One of the keys to preventing head injuries and getting concussions in Muay Thai is to have a good defense. If you have a good defense it will allow you to survive five rounds with a hard hitting opponent, without being knocked unconscious.
A key element of a good defense is your Muay Thai guard. Your guard is going to protect you from incoming punches, elbows, head kicks, and knees to the face. You don’t have to have a fancy guard for it to be effective. By keeping your hands up in front of your face, you will naturally block a lot of incoming attacks.
In order for your Muay Thai guard to be effective you need to be able to trust your guard. When I say trust your guard, I am essentially saying you need to know that you can absorb a lot of damage, without worrying about getting hurt.
To develop confidence in your guard it is necessary to put in the hours sparring with different guys. When you are used to blocking hard shots to the head, you won’t panic when you face someone who is trying to knock you out. Knowing that your guard can absorb hard hitting shots will prevent you from worrying about whether or not your defense is going to hold up.
Sparring Drill: Trusting your Guard
This drill is designed to help you develop confidence in your guard and block incoming punches.
*Special thanks to Dane Sky for helping me make this video
One way you can develop confidence in your guard is through drilling. By drilling offense and defense with a partner, you can get used to getting hit in a controlled environment. Once you start getting used to getting hit, you will start to realize how effective a good guard can really be.
The key to this drill is to slowly increase your pace. The purpose of the drill is to help your partner develop confidence in his guard, not to actually try and knock him out. Once you start building confidence in your guard you can increase the pace and work on different combinations.
It is important to try and keep your eyes open when you are being hit. This will help counter the natural reflex you have to ‘flinch’ whenever a strike is coming at you. By keeping your eyes open you will be able to counter your opponent and look for openings in their game.
Spar with Different Opponents
To develop a diverse game you need to spar with a range of opponents. Sparring with fighters who have different styles and experience levels will help you prepare for any situation you might encounter. You should always try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and spar with guys who give you trouble.
The only way you will develop true confidence in your Muay Thai abilities is to get experience dealing with different types of fighters. Once you are used to facing every type of fighter out there, you won’t be phased when you are facing someone new in front of you.