Re: Worst Day Sparring: Boxing, Muay Thai, Grappling?
This is kinda a weird question. As the other fellas have mentioned it depends on who you’re sparring and almost more importantly where you’re sparring. I imagine a BJJ spar in Rio is very different to a BJJ spar in Malta as is an MT spar in LA is different to an MT spar Bangkok.
On the thread alot of people are talking about ruff house MT spars with nasty biting leg kicks and I admit MT spars in the west can be bruising encounters especially when things get a bit "overheated", but if things get that far on a regular basis something's wrong . When you've got more chance of getting injured than advancing your skills I struggle to see the benefits. Wars while sparring have more to do with well meaning but often misinformed coaches & weekend warriors than the actual style of MT itself.
This is what I mean about where you spar also being key to how intense it is. In the west there is a clear lack of experience and depth in most MT gyms, so your sparring is gonna suffer. It's not uncommon to get guys of very differing experience levels and weight classes sparring each other , this is where you tend to see the full on wars most have already mentioned as well as bags of injuries. Many gyms have an over macho mentality often built on well worn out & inaccurate myths about "the brutal and tough nature of Muay Thai in Thailand". In gyms like this heavy sparring is encouraged to mimic the ring, but IMO this does nothing other than to break down the body giving you inquires that are carried and recur long into your career. Either way neither of the above are really how it should and is intended to be done. It just serves individual egos not the sport, I've had more injuries from sparring in the west than I ever had from fighting and training in Thailand.
In Thailand, MT is a serious business. You have to remember the sport exists solely to give fighters, trainers, promoters and bookies a living, that’s it. A fighter needs to fight to earn his crust & place in the gym, so any injuries picked up in training keep him out of the ring & not feeding his family. They never spar hard with all weapons. The only heavy sparring that's done is 3 times a week just with hands (16oz gloves & no headgear) and it can get pretty intense. The other sparring using knees & feet etc. is very controlled, minimal contact with the emphasis on speed, techniques & feints. This is usually done with no protective equipment on the hands, shins or balls and is very intense interms of concentration & focus. The final part of sparring, the clinch and knee work is where most freak incidents seem to happen & is the most physically demanding and exhausting. All it takes for you to pick up a bruised rib that'll put you out for 6 weeks is to get your timing wrong and move into an oncoming lightly thrown straight knee, ouch.
In answer to the TS's question, for me in the west a heavy contact MT sparring session using all weapons is way more punishing in my experience than a heavy boxing spar (I’ve been a sparring partner for a WBA title challenger). I’m not saying boxing sparring ain’t punishing on the body, but a full on MT spar is ruff, more areas get banged up. I can’t even remember the amount of times I used to go to work hobbling on one leg or out of action cos of bruised ribs, or nursing heavy swelling on the face from some nasty kicks etc. etc.. The absolute toughest kind of sparring I’ve ever done is clinch and knee work rotating off Thais in Thailand when I first moved there. Painful, exhausting and humiliating. It can crush your ego leaving you battered and empty. I can't really comment on BJJ or wrestling, never done it, but I can imagine on the ground the fine line between a comfortable spar and some serious sprains and tears is a wafer thin.