The face can be a huge give away when trying to establish whether your opponent is tired, frustrated, angry or hurt. You can even tell whether someone is already beaten based on their facial expression.
If you can tell this by someone else’s face than that means it can also be told by your own. It is important to learn how to hide your emotions from your opponent in order to avoid giving them any insight into how you’re feeling and giving them that physiological edge.
A confident fighter is a dangerous one and any sign of weakness on your part can swing the fight more in their favour.
I remember watching a fight in Lumpinee stadium between Panomrunglek Kiatmoo9 and another Thai fighter. In round four Panomrunglek was caught flush with a huge head kick which you actually heard smash against his face. I thought is was going to be one of those knock outs where the fighter crumbles to the floor like a building taken down by a controlled explosion.
However, he didn’t flinch or even take a step back, in fact he didn’t even acknowledge the kick; It was as almost if it didn’t happen. Don’t forget Muay Thai scoring places significant emphasis on effect, so any acknowledgement of this could swing the fight in an opponents favour.
Nearly all the Thais I have fought or have watched fight seem to keep their facial expression mutual and this ability is just as important as any punch or kick you want to master.
As with all your techniques this is first practiced in the gym. Now I don’t mean let someone smash you in the face to see if you can take it or not, what I mean is if you are on the pads for example and you are gasping for air, don’t put a face on that suggests that you could break down into tears at any stage.
Try not to show anything, if you want to fall to pieces in-between rounds fair enough as long as can get your composure back and become poker faced again before the next round starts.
Sparring is another time where you can perfect this trait. There are bound to be times when you get caught with something that really annoys you, again try to keep your face expressionless, don’t give your partner any clue as to how you’re feeling. In a real fight this could be the green light needed for your opponent to come forward and gain the upper hand.
You want to try to portray yourself as a confident, strong and fit fighter. Even if you don’t feel like that at the time, it’s important that you try and give off that illusion in the ring.
If you are able to master this skill in training and apply it in the ring, half of the battle will already be won.
Remember fighting is 70% psychological so if you can dent your opponents confidence by giving the demeanour that you never tire, you’re never hurt and never phased then you are on the right path to victory.