Useful Tips

Shadow Combat Guide


A study of boxers in the ring showed that during the fight they use imaginative thinking, and not rational. This allows them to recognize specific combat situations and properly respond to them. For the development of imaginative thinking, there is a special exercise - “Shadow Boxing”.

Shadow boxing is a conditional duel with an imaginary rival. The opponent must be approached with all responsibility. Mindlessly cutting air with arms and legs is a waste of time and energy. To benefit from the battle with the shadow, you need to present the whole process in more detail, recreating the sensations of a duel with a real opponent. The image of your opponent should not concede, and may even surpass you in all combat parameters. With such a powerful phantom, you will be forced to act to the limit of your capabilities!

Shadow boxing in the training process takes place after warm-up exercises and warms up fighters before sparring. You can also connect shadow boxing to weight training using dumbbells and various weights on your legs. Consider the weight of the cargo so that your equipment does not suffer!

Better exercises than shadow boxing, for independent trainings no longer come up with. Here you will not need any equipment, nor equipment, nor a sparring partner. You are left alone with your knowledge of technology and rich imagination. For self-monitoring of the effectiveness of actions I advise you to use a mirror. Beginners should start with basic tricks, gradually supplementing with combinations of defense and a series of different strokes.

To solve tactical tasks in a shadow fight, you can simulate fights with various opponents: high, low, knockout, tempovik, lefty, etc. The duration of the fight is usually three standard round. It is advisable to prepare yourself for action in a limited field of view. For tunnel imitations For vision, you can use safety glasses or helmets with masks for contact sports.

What is shadow boxing?

Shadow boxing is when a boxer or fighter moves alone, throwing punches into the air. Shadow fighting is a popular exercise for fighters to hone fighting techniques, increase muscle endurance, is used to warm up or hitch during training, or even to mentally prepare yourself before a fight. Carried out correctly and with the right goals in your head, shadow boxing can improve your boxing technique, strength, power, speed, endurance, rhythm, leg work, attack and defense, and generally boxing skills.

What are the benefits of shadow boxing?

Shadow boxing is incredibly versatile, due to its free style and simplicity. You can practice whatever you want without distractions (a spinning bag, or an opponent trying to hit you), and you can get instant feedback from a mirror, from a trainer or camera. You don’t need any equipment or anyone. Shadow boxing is quite harmless because you are not punished for mistakes. All you need is your imagination and you can practice virtually any movement you want.

The disadvantage of shadow boxing may be that it is not always realistic, like a real battle. There is no one to correct you. Even if you fight with an imaginary opponent, there is a good chance that this imaginary opponent moves in the same way as you would with very great predictability. Fighting with a real opponent is always harder because it is unpredictable and forces you to change your thoughts and react on the fly.

Most boxers do not devote enough time to shadow boxing.

The reason why I say this is because the fighters do not have good movements. They may have good power and good speed, but their movements are neither natural nor relaxed. No matter how athletically impressive they look, they do not look coordinated. I see a guy panting and sniffling, sweating and grunting, just to move his body.

You must not get tired when you fight with a shadow!

Shadow boxing is all about movement. There are no distractions like the target in front of you to hit on it, or the enemy in front of you, which makes you feel uncomfortable. The main focus of shadow boxing is getting used to boxing movements. Nothing more!

Before you throw a thousand hits on a heavy bag, you should first do this in a shadow fight. Your hands need to get used to moving. There are so many guys with weak back muscles because they are so used to hitting the sack every day. The catch is that the bag springs your arm back so your recovery muscles don't train. And then, when you fight with a living opponent, your hands get tired very quickly when you miss.

I also noticed a lack of “calm” among boxers who do not spend enough time on shadow boxing. There is a difference between a fighter who does shadow boxing all the time. He looks very confident, moving and throwing punches, as if it were his usual movements ... It is as natural for him as breathing.

On the other hand, a fighter who does not do shadow boxing always looks as if he should “include” himself in the battle mode. This is a fighter who needs pumping before entering the ring. And then, he goes in there, and he seems a little too "turned on." He moves too much, he acts randomly. He is too excited, anxious, perhaps even too excited. It is clear that it is not natural for him to fight. And I’m quite sure that soon he will be “turned off” in the ring. He gets tired and breaks, and then he enters into a panic mode, because the battle is cool, but it is not natural for him.

Shadow boxing is the practice of fixing the same repetitive boxing movements in muscle memory. Forget about strength or speed or stamina, strategy, sudden movements, etc. This is just a rough exercise to move your body like a boxer. You can get tired in sparring, or on the bag, but you always have the energy to practice movement. This is a constant practice of developing your coordination, which truly makes you a boxer and makes you natural. This is the greatest ability to move your body, which will develop your naturalness, allow you to relax, be agile, balanced, feel comfortable in your own body.

1. You need a goal

The goal is not to show off in front of everyone in the hall, throwing as many punches as you can, and jerking your head back and forth. This is a terrible goal, because of it you get tired for 5 minutes. Which is very bad if you get tired by striking in the air.

Common reasons for shadow boxing:

  • Warm up - move on. Use your legs, move your head, relax your shoulders, throw some punches, move, move, move. Shake the limbs. Repeat! Breathe and set some goal in your movements. Sweating is fine if your goal is to warm up. You need to set your body in motion.
  • Technics - Are you working on a specific hit? Or a defensive movement? Slow down, take your time and look at yourself in the mirror. Instead of working on the whole movement, you can choose 1 or two key points that you will focus on. Once all is well with this, you can move on to another part or try the whole movement in its entirety. Rehearsal is important, but only when you know for sure that you are practicing the right thing. This is where having a coach helps.
  • Coordination - Being able to carry out the movement does not ideally mean that you can perform it NATURALLY. You may have developed your jab technique correctly, but it seems like you can't hit them in a real battle. You can improve this by throwing the jab from different positions. Instead of constantly becoming yourself in the same rack, you can try to throw the jab out of different racks. Also try moving around and throwing the jab at various points in your footwork. Instead of trying to squeeze a jab out of yourself, try to find the position of your body that allows you to feel that this movement is natural.
  • Rhythm - Sometimes solitary movements are good, but you lack unity during the battle. You can work on the rhythm while you do shadow boxing, making many movements. 3-4 strokes, 3-4 slopes, 3-4 steps, repeat. You work on the rhythm, so it’s normal to minimize movements in order to help yourself find the natural rhythm of the “fighting dance” in your body, rather than fully prolonging your strokes and putting 100% of your strength into each movement. Spread some rhythm, focusing on sudden movements!
  • Strategy “Shadow Boxing is ideal for working on key strategic points in the battle.” Maybe you have a bad habit of always stepping back. Or maybe you work dodging under your right hand to punch the left on the body. Or maybe you just got out of sparring, where the guy constantly hit you with jab. Shadow boxing with a strategic way of thinking is just great for developing new strategies to beat your opponent and then develop NEW HABITS to implement these strategies. This is all muscle memory.
  • Hitch - Move slowly, relax, breathe. Think about the sparring you had earlier today. Think of different techniques or strategies of movement that could help you and work on them. You have already finished the hard work for today. It's your time to enjoy the moment, rather than squeeze the last of your strength.

The worst thing you can do to improve technology is to try to work on everything at once at the same time..

2. You need to do it

I would say my biggest complaint about shadow boxing is not how many boxers do it wrong, how much they don't do it at all. If you are a serious fighter, you should do shadow boxing for at least 30 minutes a day. Pros do it for about an hour. Which should not be difficult, considering that you use shadow boxing to warm up / hitch and also when you are improving new techniques.

The main job of shadow boxing would be about 15 minutes of shadow boxing. You do this without interruption. Keep your body in motion and your muscles warmed up. If you get tired too easily, just slow down. Shadow boxing can take place anywhere at any time. You should not have excuses to sit and do nothing in the hall. You can do shadow boxing even when you are watching sparring, or waiting in line for a bag or talking to a friend. Shadow boxing can be your usual “exercise for relaxation.”

When to conduct a shadow fight while you work in the gym:

  • Warm up - Use shadow boxing to warm up and stretch your joints.
  • Technique Exercises - Use shadow boxing to work on new movements, such as punches, defense techniques, or footwork.
  • Improving the condition - Use shadow boxing to improve the stamina of your arms and legs. Work on the private repeating movements that you use in battle.
  • Hitch - Use shadow boxing to complete your training day and stretch the muscles that may have been clogged from your work. Last look at your equipment in the mirror to briefly repeat the techniques that you learned on that day.

Different types of shadow boxing exercises:

  • Alone with his thoughts “Do shadow boxing anywhere, anytime when you're alone.” Try to use a mirror and watch what happens when you change some things. Or try to do shadow boxing in the ring when nobody is there and get used to moving around the ring and touching the ropes.
  • With a slope rope or a slope pear - Do shadow boxing when you practice slopes, squats and rolling, and head movement techniques.
  • Around a heavy bag - Push the bag, it will begin to swing and then move around it, throw blows, but do not touch the bag, let it swing. It’s always good for your attention to have a moving object.
  • With a partner - Do not do shadow boxing alone. Do it with a friend, as if you are fighting each other, except that you keep your distance and do not reach each other with blows. This is a great way to ensure that you maintain your mindfulness and do not develop lazy eyes or bad habits that do not help you in battle.
  • With a trainer - Do a shadow fight under the supervision of a boxing trainer and get feedback from him. Get better right there and see what happens. You can also ask him to move near you, hold his hand in front of you or apply slow strokes to practice work in various situations. If I know that my fighters will meet a left-hander in a fight, I stand in the left-handed stance in front of them and put forward my outstretched right hand to allow them to get used to moving around the left-handed jab.

3. You need feedback

This is the most important reason for training in the gym and the presence of a boxing trainer. You need a way to know if what you are doing is good. You need a way to criticize yourself and look for opportunities to improve. It is very difficult to get better if the only feedback you receive is you yourself.

How to get feedback during a shadow fight:

  • TRAINER AVAILABILITY - The presence of a coach provides control over your movements and he will give advice here and there. Actually, there is no substitute for having the help of someone who is more experienced than you. Even if you don’t have a mirror, you can have a boxer (preferably a more experienced one) to see and correct what he sees.
  • ANDUSE THE MIRROR - Look at how you look in the mirror and see if you can find aspects for improvement. It also helps to compare how you look with other boxers in the gym. See how certain aspects of their technique are different from yours.
  • PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU FEEL “If something seems too complicated, maybe you're doing it wrong.” Your shoulders shouldn't hurt when you hit a hook. Your back should not hurt when you do a bias. You must not lose balance when you move. If you get tired of shadow boxing, how can you expect high endurance from yourself during a highly stressful battle with the enemy?

4. You need to think

This should be the rule that you apply every minute of training. Never let the brain die. THINK! Watch your back. See if you can spot your weaknesses before your opponent does.

What to think about during shadow boxing:

  • WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? - What are you focused on? If it's speed, then work on speed. If this is a strategy, work on a strategy. Choose one and focus on it. One at a time.
  • WHERE IS THE PROBLEM? - This is the hardest part of learning. It is very difficult to improve something if you do not know what the problem is. Once again, that’s why you need to work with coaches and people who are more experienced than you.
  • TRY SOMETHING NEW - Instead of throwing the same jab every day, try to find new ways to change it. At first you try to beat him from different positions. Then you can try it with different strengths of the muscles used (shoulders and latissimus). You can try it in increments of 1 inch, and 3 inches. Applying this theory in each case to each technique will lead you very far! Paying attention to more experienced fighters you can find a hint, for example, where can you adjust your technique.

Frequently asked questions about shadow boxing:

  1. Can I do shadow boxing with weights or gloves? - I do not recommend this. This distracts the shadow box from the correctness of the exercise. If you want to add resistance, then training will become resistance training. And even then, the weights do not help your impact speed / force very much, because they pull your hands in gravity, and not in the direction in which your blows fly. It can be a good general strengthening exercise, and even then, professionals who do shadow boxing with weights do it at a VERY LOW speed. High speed shadow boxing can injure your joints!
  2. Do I have to fight with the shadow like a lefty? “No, that is not necessary.” Maybe you can fool around from time to time, like a lefty, but this is not necessary, as part of your regular boxing training. In my opinion, if you want to try something new, strange, or different ... you should try something new from your usual rack. This makes more sense to me than using another rack and doing the same things that you always did.

Round 1: Moves

Move on. A static fighter is a good target, and this is true for both a sports fight and a street fight. Let your movements in the fight not be particularly diverse (go ahead and beat the villain), but it’s worth training mobility. Maneuver, avoiding unstable positions, crossed or straight legs. Follow the "weight distribution", the position of the body and arms in your fighting stance. Shift to the flank unexpectedly, tear the rhythm of the battle, add slopes and dives. Try to drastically reduce the distance with an imaginary goal, or, conversely, tear it apart by retreating.

Round 2: practice tricks

Every day, choose a new technique and practice it. Yesterday you honed the left line. Сегодня — левый сбоку. Завтра у тебя в планах правый прямой. А еще в запасе: левый сбоку — с места, на дальней, средней и ближней дистанции, с уклоном влево, чтобы «зарядить» плечо, на шаге вперед левой ногой, на шаге правой, на скачке, на отходе… В общем, пока тебе этого за глаза хватит.

Раунд 3: комбинации

Возьми пару-тройку любимых комбинаций — и вперед. For example: the right line is the left side, the left line is the right line, the left side is the right line with the foot in the groin. Hit from a place, in movement, ahead of schedule, like a counterattack. Hone combinations in turn, then randomly, work through the transitions between them.

Round 4: rapprochement in the attack

Imagine that your opponent is a long-armed fighter. Maybe it's Vladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis or Alexander Emelianenko. You need to go into the middle distance in a hard exchange of blows, otherwise you do not reach the target. Shift sharply, removing your head and at the same time tear off the distance. Your legs are bent, your hind leg is pushing you. Come in with a kick, with a slope, on a dive. Close yourself tightly, protect your head with elbow supports and immediately break through a tough series. Go back to defense again.

Round 5: long-distance combat

You fight with Manny Pacquiao, Mike Zambidis or (God forbid, of course) with young Mike Tyson. Do not let these guys in the middle and near range! He struck the left - and immediately tore the distance. Shift in circles on the flanks, all the time beware of rapprochement with the opponent's right hand. Short series - and again the gap in distance. Work on the floors: a deuce in the head - with your foot in the groin - displacement in a circle to the right. He deceived him with a straight left - struck with his foot in the groin - with a right straight to the head on the retreat. And so on.

Round 6: counterattacks

This is a really high level of combat training. You provoke the enemy, cause him to break through what you need ... and then you hit against the contrary. Tough and harsh. Or you struck the top floor, and when he, having defended himself, counterattacks you - you go down and go to your feet.

Think about how powerfully you develop visualization skills! And it has a very wide range of applications. This is ideomotor training, and self-programming, and goal-setting.

Round 7: power shots - penetrating power strikes

Punch every blow as if it were the last. Put the whole body, do not save power. This training is of direct practical importance for self-defense. In a fight, you are unlikely to conduct a “reconnaissance” with a jab, beat a series of low kicks in order to deprive the opponent of mobility by the third round. You need to cut it down, and the sooner the better.

Round 8: Continuous Strikes

Such attacks are characteristic of boxing, but may be useful for self-defense. The task here is, firstly, to rest after the penetration, and secondly - to make movements with the body, legs and shoulders, which are necessary in battle. Blows can not be applied, but as if to continuously indicate their initiating phase - the movement of the shoulders and hips. It is continuous. Let go of your consciousness, let the body independently impose combat movements.

Round 9: one-way kicks

This is a very useful sporting skill - the ability to beat, moving to the flank. More often than not, right-handed punches when shifting to the left are not particularly difficult, and hitting going to the right is a little more difficult. So work it out. You are not a martial artist and you do not need such specific things? Well, imagine that you are fighting a battle with two tipsy opponents. Will you stand still?

Round 10: Melee

It’s clear that it’s problematic to develop the technique of fighting in the shadow battle mode, but there is no such close combat as in boxing. And in mixed martial arts, close combat is most often either a clinch or a “takedown” and a fight on the ground. However, the situations are different - leave the blows and at close range. Work by twisting the hull, be as blocked as possible. Beat the explosive series of side, uppercuts, knees and elbows. Stay as stable as possible in a low stance and be ready to fight. Shift sharply to the flank and again cling to the "invisible enemy." Look how Mike Tyson fought - how he doubled the blows on the same side, how he worked as a corps. How to bite behind the ears. And what if we talk about self-defense, then all means are good!

Round 12: shadow boxing

Do everything you can. Before you is a dangerous prepared enemy, and you must knock him out. Lead a battle with him using everything you can. Beat the crown series, tear the distance, go to the clinch, to the fight. Clearly imagine what the enemy is doing and develop your series. Play in your mind different scenarios. Rebuild the tactics and manner of warfare. This is your work.

Shadow boxing will not replace your sparring, but it will really help you improve your fighting skills. Use it.