Fundamentals of Shadowboxing



Shadowboxing is a super versatile and valuable tool that anyone can use to enhance movement, balance, coordination, and improve their training and overall fight game.


The reason I believe it is fundamental to incorporate and include shadowboxing into training is because of how well it establishes a solid foundation source to build upon whatever your MMA goals are. Whether it be solely for fitness and recreation, or fighting performance.


I've mentioned this before in one of my previous posts, but shadowboxing can be awkward and weird in the beginning when you're not used to it. It takes time and proper practice (emphasis on 'proper') to get the hang of it, find your rhythm, and blend in with a good fluid execution of this tool. But the more you do it and stay consistent with it, the more you will evidently harvest its long-lasting rewards.


Shadowboxing is a super versatile and valuable tool that anyone can use to enhance movement, balance, coordination, and improve their training and overall fight game.

Shadowboxing allows you to better explore your natural movement and way of going. You capitalize on your strengths and work to improve and smooth out your deficiencies. It allows you to work on coordination, balance, speed, power, cadence, footwork, technique refinement, mental blueprinting and practice for fight strategies and combinations, and more.


It's a super enhancer for MMA performance, both inside and outside the ring.


Here's a few great ways to make sure shadowboxing is optimizing your training routine and to use it to your fullest potential.


1. DEVELOP A ROUTINE

Be specific with it. Are you just loosening up for training and using it to simply warm up and prime your muscles for training? Or are you approaching it in the mentality that it is to map out fight tactics for an upcoming competition and you are working to formulate a combat plan?


Answering this question will dictate how you go about your shadowboxing.


2. PROPER TECHNIQUE IS ABSOLUTELY KEY

One major component that cannot -and should not- be neglected is technique.


This point can't be emphasized enough. There's multiple reasons for making sure application of accurate technique is implemented. Safety and trying to mitigate injury as much as possible is one of them.


The other reason is because technique ensures the effectiveness of the biomechanics of the movement isn't compromised. It also preserves the integrity of the power, precision, and speed in which you're trying to accomplish. Proper technique won't leak any power and will retain it in a nice, compact form that when unleashed, will unravel a host of damage and effect. You don't want to be "leaking" any efficacy from the execution.


When you're working to get good at shadowboxing and improve and better yourself in it, what you're doing is participating in a catalyst of power. Technique isn't just to ensure you're performing it right, but also because of how it translates out into the actual application portion of your training and fighting. Your form becomes more superior when optimal and accurate technique is applied, and it also makes sure that you can have the upper hand on your opponent -assuming you're fighting.


Weird as it is, I don't compete in MMA fights, but if you "pretend" you're fighting someone or training to fight someone, there's a mental shift that helps you to be more engaged into the practice, you try harder, and it's just a lot more fun that way. You become more interactive in how you try to dodge, attacks, counter-attack your imaginary opponent and it puts your mind into this frame of trying harder to strike and more with more accuracy and proper form.

When you're working to get good at shadowboxing and improve and better yourself in it, what you're doing is participating in a catalyst of power.

I am spending more time on emphasizing on technique because if you can't sharpen this edge in your training well enough, the rest will remain dull. Improving your mechanics and the way you move in executing your punches, kicks, and overall maneuvers will dramatically complement the rest of your fight training in general and make you more overall aware of how you're applying it to training demanded of from your coach and instructors. It also makes certain you have access to a much better experience. Proper technique applied compared to sloppy technique will make or break your ability to progress and improve, and even just enjoy your training in general. So get it down correctly.


3. Eye Placement

Where focus goes, your body follows -or energy flows.


This is also true of anything you're doing physically. Wherever your eye placement is, you'll notice your body -even without you realizing- will orient itself in that direction as well. It's a natural thing we do. If you notice when you're driving a car, and you get momentarily distracted to the left or right to gaze at something outside the window, you look straight ahead again and all it took was those few seconds to shift your car almost out of the lane without realizing it. I've done this plenty.

Where focus goes, your body follows -or energy flows.

Where you're tracking and paving your visuals is important because that's where your body is moving towards. The energy in your body will flow there -most of the time- unless you're purposely trying to momentarily swindle an opponent in the ring to evade his attention falsely while you then fittingly move elsewhere to catch him off guard. This is why shadowboxing is such a good training device -so-to-speak- for practicing eye placement and where you're tracking your concentration.


4. Keep It Easy and Fluid

The point of shadowboxing is to practice, and help you condition and refine technique and movement, etc. You don't want to be straining your body unnecessarily all the time, unless you're purposely making an objective to be working on speed and power.


You want minimum force, and to keep more emphasis on light, quick, fluid motion of your body. Work things into your muscle memory, use it as a way to mentally document or go over drills and combinations, or certain techniques you need to work on. You can feel free to go slower, or a little faster, but don't burn yourself out.

The point of shadowboxing is to practice, and help you condition and refine technique and movement

Practice new combos, feints, kicks, evasions, etc. This is the perfect time to be really working on strategy and motion that seeks to benefit you when you transfer it to the pads or the heavy bag -or a sparring partner, etc.


5. Opportunity to Deconstruct & Reconstruct

I know this one sounds weird, but let me clarify what I mean here.


Shadowboxing allows you to make sense of your body movement, and figure out what sort of biomechanics specifically tailors well to your physiology.


It also allows you to take what you've learned and bring it into the "lab" and dissect it so you can understand it better. In order to better yourself at a skill, you have to understand it which means you want to give yourself time and space to deconstruct it, see all of it in its bits and pieces that make it what it is, and then piece it back together and work with it.


When I learn new moves and combos but I feel awkward and unfamiliar with them, shadowboxing allows me to go as slow as I need for my brain and muscles to have a chance to process them properly and engrave them into my mechanics so that the more I repeat them, the easier they get and I can "record" them into memory and then merge them into a more fluid, and seamless action.

In order to better yourself at a skill, you have to understand it which means you want to give yourself time and space to deconstruct it, see all of it in its bits and pieces that make it what it is, and then piece it back together and work with it.

Shadowboxing is a perfect way to just take certain things to the drawing board and either practice them repeatedly, or perhaps figure out how to alter it slightly in a way that works better for you and your anatomy. You can figure out how to work with certain movements to compensate for lack of length in your limbs, or how to use it to keep people at a distance, or move in on them a lot closer, or perhaps just for fitness purposes, to simply execute it with a lot more finesse.

6. Have Fun With It!

The beautiful thing about shadowboxing is that it can literally be done anywhere at any time.


I've had plenty of times where I do it so I can clear my head, not so much think about strategy and what have you. I simply seek to move my body in sequence to what I've already learned and memorized into my muscle pathways, and tune out the world with some music or a podcast and have at it.


...you can't dispute the amazing benefits of shadowboxing but nor can you ignore its fundamentals and the need to integrate them into your training.

You can also do it outside the confines of the gym, like in your living room, outside, in your garage, at the park, or beach. It's such a great way to simply move your body, practice your skills so you get better and even simply for the purpose of decompressing.


I don't know how many times I've had pent up frustration and anger and have been able to just zone out with shadowboxing and feel so much better after because I was able to channel my emotions into an outward physical expression through a healthy channel/outlet that served to practice my skills while simultaneously letting out whatever stress my body and mind were hoarding and clinging onto.


Overall, you can't dispute the amazing benefits of shadowboxing but nor can you ignore its fundamentals and the need to integrate them into your training. I've heard a lot of coaches stress to their trainees that they need to be spending a lot more time in shadowboxing and this is for a very good reason. Many people don't genuinely enjoy this practice but it is a priceless tool that is sometimes underestimated in itself. Even if you're not training to fight, it can serve as such a huge benefit to your performance inside the gym whether you're on the pads or heavy bag.


We can touch on several more fundamentals of shadowboxing but I think these are some great key takeaways for today.


Get it, like a boss!