When our body anticipates pain, our mind becomes fearful.
Fear can make us become panicked and lose focus, especially in a fight situation.
So, what are the best ways to control your fear when you’re considering full-contact training?
Building confidence and control
Sparring with someone you know a trust is a great way to start full-contact training. Discuss any initial concerns you might have before you start. Begin with slow, light shots whilst focusing on movement. You can build tempo and power over several training sessions, allowing you to confidently develop your understanding of distance, defence, and counter punching.
If you jump straight into the ring with someone you don’t know, there’s a chance they will underestimate your level and throw some big shots. This isn’t progressive if you’re suffering from a lack of confidence.
Once you’ve become accustomed to being in the ring, throwing punches and taking some light shots, you should consider changing your sparring partner. Each person you spar with will be better and worse at certain things - it’s up to you to work it out.
Defence and counter
Perfecting your defence and knowing how to react under your opponent’s attack is just as important as throwing punches. The best fighters attack and defend with ease, slipping easily out of their adversary’s range to get back onto the front foot.
Defence is essentially awareness. It’s a combination of understanding range, knowing when to block and where to move.
Practice standing in the ring with your partner, get them to throw some light shots and move forward in attack. All you need to practice is ducking and slipping out of the way, without returning any punches. This will help your movement and posture in defence. It will also help you analyse the best times to throw counters and look for openings without full-contact.
Learn to ride your opponent’s punches. Riding a punch or kick means that you still get hit, but you move with the impact, taking the sting out of the shot. This technique should only be used once you’re confident in establishing distance with different sparring partners.
Making your opponent miss, or riding their shots, not only frustrates them but takes up a lot more of their energy, meaning they are more likely to drop their guard and leave an opening for a counter shot.
Our head is the most fragile and sensitive part of our body in fighting terms. A blow to the head can easily affect your vision and balance. Head guards will cushion the impact of punches and kicks, helping us to fight with more focus and confidence.
Make sure you choose a head guard that fits your head properly; one that doesn’t move or slide around. A head guard that is too big will reduce your peripheral vision, meaning there’s a risk you won’t see incoming shots.
Hearing can also affect your balance, so it’s important you have a guard with holes tailored to your ears.
A mouthguard protects your teeth and jaw, whilst reducing the risk of mouth and lip lacerations. It’s cheap, and you should never consider full-contact without one. The mouthguard protects and cushions all those sensitive parts of your mouth like teeth and gums, meaning little to no pain during contact.
Using bigger, more padded gloves also reduce the intensity of impact. The heavier your gloves are, the more padded they will be. However, keep in mind that heavier gloves will reduce your hand speed. For women, a sparring glove should be over 14 oz, for men over 16oz. If you are over 14 stone, you can consider 18oz gloves. Be sure to also apply your wraps before any sparring.
If you practice Muay Thai or MMA, you often use your legs to kick and block. Shin protection covers your lower legs and feet, reducing the chances of bruising and soreness. They also soften shots to the body and head.