opposed to Thailand is the obvious influence that western boxing has had even on people who consider themselves to be good at Muay Thai. Despite calling themselves Muay Thai fighters they definitely fight in a more K-1 style with heavy emphasis on punches with kicks being used as a sort of punctuation or by themselves.
In the MMA sparring classes it’s very interesting to see peoples styles since they are very unorthodox relative to traditional striking styles, with a very low stance and lots of lateral movement. Of course, punches are thrown way more than would be in a Muay Thai fight.
Sparring in America is different because I most definitely see how I have been distinctly influenced in my striking to resemble a more traditional Muay Thai fighter. Some things I notice about myself when I am fighting particularly “Muay Thai which is what I do when sparring with someone unfamiliar which has happened often in the past 2 weeks.”
Coming forward slowly but surely. Instead of a sudden jump forward or lateral movement, I come forward slowly but surely with the expectation of getting hit but trying to just block the strikes with my arms and counter when I see the opportunity. Constantly staying in the pocket.
Kicking back immediately when a punch is thrown or a kick is thrown. One comment I heard fro a sparring partner was that the minute they kicked me I would kick them back and that was something he noticed that I was doing.
Poker face, I have noticed here that whenever anyone gets a good shot in, the partner who got hit usually replies with a “nice one.” After watching my trainers spar in Thailand, particularly in a a serious sparring session or in a fight, whether or not you get hit with the perfect hook or a glancing blow, facial expressions do not change or they are constantly goofy. Don’t show your opponent any weakness.
These are just three of my random observations. I will include some more later later as well as give some more input on how my training is going as well as in regards to training in general.