Thai Boxing Sparring Tactics

3 Thai Boxing Sparring Tactics For Beginners

Thai boxing sparring can be a bit of a mental struggle when you first start. You’ll use a tiny percentage of the techniques you know and you’ll be lucky if you can throw those correctly. After that initial period, Thai boxing sparring should be used to try new tactics and learn from one another.

Here are a few basic principles that should be followed to make yourself less predictable, less of a “soft” target and more opportunistic. In short, you will whack people more and get whacked less yourself. That’s what fighting is all about, right? – whacking stuff.



You’ve done the hard part by making your opponent miss, now capitalise on that great position you’ve just created for yourself by following up on it. When your partner throws a strike and you have evaded it in some way e.g. you stepped back from a roundhouse kick, your attacker is off-balanced and extremely vulnerable to a counter attack. Don’t let this opportunity to counter pass you by; wait until your attacker’s strike has passed its intended target and follow up with a powerful technique.

One example would be to follow a missed roundhouse kick with a roundhouse kick of your own.

“Make him miss, make him pay.”

The same goes for if you block an incoming strike. If you block a kick, touch your foot down to the ground to generate some power and then immediately fire the kick back.

Key: Don’t step back a million miles so you’re unable to move back into range. Make your opponent miss by a millimetre so you’re able to reach your target for the counter.


Using feints takes confidence. Confidence in your basic footwork and fundamental single strikes. Once you have those things to a decent standard, you can then begin to deceive your opponent by making him think you’re doing one thing, and then doing something different. Feinting creates an unpredictability about you.

Being able to “sell” the feint is an art, and needs to be altered slightly for each opponent you face. You’ll have more chance of selling your feint if you use that technique a few times first. If you’re scoring with it, keep doing it. If your partner begins to block or evade then feint that technique and follow up with something different.

Feinting isn’t just about body movement, use your eyes to deceive; look low, kick high being a classic example.



A habit that a lot of new practitioners have is to freeze once they’ve been scored on, as though they are acknowledging the handy work of their opponent. Huge mistake. My first proper trainer in Thailand used to say “I pain, you pain”, roughly translated it means – if your opponent hurts you, give him the same feeling. Immediately.

If the strike doesn’t off balance you then you should immediately strike back while he is still retracting his arm or leg. You may get into a one-for-one situation, and then it comes down to which person has the best balance and control. This is where your basic footwork and strike recovery technique comes into play.

A training drill I use to develop this ability and mentality is to pair up my students and ask them to take it in turns to kick, but each kick must be countered.



You can’t always “win” in sparring, nor should you want to. You’re going to have to get hit a few times when trying out new tactics, but it pays off in the long run. Fighting is where the emphasis should be placed on winning, so it doesn’t matter if your mate smacks you around a bit in the gym.

About Aaron Jahn

Aaron is an active muay Thai fighter and coach from the UK. He holds a BSc (hons) degree in Strength & Conditioning and is currently studying a Sports Therapy Master's degree in Leeds, UK. Aaron has fought over 20 times in Thailand and has spent years training at different muay Thai camps all over the country.
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