I am doing Muay Thai Sparring. As a man, what is the proper etiquette of sparring against women? Lets keep this question professional and polite to both genders. I want to be generally respectful and honest about this.

I generally do light 10% / air sparring against women (nothing big).

However in one of the classes, they are doing maybe 25%-50% power (or even more). I may rotate against a woman.

To me, I don't like it because rule is:

  • if you "hit a woman too hard, the man will appear bad". And other men in the classroom who tend to showboat, get angry.
  • If a "women beats you up, men still look bad".
  • plus chivalry rule, "don't ever hit a woman". Many dads allow wrestling/grappling between brothers when they are kids. Some dads will never let their brother touch their sister.

Either way, men may lose in some fashion or another. Plus many people I talked to hold back their true will when sparring against women.

Again, airboxing/light sparring against women is fine. Doing BJJ (Jiu Jitsu) is good, since its a non-striking sport. However Muay Thai is different since it can lead to direct bleeding/cuts, which is less likely in BJJ. Let me know your strategies. Something I should bring up with coach, surpised he allowed this in the intermediate class. Open to any good answers.

2 Answers 2


The opinion of others can certainly be important, especially when those 'others' are people you regularly interact with, such as gym regulars. No-one wants to be painted as a bully or a misogynist.

However, 'those people' are not in the ring with you, and - outside of the safety standards which should apply to both sexes - they don't have a right dictate how hard you and your partner should spar.

There are many female fighters who are better than you. There are many who are not. Why not remove sex/gender from the equation and simply treat all sparring partners with respect and due consideration for their wellbeing and their goals?

If you are capable of adapting you efforts to a male who is less capable, less strong and less heavy than you, you are capable of doing the same for a female.

And, if you respect the wishes of a male who wants you to punch harder (within the bounds of safe practice), then you should do the same for a female (or anyone who identifies differently than male).

Sparring is (or should be), and instance of informed consent to violence. Any discomfort you feel sparring a female is your burden to bear. Pay your opponents the respect of treating them equally.

If anyone criticises you for this, stand by your approach and ask them why they think they have the right to place arbitrary limits on a female's physical and mental capabilities. If it becomes a problem, let your trainer know. If they have much experience with female fighters, they will know that females are frequently psychologically stronger than their male counterparts. They often have to work harder to prove themselves and the last thing they want is to be molly-coddled by guys who underestimate their capacities and resilience.

  • 1
    interesting, I've head stories, where person was too hard against female in the BJJ jujutisu, and the other male colleagues gave that person hell of a time during their sparring roll classes in BJJ, there is always some level of revenge/anger
    – mattsmith5
    Dec 19, 2021 at 5:26
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    If someone goes too hard against anyone, they should be reprimanded. The sex/gender of the person shouldn't matter. Dec 19, 2021 at 5:38
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    yeah, I think the point of the story on reddit was, the man was typically used to sparring against other men, so isn't aware how of how hard he was going, obviously wasn't intentional, I think thats why they separate the competitions by gender anyway
    – mattsmith5
    Dec 19, 2021 at 20:07
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    @mattsmith5: And, of course, why there are weight classes. Dec 20, 2021 at 13:06

In my opinion, regardless of what martial art training, gender does not matter; it's skill level and you treat them accordingly. You don't hold back because of gender that doesn't help them at all.

  • haha, you should note my boxing coaches and how they treat different genders
    – mattsmith5
    Dec 27, 2021 at 22:51

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