MMA Training Tip – Shadowboxing (Mixing things up)


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Shadow fighting –which I call it in MMA since a lot more is practiced other than punching– is a vital, although often underused, drill for improving a fighter’s punching, kicking and overall fighting skill sets. By incorporating several shadow fighting rounds in my striking workouts, I give myself the time to sharper my favourite weapons and to develop my newest technical movements.

Many fighters opt to skip the process of shadow fighting, jumping directly into sparring or heavy bag work instead. Perhaps they find it repetitive and boring and not very useful for anything other than breaking a sweat. I definitely agree that punching into mid-air over and over again can be boring; especially if a fighter performs the drill using the same approach every single time they do it. The key to keeping shadow fighting fresh and exciting is to constantly mix up things up. Here’s a three round layout that will help you in doing so.

1) Round 1 – Footwork
Spend the entire round (most commonly 3 or 5 minutes in length) moving around the ring/cage, changing angles, sliding in, sliding out and changing directions often to hone the fundamental movement skills that you will be putting to use in all of your sparring rounds. Avoid the urge to punch by focusing solely on the practice of your footwork techniques.

2) Round 2 – Add Punches
Be sure to maintain the fluid footwork that you executed in the first round of shadow fighting and now start to bring your punching technique into the game. Start with the jab. Work it while moving in different directions, doubling and tripling it up to push yourself physically. A short while later start following the jab with the cross and then progress to add hooks, uppercuts and body punches into the mix. Stay busy, light on your feet and technically sound throughout the entire round.

3) Round 3 – Add Kicking Techniques
In the third and final round, after breaking a good sweat throughout the last two rounds, I want you to start unleashing your kicks. One option that you have is to choose one or two kicks to add to your footwork and punching practice. This choice will help you isolate any kicking combinations that you are yet to master. Another option is to execute a wide variety of kicking techniques throughout the round in addition to the other techniques you are practicing. This way can be a lot of fun. However you do things, try to incorporate movement, punching and kicking into each of your combinations to properly mimic the way your techniques should be applied in sparring and actual fight competition. You may have to slow your practice at first to keep things sharp and technically sound. There’s nothing productive about practicing with poor technique so remember take your time.

You can incorporate these 3 rounds near the beginning of your workout or as a low impact wind down after everything else is done. Try to have your striking coach oversee your shadow fighting rounds to keep a close eye on your technique and body positioning, helping you make corrections when necessary. If you are training on your own focus on proper mechanics over speed and be very critical of your own technique. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. It’s perfect practice that makes perfect!

Train hard, train smart, and most importantly have fun!

Categories : MMA Training Tips

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  1. Tim says:

    One thing I like to do when running my classes is alternate rounds between only hands, only feet, mixed strikes, then do rounds that focus on one specific, obscure technique, like elbows, knees, push kicks, backfists, etc. Each combo is freestyle, but has to have that specific technique somewhere.

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