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Tag Archives: female sparring

Natalie Fuz asked us if we could organize a non-Tuesday sparring circle for her and some of her girls, and it seems that this is just what many of those who haven’t been able to come regularly might be interested in. Sunday was the best day, and we asked around for places that might want to host us, and once again Greg came through and said that he would open up the gym for us for a few hours. Much thanks to him.  Natalie says she can bring 3-5 women with her and several others have said that they can come as well.

For those that don’t know Natalie – and only recently have I gotten to know her – she’s a long time female muay thai fighter, coach and Kru, and is formerly of Five Points having just left to start her own gym which is now in the works. In fact just this Summer she fought Julie Kitchen, who is probably now considered the best female muay thai fighter in the world (Germaine de Randamie has retired from muay thai), for the third time.  It will be cool to get in the ring with her, and the chance to mix with other Five Points fighters really seems to embody what the sparring circle is about: bringing the diverse New York women of muay thai together, to broaden the community and open up the opportunity to share sparring experiences and techniques beyond any particular gym.

Natalie said that her ideal times were between 10 and 2, so we were thinking of meeting up at 12:30 at Sweet Science, and maybe in the ring at 1:00. The time is not locked in just yet, so what is the most convenient for you? Feel free to bring friends, and as usual for the circle the cost is free.

Any maybe some of us can head out for a Thai food late brunch afterwards. Any suggestions? Email me at sylvie@earthlink.net or on message me on Facebook.

If you missed it, I’ve been posting parts of an interview I did with Natalie, the first of which is here.

 A little post-Labor Day sparring was just the way to forget the imminent end of summer.  It was a solid turn out and the energy was good and each of us spent a lot of time in the ring – at one point we even had three sets sparring at once(!)  Heather returned after an injury, Sarah was back with Chris and we were all introduced to Kaori, a (125 lb) boxer from Sweet Science, who was a wonderful addition to the group and a really good partner in the ring.

My personal experience was, unfortunately, flavored by a negative attitude about myself, which was definitely a poor influence on my overall performance in the ring.  I know that I do best when I have a few things to focus on and, for whatever reason, I failed to focus myself.  As a result I did not make much progress of feel good about my technique, but regardless of this, I felt a great deal of support from the other women in the group and I know that just being there was good for me.  These frustrating days are definitely useful exercises in discovering where most work needs to be done or what foundational elements are weak.  After we’d all stepped out of the ring for the night, Chris took a minute to go over some footwork with me, and Greg offered sound advice on parrying and slipping, which has been motivation for me to strengthen my basics in the coming week.

For all of you thinking about coming next week, Lisa West (100 lbs Golden Gloves competitor) will return; Kaori says she enjoyed herself and hopes to return as much as her work allows ; Eliana will be back from her business trip (after having experienced a class with Master Toddy in Vegas); Laurie’s fight at Friday Night Fights on the 25th will be imminent; and Alanna and Heather will be getting ready for fights in October.  It should be a great time!

p.s. As we didn’t get much feedback on the experiment of filming our rounds, and it wasn’t clear that anyone loved it we decided to shelve the idea until another time. If you have any thoughts on how it went for you, please let us know.

 

[Sparring Circle member Peelo offers some of her views on the importance of female sparring, and sparring in general. Peelo was my first opponent, as we met and fought at the WKA in Virginia – where she won her division. She is currently preparing for her third fight.]

I have been to quite a few gyms and have had different experiences at all of them, sometimes positive or negative.

All sparring is good because it gets you used to fighting different people and styles. But we do fight women and yes I agree that we should spar women. Unfortunately in most gyms there are not enough girls of different sizes. This is why i enjoy attending the sparring circle because i get an opportunity to spar with different girls of different levels and sizes. I feel more prepared and confident for my next fight because I know that I am used to the power and technique of a variety of female opponents.

I believe females should spar their male counterparts though and not discount the benefits because you can hit harder without as much guilt. Some people I have spoken to expressed concerns that girls all getting together from different gyms would come with attitudes and I have in the past sometimes experienced mild cattiness from girls at different gyms but I have not found that in this particular gathering. But if you want to fight and/ or have realistic sparring then you should spar with other girls.

Sometimes I find that some girls don’t want to go as hard as me or if they are smaller or less experienced I feel guilty if I hit them hard. But I try to be as communicative as possible and I try to remember when I first started sparring and the great people that were there that encouraged me and boosted my ego when I needed it. So far this has worked for me.

There is no substitute for being around other women. You are encouraged, inspired and motivated to keep training in ways that your male counterparts won’t be able to. I always try to encourage other girls to fight and to get more ladies out into the sport because that is the only way we can all get better, together.

 

There are benefits to sparring with men:  in general, men are larger than the women they spar, giving women the challenge of going against taller, heavier opponents; this also allows women to strike with a greater percentage of full force, as it will not impact a larger opponent as much as it would someone her own size and, in the same vein, men might hit back harder than a woman might expect or otherwise experience. 

But there are drawbacks as well.  Always having a larger opponent is not going to “toughen” women in a way that is necessary for success.  Muhammad Ali did not consistently spar men much larger than himself; Buakaw is not trading blows with larger opponents.  Personally, at my size, it is difficult to find someone to match me in stature and weight, but consistently being outsized can be frustrating and discouraging – always being overpowered and outreached.  There is also an unfair assumption that men are always at an advantage over women, that sparring with any man is more beneficial than a woman.  This assumes that any man knows more, is stronger, has more technique, and is tougher than any female counterpart.  I disagree.  I’ve sparred with men who have no idea whatever of what they’re doing.  Further, men will often (and maybe this is due to my size and is not universal to sparring with women) act the part of a punching bag and coach, as if all I need is to “work it out” and be encouraged to keep punching without ever hitting back, crashing through my windows, or punishing me for sloppy strikes or bad decisions.  This is more insulting than constructive.  Finally, men and women actually do not fight the same.  Training counters and strategy with a man who is not your size does little to prepare one for trading blows with someone who will not strike, think, move, or strategize in the same manner.  (After watching the fight between Carano and Cyborg, my husband and I postulated that the defeat was a matter of not having trained hard enough, or at least not right.  We considered the possibility of Gina having likely sparred with a great number of men – giving her a taste for power – but I suspect nobody charged her the way Cyborg did in the fight.  I don’t know that a man would train with Carano like this, rushing her, pummeling her.)

All this is not intended to be a “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” argument for the disparity among the sexes.  Rather, it is intended to point out that the assumption made by so many gyms that a woman must spar with men in order to be great is fallacious.  I am not advocating for the abolishment of intersex sparring.  I love sparring men and I have great admiration for my male sparring partners.   I know exactly what I learn from each of them.  What I am arguing is that sparring with women is equally important.  After all, we fight women.  When you step into the ring with a woman and look her in the eye, there is something to be said for having experienced this – many times – before.  And when you spar with men, you are often training with a built-in excuse for why you didn’t do well, or why you couldn’t overcome the various problems one inevitably encounters, with any sparring partner.  When I spar with my male partner, de Jesus, I get incredibly frustrated that I cannot defeat him.  When I spar Nicole Ruiz, who is de Jesus’ same size, I am inspired and encouraged that, though I’m getting my ass kicked, I can aspire to be like her, to be calm and fluid and strong.  I see her qualities, not her advantages.  In the 6 weeks of sparring with women at the NYFSC, I have witnessed countless examples of why a female opponent, my size or not, is an invaluable lesson in learning to fight and an under-used tool in female training.