Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things to Know About Shadow Boxing Practices

Shadow boxing is named for the practice of boxing against your own shadow: using the position of your shadow to determine your position and to aim your punches. However, shadow boxing goes beyond this one drill to include any practice method in which you hone your martial arts skills without using a bag or shield to strike against.
Shadow Boxing
Like the name implies, traditional shadow boxing entails standing between a light source and a blank, usually light-colored wall. This projects your shadow on the wall, which you can then treat as a dynamic sparring partner. Your shadow will shift when you move, giving you opportunity to practice footwork, distance and timing. When you throw punches---or other strikes if practicing a different martial art---your shadow is a moving target. You can aim specifically for the head, midsection, knee or other high-value area. Oregon-based martial arts instructor Dave Coffman notes that mirrors on a gym wall can provide all the benefits of shadow boxing, with better target resolution.
Solo Sparring
Solo sparring works on the same principal as traditional shadow boxing, but moves the target into your imagination. When solo sparring, a boxer imagines a live opponent in front of him, and responds to the attacks, defenses and movements of that opponent. This kind of drill works especially well for practicing a set game plan for an upcoming fight: the boxer can specifically imagine the techniques his opponent is likely to use and practice responses to those techniques. World-champion kickboxing coach Bill Packer often combined this practice with guided visualization, so his fighters could "experience" defeating their opponents repeatedly prior to a fight.
Combination Drills
Combination drills when shadow boxing involve practicing a set sequence of movements in the air, in order to ingrain the combination as a single reflex. Different martial arts and fight sports practice different combinations. For example, boxers might practice the classic "one-two punch," while tae kwon do stylists would practice a kicking combination. Whatever specific combo is practiced, a fighter will simply fire the combination in the air again and again, training his body to respond to the first strike by throwing up the follow-up components of the combination.
This variation on shadow boxing helps fighters with their mental understanding of combination. It works like other combination practices with one major exception. Rather than visualizing an opponent on which to land a combination, the fighter visualizes an opponent executing the combination. He then responds as if real blows had actually landed. This helps the fighter learn about the subtleties of what a successful strike might do, such as fouling a stance or creating a previously unnoticed opening.

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