The term Shadow boxing is used to describe the act of mimicking a fighting style by punching the air around you. Many fighters use it as a technique to practice their combat skills, especially before they begin training, and sometimes after they finish.
A fighter may use the technique to acclimatize their muscles and mind-set before a fight, or more generally to practice at a skill they are developing.
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The beauty of it is in the simplicity of its execution. You don’t need any equipment; you don’t need others to guide you. It is almost completely void of danger and strenuousness.
However, it can be very useful for familiarizing yourself with new moves. Furthermore, there are no restrictions on the range of techniques which you can practice.
How to Do It?
If a dedicated fighter is to include the move in his training, he will often conduct his movements to the end of a particular purpose. Most people have the idea that shadow boxing is more of an incoherent warm-up rather than the real thing. There are, however, many good workouts out there to improve on certain aspects of your fighting style. I have explained a few here.
First of all, you can use it to practice your movement. This is all about agility. Concentrate on your feet movements and maneuvering your stance around the ring. Practice advancing on your opponent as well as retreating, pivoting and side stepping. In this way you can develop your movements to the point where they are speedy and calculated. You may additionally want to improve on preserving your T Frame as you move.
Alternatively, you may be seeking to improve your punch-throwing abilities, for which there are a number of suitable exercises. The first of these concentrates on the combinations. If you are a beginner, you can start out by repeating a simple jab over a set amount of time. As you grow more adept you could use the technique to perfect more complicated combinations. By result of simple mechanical repetition the combinations will become something like second nature to you.
The second exercise of this category focuses more attentively on the technique of your punches. It involves shadow boxing in slow motion, which will let you hone in on the specifics of your moves. Pay attention to small but all important details: is your stance correct? Are your feet in the right place? Is your weight distributed correctly?
Conversely, you could focus on the speed of your punches. Challenge yourself to throw so many technically accurate punches in, say, a few minutes. You could also use this technique to develop your stamina, by seeing how long you can keep throwing punches at the fastest rate possible.
You can self-evaluate your body movement and fighting style by shadow boxing your reflection. This might seem ridiculous, but it might help you to see what your opponent will see when he faces you. Otherwise, you can combine the above shadowboxing techniques by using your imagination to conjure up an imaginary opponent. This will act as an intermediary step to performing what you have practiced in the ring during a real fight.
Lastly, you could practice shadowboxing with light weights in your grip. If done correctly, this exercise will help you to become accustomed to the weight of your gloves, and may even improve the power of your punches.
When Can You Do It?
You can really use it whenever you feel like it. It has an inherently adaptable nature that can be suited to loads of different situations. You may wish to simply use it as a warm up or cool down technique, or you may wish to incorporate it heavily into your training regime.
It is especially useful if you are lacking in equipment, such as a punch bag. In the end, the more often you shadow box, the more likely it is that your technique will improve.
Since you can do it whenever, wherever you want, with no equipment and no-one to assist you, the restrictions of its use are extremely limited.
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7 Tips To Keep In Mind:
1. Above all, shadow boxing is good for developing the way you move around the ring. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that movement is key. Make use of the floor space you have to integrate more accurate and rapid footwork into your fighting style. If necessary, make use of mirrors to monitor more precisely your body movement.
2. Work your imagination to build a ghostly opponent for you to face. Your time spent practicing will be more lucrative if you can convince yourself that you are up against a genuine threat.
3. Go above the speed that you expect of yourself. If you are throwing punches at a faster rate than you would do in a real fight, you will eventually mislead yourself into being quicker in the ring.
4. On a similar note, do not mislead yourself into learning to miss your target. I mean by this that you should aim for your imaginary adversary, but should not aim beyond him. If his ribs are less than an arm length in front of you, don’t go punching through him to uppercut someone behind him. Stop your punch at the point where you perceive him to be.
5. The last exercise that I listed above is incredibly efficient for both improving your upper-body strength and your speed. The weights don’t have to be heavy for you to notice an immediate improvement. In fact, even experienced boxers take it easy if they are practicing with weights.
6. Change it up a bit. Let your imagination run further away from you by changing the circumstances of your fight from round to round. This way you cover all the techniques and tactics that you will need, for when you are winning or loosing a fight.
7. Learn from the best. Watch the boxers you wish to emulate and emulate them in shadowboxing. This could mean watching boxing on TV or copying your peers at the gym.
Is practicing with weights really a good idea?
As I have mentioned above, doing so with very light weights can prove to be beneficial. However, you should be careful not to be too ambitious in this exercise, or else you may do yourself some damage. I stress that you should use light weights, and box slowly.
Is it good for a Southpaw?
For the most part, no. You will not greatly benefit from systematic shadow boxing as a southpaw. Messing around with it a little couldn’t hurt, but you might take more from shadowboxing if you tried out different stances.
If done correctly, it can provide you with a means by which you can relatively easily develop your skills. It is a method which is flexible, resourceful and can be fun.