Shadowboxing is one of the most important skills to learn, especially when you are a beginner, and especially now that most folks lack training partners.
For some, it can be easy to dismiss shadowboxing as a fruitless endeavor (plus, it kinda looks silly), so I’m first going to go over the benefits as to why you should shadowbox and then show you a nice 5-minute shadowboxing workout.
Shadowboxing is the best combination of a physical and mental warmup you can do. Shadowboxing is the activity that most resembles fighting and has the least amount of impact, meaning it’s the closest possible thing you can do to fighting while warming yourself up so you don’t get injured and so that you can make the most of your training ahead.
Speaking of being ready for the training ahead, you don't just need your body to be ready - you also need your mind to be prepared. How tuned in your mind is will determine how tuned in your body is.
Think of all the slow starters that you see in all combat sports, be it boxing, Muay Thai or MMA. Some of these fighters are slow to start because it takes them a while to mentally get into the groove of things. It’s not because they lacke a physical warm up, it’s because they are not yet truly in the zone.
If you’re a slow starter, that means more opportunity for the opponent to capitalize and get shots in. You want to be ready to go, ready to fight to the best of your ability and utilize all of your skills right from the opening bell.
The perfect example of this, love him or hate him, is Conor McGregor. Conor is completely dialed in from the opening bell: case in point is his crisp 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo.
Shadowboxing is a way for you to visualize and mentally get yourself into the mind frame of a fight.
Now that you understand the benefits of shadowboxing, let’s get into how it’s done:
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SHADOWBOXING & BALANCE
One of the most important points to keep in mind when working on your shadowboxing is your balance.
It's easy to forget about balance when you’re blasting heavy bags or pads. Yet balance is one of the most crucial aspects of all fighting. Any time your balance is off means that you will be vulnerable. Peter Aerts capitalized on pushes in order to off-balance his opponents and land head kicks repeatedly against them.
However, you must understand that just because you’re not losing balance doesn’t mean that you are balanced. What you are looking for is complete stability. If you are unstable or shaky in any way, your techniques will be much slower and far less powerful because your kinetic chain is being disrupted. Not only will you produce less power, you will also amplify your opponent’s power.
Now, a portion of our ability to take a punch is genetic and out of our control. However, there is still a part that is: your positioning.
If you are off-balanced, you will not be able to take as powerful a shot because your body will not be able to disperse the energy taken from the shot effectively. But even if you don’t believe that you’ll take more damage, judges and the audience will also view that as you taking more damage, anyway.
Imagine yourself stumbling around even though you were hit by a punch that was weak. Even if you are not hurt, it still looks bad.
So how do you make sure that your balance is strong? By repeatedly challenging your balance. It’s the same principle of progressive overload that you use for strength and conditioning. Push your body to it’s limit, your body adapts, then push to a new limit. Shadowbox, stand on one leg, go slacklining, go surfing, etc. Put your body in positions where your balance is compromised and practice balancing yourself.
As a beginner, it is crucial for you to set a strong foundation of shadowboxing so that you can take it into the future. Shadowboxing is simply one of the most effective tools you can use in your training in order to improve your skills in Muay Thai.
That is why every single beginner should make sure to do it regularly. If you want to be a master of Muay Thai, it has to be done.
Plus, it’s just a fun thing you can do by yourself any time and any place. So just shadowbox.
Join our "Muay Thai Mondays" email newsletter for the latest updates on new videos, special events and everything Muay Thai!