Keys to being a Successful Sparring Partner

1)   Relax

Stock Photo Angry Shirtless Boxer Screaming Isolated 400x267 1, Wild West Training Center Carson City

People want to do one of two things when they get punched in the face, cry or get angry. The problem with both methods is that they are emotional responses, and emotional responses inhibit your ability to think clearly. So what is the answer?

If you find yourself in a Thailand gym you will often hear Thai Coaches saying “Sabai’ “Sabai” which translates to relax, relax. Relaxing is beneficial for keeping your wits about you, but also enabling you to respond quickly. When you are upset your body reacts by becoming stiff, when you are calm your body can react quickly and appropriately.

When a negative emotion arises recognize it, but quickly remind yourself to be calm. Simply focus on your breath and tell yourself to relax. I often repeat the words “relax”, over and over, as a sparring mantra.

If you lose control of your emotions, it’s time to take the round off.

“When you get hit that’s when you’ve got to be calm” – cus d’amato

2)   Treat your sparring partners as friends not enemies

The purpose of sparring is to learn not to win. Many times, when egos get involved learning goes out the window. If you are more experienced, help your partner out, try to find the timing for a newly acquired technique. If you are less experienced ask questions. If you haven’t sparred before, introduce yourself.

If you accidently hit your partner with a hard shot, step back and apologize. If you apologize and he hits you back just as hard… it’s time to take the round off.

3)   Agree on Intensity before you start

Generally speaking at Wild West Training Center we spar 50% of max intensity. The lower intensity allows for less injuries, and more sparring days. The more you can spar the better your timing, and overall technique will be. However, in some cases we may spar a little harder only if 1) A fighter has a fight coming up 2) Both participants are experienced and agree to go a little harder ahead of time. Be sure to check with your coach to find out what he expects from you.

What Skills do you need in order to Spar?

In order to Spar you should be familiar with basic footwork, offense, and defense. At Wild West Training Center you must be approved by the head coach and have an understanding of all Essential Skills, depending on the student this may take 8 weeks or more.

Essential Skills Needed to Spar


  • Moving in you Stance Forward, Back, Left and Right while maintaining balance
  • Circling


  • Straight Punches
  • Teeps
  • Hooks
  • Body Kicks
  • Low Kicks
  • Clinch (Hand Positioning and posture)


  • Blocking punches
  • Checking Kicks
  • Parrying Push Kicks
  • Evading Punches
  • Swimming, and basic clinch escape


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