Joining the kickboxing world can be a daunting experience because there are various factors you need to consider. If you’re sparring, you need to be sure you are fit enough and have the appropriate protective gear equipped to keep yourself safe.
You probably have a lot of questions about sparring as a beginner. Don’t worry. This article is a collection of sparring tips for beginners, including tips you should take on board to make your journey a success.
Table of Contents
Find the Right Gear
It is imperative to have the correct equipment to keep you and the person you are sparring with safe in any contact sport. This means you need to get the equipment before arranging a sparring session. Here is some of the equipment you need:
- Boxing Gloves: They help protect your hands from damage when punching objects, which is crucial when you take things to the ring.
- Bandages: You may think that boxing gloves eliminate the need for bandages, but bandages are required. They should be wrapped relatively tight but not too tight.
- Mouth Guard: You want to protect your mouth at all costs. If you get a punch or kick to the face, there’s a chance you could lose a tooth or get hurt badly. This will also prevent fractures to the jaw.
- Headgear: Finding the proper headgear will protect you from getting damage to your head during combat or by falling.
- Chest protection: Ensure the chest is protected, especially for females, because the chest area is more sensitive.
- Shin pads: Kickboxing can be tough on various aspects of the body, and the shins are no exception. Make sure to have good shin pads to allow yourself peace of mind that you will be protected.
If you follow the above and get all of the gear, you should be ready to set up your first sparring session. Be sure to check reviews of all the products you buy to ensure they are well-made and sufficient for contact sports. You don’t want the gear falling apart after a few weeks.
Get Lessons First
Lessons may seem like a daunting prospect for some, but they are excellent to dip your toes into the kickboxing waters. Martial arts are not for everyone, but practicing the right skills is an excellent way to hit the ground running.
You’ll probably find many martial arts instructors in your area that specialize in kickboxing. But they might teach it at very different levels, so it’s always best to do your research to make sure you are picking the right person to train you.
Sparring requires you to know a certain amount about kickboxing, meaning that you should know basic punches and kicks and how to defend. Everyone has to start somewhere, but a kickboxing instructor will be able to help you get to the level you need to before stepping foot into the ring.
Lessons will probably come at a cost, but if you look up people who are good at the craft and are well-reviewed, it would be a good way to find out more about kickboxing and how it will benefit you in the long run.
Watch Kickboxing Matches
One of the best ways to get tips for sparring is to watch people sparring. This will give you the best look at how sparring matches are set up and, more importantly, how the competitors adhere to the safety protocols.
Finding kickboxing matches to watch can be challenging, but there are some options out there:
- Search the Internet: Whether they are free or pay-per-view, they should be good enough for you to watch for new techniques, among other things.
- Check your TV listings: Many cable suppliers include many sporting events, including kickboxing. This could be a good way of watching events on your terms.
- Check your local boxing gyms: Chances are that people will be sparring and will allow you to watch. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions from people who have learned the craft.
Always be observant when watching matches. While it may seem difficult to watch sparring in person, with some research, you might find a good network of people that will allow you to watch as they press on with their matches. It’s not uncommon for people to take notes of specific techniques they picked up on.
Set Goals and Build Towards Your First Sparring Session
To succeed in kickboxing, you need a certain level of self-discipline, both mentally and physically. Part of your success will be governed by the way you set goals and stick to them. Here are some tips for planning for success:
- Plan your week: If you’re working full-time and have other commitments, you need to make sure you meet specific goals. To do that, you need to set a designated amount of time every week to allow you to train. Consistency is key.
- Share your schedule with your loved ones: If you’re struggling to coordinate kickboxing and training time, give your loved ones access to the schedule to allow them to plan things around them. This will help keep you focused and stick to your goals.
- Timekeeping is vital in kickboxing: You need to show up to lessons and sparring sessions on time, so sticking to a schedule will allow you to train yourself in time management.
- Maintain a healthy diet: This will allow you to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of protein if you’re training a lot. If in doubt, check with an instructor what you should be eating.
There are countless other self-explanatory ways to build toward goals, but the above are just a few you should take on board to keep yourself in good standing.
Spar With Someone at the Same Level
When it comes to sparring, you’re going to want to find someone with a similar level of experience as yourself. The last thing you want to do is get into the ring with someone who is much more confident at kickboxing.
The best thing you can do is go into the ring with a like-minded individual who understands that you are learning, allowing you to try out some moves you learned but haven’t really tried before. It’s tough, but finding the right balance is essential.
Here are some tips for finding someone on a similar level as you:
- Check your local boxing establishment: There’s a good chance you will find someone on the same level who wants to have their first sparring session too.
- Speak to kickboxing instructors: They could know someone in your situation who will be happy to help. If all else fails, the instructor might help coach you through a mock sparring session.
- Check online: There will be community boards that have people talking about kickboxing. You will probably quickly find someone that way.
- Find someone with a similar body weight: Going up against someone with a bigger build than you could be problematic because their punches or kicks might land much harder than you expect. Take this on board when organizing.
It’s tough when you’re starting out, but you should find yourself in good standing if you follow the above tips.
Try to Predict Your Opponent’s Next Move
A crucial aspect of sparring is predicting your opponent’s next move. This will allow you to get the upper hand when it comes to landing a good hit. If the opponent is at the same level as you, you’ll probably find you are both using the same playbook.
At the beginner level, kickboxing does not have as many highly skilled moves, but that should give you a leg-up if you choose to sign up for a fight. If you can figure out the next move and prepare your defense and follow-up, it will result in a good direction for the rest of the match.
This also means that you should be switching things up as a kickboxer because your opponent might be able to predict your next move. It’s a tricky skill to master and something that is imperative to the success of your match.
When sparring though, the goal isn’t to win, it is to learn. So keep that in mind. You’re not trying to hurt each other.
Always keep your eyes on your partner. The moment you take your eyes off them, they can be planning a move that could land unchecked. You need to pay attention to all aspects of their body to help judge what could be the next move.
Use Combos to Your Advantage
The rule of thumb is that the more combos you try to pull off, the more you land. This is a good tactic that will allow you to keep moving. Moving helps keep some distance between you and your partner, so long as you keep your eyes on your partner at all times.
Here are some other things you can do in between combos to keep yourself in a good position:
- Always keep on the move: If you stop, your partner could be moving and get some hits in even for a moment.
- Keep your hands up at all times: You want to protect your upper body while also being able to hit back, which could be ruined by having your hands down. There’s a stance you should start with and run with the whole match.
- Use combos you know: Trying something new on the fly is good for certain situations, but try to stick with what you have practiced and what you know.
- Remember to breathe: If you don’t concentrate on the match at hand, you might find yourself forgetting to breathe until you’re tired out. This is a no-no.
If you’re in doubt about any combos, research them and try them out. Kickboxing can be difficult, but you shouldn’t have any issues if you have health and safety in mind while trying new things.
Don’t Get Upset When You Get Hit
Kickboxing is a contact sport. That means you should expect to get hit, and the best thing you can do is try to protect yourself. If you come to terms with that fact, you should have no issue if you get hit while kickboxing.
The gloves and other health and safety equipment listed above are there to protect you and your opponent. As long as you and your partner take health and safety seriously, there should be no issue.
Rare occurrences would be possible, like blood on the gums, from your being hit. When it comes to kickboxing, it’s always best to keep the attitude at the door and be understanding of your opponent and their actions.
The worst possible thing to do is to get upset about being hit and hit back a lot harder. There’s an element of understanding when you step into the ring with someone you haven’t sparred with before.
Always be aware of boundaries between yourself and the other party because some moves may be off-limits, and using them could cause problems.
Enjoy the Session
Understandably, many people will go into kickboxing with a tactic that allows them to get the upper hand on the opponent, but it’s not all about winning.
For many, sparring allows them to put new skills in motion and check what works for them and what doesn’t. If you don’t enjoy the session, there’s a good chance you won’t miraculously start enjoying it.
That’s why it’s best to go in with the mindset that you will be learning and trying out new techniques. You’ll probably find that the person competing against you is looking for a fun time to try out some things they learned, too.
Going in with the intention of winning will only set you up for disaster because if the opponent gets the upper hand, you’ll scramble to try and regain some power. Don’t overthink it, just settle down and think about what you want to try and adapt your moves as necessary.
Remember, we’re supposed to be having fun here.
Take Kickboxing to the Next Level
Like anything in life, the more you put into kickboxing, the more you get out of it. It can be a great way to meet new people and a good way to relieve the stress of the week. Taking all of the above on board when setting up a sparring session should allow you to have a great first experience – and beyond.