Shadowboxing - how to...?

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Latikos, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    Funny, how I never know whether to post here on in the general martial arts discussion section...

    Anyway: I was thinking whether or not to even bother asking, because it's high likely that it won't be of any help in the end either way.

    But I decided why not. It's in the middle of the night, I brushed my teeth, everything is bad anyway - so why not? ;)

    As the title says it's supposed to be about shadowboxing.
    My kickboxing coach always adds it to the gradings, so the that was the last time I had to do it and sort of tried.
    (I ended up trying to repeat my combinations from later of the grading, but even that didn't work properly, because I didn't manage to exactly think straight).

    And obviously: I don't do it often.
    Grading was seven or so weeks ago and as mentioned above, I didn't do it since.

    Now to the why: I just can't.

    And I don't mean the "I feel like an idiot"-can't; even though I do.
    Like a very big one too!
    Which makes me hate it even more.

    But it's more due to my... condition.
    Now, not to bore anyone, I make it quick: How did you guys start with shadow boxing?
    Like... how did you decide what to do, how to move or whatever?

    As in: What were your personal first steps on starting it, getting better at it and maybe even end up being more or less good at and not only being used to it?

    Maybe somebody is bored enough to actually have an answer to it :oops:
    Knee Rider likes this.
  2. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I just started so I'm probably horrible, but I read a few websites with tips and just started from there. One said to imagine you are facing a strong opponent (strong as in a good challenge for you); you have to evade/block/etc their attacks and return attacks. Fight the imaginary opponent.

    That got me doing a lot more evasive stuff in shadow boxing than I used to; block & counter, slip & counter, etc.

    Dunno if that helps.
  3. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Two quick suggestions
    1 work the basics, so foot work whilst keeping the hands up, don't even throw a punch just practise moving forward sideways, pivoting,
    then moving with simply throwing a jab keep it simple and basic
    2 get a partner to stand a couple of feet from you and both shadow box, use him as a target but you must always keep that two foot distance from him never crowd or touch him. That will get you use to imagining an actual opponent in front of you
    axelb, David Harrison and Mitch like this.
  4. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin Supporter

    This is great advice. Point 1 especially gets missed out, people think shadow boxing is just about throwing arms and legs around, but that leads to speedboy videos, not actual shadow boxing. You need to think about how you move your feet in sparring and go from there.
  5. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Start with this = Jab, pivot left, move feet. Jab, pivot right, move feet. Rinse and repeat for 3 minutes.

    Shadow boxing should ideally be more free-flowing and less restricted than that but that's a good start. It's a truism that you can never work your jab, lateral movement and footwork enough.
    You can then add in varying the jab (high, low, duck right, duck left, double jab, triple jab, bob and weave as you move, put in feints, parrys and blocks, pull back, step in, step back, up jab, corkscrew jab, falling step power jab, flicking jab, etc).
    Even just with one punch the variation is immense so it's easy to see why it can be daunting to start with.
    If you get really good at it you can add in sprawls, BJJ solo mobility drills, kicking from guard and technical stand ups in so you're going from stand up to ground and back again. :)
  6. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    This is something I've been working on a lot lately too. You've seen my footage and associated text so you know the issues I was having with it and I won't rehash them here.

    My advice based on the things I've found most comfortable, some stuff that I've read and process of playing around/elimination are as follows.

    1) stay relaxed and loose, tuck your chin and keep your hands up.
    2) as others have said build up from footwork, head movement and jab only.
    3) work consistent favoured combinations.
    4) focus on accurate footwork, weight distribution, biomechanical linking up the kinetic chain of the strike but don't throw full force. Really go for form.
    5) visualise and opponent or if you can't do that link things together in ways that make combative sense and will serve you well in terms of muscle memory.
    6) work defence as well as attack.

    Now for things I'm doing that I'm not 100 percent sure on (so also serve as questions for myself)

    1) I'm not throwing with full power or full extension from the elbow. I am however attempting to get good shoulder extension.
    2) keeping my hands in a loose fist with a little snap on the end (pronation).
    3) mentality wise I'm looking for relaxed focus and physical fluidity.

    Stuff I still can't nail

    1) air kicking. Front kicks feel funny without a target to push through especially. I feel right now I'm having to slow kicking down and pull the strike a lot when hitting air. Better leg strength in the proper areas and some increased flexibility will help this I'm sure.
    2) any/all other blind spots (please let me know).
  7. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Can you explain what makes it particularly difficult for you?

    Is it the improvisation?

    I think almost everyone finds it difficult to do well unless it's a regular part of training. It's not too hard to "fake it" in a kata-esque way; where you repeat combos and drills you already have in you, but to truly "fight shadows" is quite a feat of imagination and very taxing. The mind fatigues quickly trying to keep up with all the variables and maintain what has been set up previously.

    There was a video recently on Stephan Kesting's SD channel that covered shadow boxing. Much of the technical aspects aren't for me, but what resonated was him describing his old instructor telling him "I don't see your opponent".

    Perhaps thinking more about your opponent and less about yourself might help? Then you will be reacting in a more realistic and determined manner, rather than flailing about and trying to fit your imaginary opponent to your actions.

    Oh, and go as slowly as you need to, in order to keep that mental picture in focus.
    Monkey_Magic likes this.
  8. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    Hey and thanks everyone for the replies!

    I will try and work through them without losing track and also will trying to make sense.
    For that I will sort of work from the last post towards to the ones before it.

    Starting here.
    I'm not sure how much sense this is going to make from an outside point of view, but I will try to explain: It's due to the way my brain is wired (according to my Doc; it's not just a nutty theory by myself ^^).

    Sorry, but I have to make a little detour, that might make understanding my problem a tad easier: Running criss-cross on that mats for warm-up is something I can't do either; I can run in circles or set routes, but not just make up a way while running.
    There are what feels like a million possibles routes, you can do: Left, right, straight, sharp right, curvy left, opposite direction... to name a few.
    And doing that over and over without a... a good "reason"* so to speak, makes it impossible for me.

    *Of course I know the reason for it, like evading people coming towards you; but that's not the sort of "reason" I mean here.

    The same principle comes into play when shadowboxing: There are bot only tons of variations what could be done, see Smitfires post:
    And that's not nearly all of the points, that need consideration; but with that I don't tell anyone here something new.

    There also isn't a sensible, or maybe more fitting: Logical reason*² for what to do when.
    And that is my problem!
    I need to have a reason, why to do something and also when and the such.

    *²Again: I understand why shadowboxing is a good thing; like above with the evading. So, that understanding isn't missing.

    I have the same problem when we're working with kicking shields and the coach tells us to whatever we want and have everything included: It's so many possibilities, that I don't know where to start, let alone what to do to keep going.
    It's like... having a big neural overload; and in the end I am glad if I get to move somehow again and not remain frozen with a loud buzz in my head.
    I hate it, because no matter what I feel retarded and it looks the same for the outside view.

    My Doc compared it to neanderthals running away from a sabre-tiger: They would run a route that makes sense, a route to safety.
    They would not run criss-cross through the woods in the vague hope to maybe find a safe place.
    It might not be the perfect comparison or scientifically 100% accurate, but it works for me.
    And since it is sort of a medical problem, I am not sure, if I can actually learn it.
    My Doc is being rather honest and says I probably will never be able to it right, and therefore have to find a way to make it work for me; as in the running example he told me to consider to run along a pattern, I make up in my mind, with symmetric angles and other shapes.

    So the problem is not imagining the opponent and it's not exactly the improvisation, even though it most certainly is related to it, but it's too... "short-sighted" in my case so to speak.
    (In case the wording is offending - that wasn't my intention!)

    I will have a look at it later or tomorrow, when my brain is more in a working order as it is now, but thanks already!
    I really the channel, so I'm sure I will not only enjoy but also take something out of the video.

    Not sure, if that might work for me, but I certainly like the idea of looking at it this way!

    @Knee Rider : For the moment I would have to look at it from an angle, where I could only do some short combinations, that are planned beforehand, but I will keep your points in the back of my head, and go through them one after the other and hopefully keep the point before, when going to the next.

    Also thanks for adding more questions!
    For me it's really interesting to see what others struggle with, because I sort of get new input out of it, as to how it works for more "normal" people! :)

    This might be something to start with it, as it's a clear objective of what to do.

    I don't even expect to get really good at it at some point; not even a little good.
    I would just like to be able to at least fake it, that I'm not always the freak in class.

    @icefield and Mitch: Keeping track of the feet, got it!
    Works hand in hand with the advice of smitfire, since it has both hands and feet in it.
    EDIT: I also think having a partner in front of me to work with is an interesting idea!
    That would take away the stress-factor of "just doing" it.

    @Morik: Keeping the defense in mind seems to be a good idea too.
    When I try to think back to classes, I think lots of people there neglect that.
    Than again I'm fighting a half nervous breakdown half the time, so I can't be sure.

    I will probably get bored and frustrated to death with it in no time, I will at least try and keep at it.

    Again: Thank you for every answer!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  9. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Ah, okay, so it is improvisation that you find very difficult.

    Here's a question: how do you decide from the countless things you could do in sparring? Do you find it difficult to choose what to do when a punch is coming towards your face?
  10. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I can't help much, but it sounds like either compulsive disorder (I can't do that because I really don't want to) or information overload (I can't process that).

    Sounds difficult and I don't envy you. As to a reason "why" we shadow box, it's just sparring. It just requires a little imagination. You imagine someone throwing a punch, then you move out he way. You are not acting or making anything up. You are simply REacting to an imaginary live opponent.
  11. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    As I tried to explain above, it's not only the improvisation.
    The improvisation is more like a part of the problem, but the problem itself is bigger.
    But since I can't explain it any better (neither in German or English) we have to leave it at that, I'm afraid :oops:

    Well, I'm pretty bad in sparring, and I block a lot with my face, so...

    But during sparring I try to just react.
    I don't have the time to actually think about what to do - that plus being very bad set a lot of limits I'm sure.
    I also use mainly my fists when sparring, because I'm too slow for kicks (or I feel like I am; it's entirely possible, that I just don't dare using them).

    The problem with us is, that we only have normal sparring and you get just thrown into it; depending on the partner they go slow (most of them do), but I usually don#t feel like playing around with new stuff, because I end up hit that way.

    On the ground it's easier: Aside from the fact, that I enjoy it more than stand-up I get to play a bit.
    Worst case is you tap out, whereas when sparring in standup the head gets quite a knock.
    I'm also more daring to try new things or just anything for that matter (I lost count of how I often I was asked: What are you trying there?).

    So, long story short: I try to react more and think less.
    And due to an opponent being there and trying to hit me, I don't get to think about what to chose.
    But if I do attack or something, than yes, often I do think a moment before about what I am about to try.

    My Doc says the problem is my brain not being wired the normal way, and not so much the "I don't want it therefore I can't do it".
    Since the mentioned problem with running criss-cross really lead to fights with my teacher I'm rather sure, he is right about it, because I would have changed it at least a little otherwise, just to not make my teacher mad at me :oops:

    See above, it really is difficult to explain; for me anyways. Others might have less trouble doing it.
    For the moment I just know that I have a ****ty phase for some weeks now, that makes me being even more fed up with being a freak than I usually am ;)

    Plus: Kickboxing group gets bigger and bigger and I get too scared to attend it; which I hate as well.
    And I'm not to keen on these people knowing about .... me being me.

    The problem I have with that is, that this opponent has to do something and my brain just doesn't work in a way, that it can make something up; certainly not in a way that goes ... farer? more far?... that is more than a single punch or whatever.

    Usually I just get paralyzed when it comes to that.
    When the coach wanted to see some shadowboxing during the grading (and it was not even a minute I'm sure) I nearly had a nervous breakdown, because I got totally paralyzed until I did some movements (I don't even dare to call it punches) when I was trying to remember that combinations I had to work later.
    And even that didn't really work out.
  12. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin Supporter

    We'll do some work on it when you're over for the next MAP Meet. :)
  13. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I think you explained it well enough: you cannot make arbitrary decisions. There has to be a reason or pattern.

    My advice would be to find training that fits your needs, and an instructor that makes a distinction between what it takes to make you better, and following arbitrary grading requirements.

    The description of sparring you give doesn't sound like a very productive exercise for you, either.
  14. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    That would be great obviously :)

    It's not so much about the grading, I just picked that up, because it was the latest situation of it.

    I'm also in the lucky position to have teachers that know of my problems and work with them the best they can.
    I also enjoy getting not treated different in the sense that I get away with my quirks, if there really isn't a good reason to it.
    The running and shadowboxing are different problems and I think I made my teacher, who got mad about it, understand the problem - doesn't mean he won't keep pushing me to work on it.

    I also have to mention that his way of doing things already made me have progression on a bigger scale I ever thought possible.

    The kickboxing (and Karate) coach is a little more... different.
    He's mostly a good guy and doesn't get mad at all, when I have these problems; he let's me take a break if I think I need it (my teacher doesn't, and I unfortunately I have to admit he has been right so far: I didn't need these breaks, I used them to get out of a stressful situation) and everything.
    He just doesn't and probably can't understand the problem; like most.
    It's one thing to get it more or less straight in the head, but another to have the person with said problem in your class.

    Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, I honestly don't know.
    I wish at times it would be a bit different, but I also have to say it made me make progress, if I do from the statements of other students; I also only do kickboxing an hour a week, so I don't expect big progress there anyway. I like it most of the time, but it's not my focus.

    Also: I don't want a special treatment. If I can't take normal training, then maybe it's entirely the wrong thing for me to do.
    I seriously have no idea, since I don't know it any different from personal experience anyway.
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  15. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I wasn't talking about special treatment. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. If MA are for fun, then there's no shame in concentrating on the aspects that you find more enjoyable.

    Oh, and I didn't realise you were talking about two separate instructors, sorry.

    That way of sparring doesn't sound too productive for anyone, I'm not judging it on you as a special case. I think that everyone should start off at a pace they can process, and build up from there. If you don't get to practice applying techniques because it's too intense, then it isn't good training, IMHO.
  16. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    Hmmm. Not sure I can add much more than has already been said, but FWIW, maybe you could try to develop and practice some sort of systematic progression that starts with something you CAN do, and gradually adds in little steps based on that, from which you can then derive sequences of moves that "make sense" (in the sense that they aren't arbitrary and hopefully don't lock up your decision-making) that you then ideally could slap onto bigger combinations, so you're going through pre-rehearsed sequences rather than trying to "guess" on the spot what your imaginary opponent would do. For example, start with a logical sequence of hits, no footwork, no defense, just working on the strikes in isolation, say, a classic jab-cross-hook combo. Add in whatever footwork/stepping pattern is natural for you on those strikes (or which your instructor makes you train). Imagine someone using that combination of strikes and footwork against you. What would be your ideal reaction? How would you move, how would you counter? Back in your own shoes again, where is that counter coming from? Add a parry and a step out of the way. That's one sequence. Mirror it, and you have another (for example if the step out at the end lands you in the opposite stance). Take another sequence of hits, add in the proper footwork, ideal reaction, parry and step-out. Another thing that might help the heuristic process is to go for "concepts" that reduce the randomness, such as alternating high and low (if you do something on the high line, you generally create an opening on the low line, and vice versa, so it's generally a good idea to train to alternate them), or alternating strikes and parries (same reason, arm sticking out = nose getting booped, so cover it up quickly). It might also help to think about it as more like shadow bagwork or padwork than sparring, as another way to remove the guesswork. If you have any combos you like using on the punching bag, do them in the air and imagine you're moving around the bag as you do so. If you have any combos you always work on the pads, imagine there's a pad holder in front of you who's going to mark the strikes and only counter at preset intervals (such as a boop to the head after every jab-cross-hook combo).

    Also, and perhaps more importantly, pace yourself, and don't rush it. It's shadowboxing, and you're not going to get hit (barring bizarre and potentially hilarious implausible scenarios :p), so you can take all the time in the world to make sure you're moving properly, which I'm guessing is also what your instructor wants to see. Anyone can pretend to be an invincible fighter in shadowboxing or bagwork or whatever, and any instructor worth their weight in chocolate milk knows that, so they're almost surely going to pay 10x more attention to body mechanics, footwork, etc than to what specific techniques you do other than a cursory check for blatant stuff like throwing 30 punches with nary a parry or sidestep to be seen, because your actual ability to hit, be hit, avoid being hit, etc is firmly within the domain of partner training.
    David Harrison likes this.
  17. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    My problem is, that I certainly have more weaknesses than strengths.
    I might understand the things quick, but doing them takes work for me, whereas most people just seem to need to stay there, lift their arms ang go: "Here I am" and wham they can do it.
    Which makes lots of things really frustrating at times.

    For me apparently comes, that I am persistent.
    Yeah... well... yay me.
    Personally I find it rather useless or at least overrated, but that's just me :D

    Another problem is, that I must not get back to a point, where I will only (or even mainly) do, what I enjoy.
    If my teacher would have had allowed that, I would still be worse than I am anyway; or, to put it a way, that doesn't sound that negative: I would still be useless as an Uke, whereas now I'm really good at being that.

    My fault too.
    I should have been more clear here:
    I have, at the moment, five instructors.
    Three (four) teachers and one (two) coach(es) (yeah, I make a difference there, but it's nothing important, I think.)
    Anyway my Sensei and two more are teachers for me; they handle me very well, in my opinion.
    The coach is more... he's having some trouble, but not in a way, that he lets me suffer under it, just in a way, that he isn't sure himself, what to do, if problems come up.

    Sensei (who would kick my ass, if he knew I call him that here :D, but it's just for differences) is the one who would make me do things I dislike - and therefore is the main reason I get better.
    The other two are very similar, but stop if they think, I can't take it anymore.

    The coach is more like: You can't do that? That's okay.
    Which is sort of nice, but is not something that gets me further.
    NOW: He's not a bad guy, don't get me wrong there.
    He also made me do thinks, I dislike, so it's not like I have a free pass for nuisance!

    I actually do agree here, but it might also be a personal problem, as the others do get better; I seem to be the only one who's stuck in comparison.

    The coach also makes sure, that there is no blind punching towards beginners. If someone goes to hard, he gets in between. If it happens more often or said person ignores the warnings, he gets sent to fight him or others, who know what they are doing, so the wannabee gets a little break.

    Also it might be I'm just a wuss when it comes to sparring.
    I only do it in that club, so maybe other clubs do it the same and I just suck.
    Really don't know, since I can hardly compare it to Judo-randori (where I get to play more, btw).

    It's an interesting pointer, I think.
    Out of those longer sequences I might even be able to pick up a few shorter ones and combine them anew *insert missing thinking smiley here*
    It wouldn't be shadowboxing in it's original sense at all, I guess, since I have a plan to work with, but it might be something I can use to sort of pretend.
    Like angles and symmetry when I am supposed run criss-cross; ideally without anyone noticing it, which doesn't work when running :rolleyes:

    I suck at bagwork too, since it's the same problem in the end.
    "Just do something", which isn't specific enough for me :oops::(
    For me it's easier to get command on what to do next; not that I am particularly good it, but it makes me not freeze or "unfreezes" me.

    When we are doing Ukemi Sensei sometimes barks out commands what we are supposed to do next; not going slowly, doing the usual, but barking the next command before we were done doing the one before; I'm pretty sure I had a situation once in which I had two commands already to follow, and he would keep going, but I'm not certain there.
    That I like.
    It prevents you from thinking too much and makes you react.
    And it works, as I learned falling rather quick when being thrown (not so quick, when I had to show it, but that was because people staring, not because I couldn't fall).

    So, when I get told what punch do to, for example, I can do it.
    Or the little game, I'm sure everyone knows: The partner has pads and holds them in a certain way, that you have to do a certain punch or kick.
    That I can do; not really fast, because I think too much, and technically there are sight less disturbing ;) , but I at least don't freeze.

    On other words: I *will* get hit :p

    What I prefer anyway, since I hate doing things sloppy, just because I feel I have to rush or actually have to rush.
    There are moments where it makes sense, sure, but I don't mean these.

    He does indeed.
    When we are "hitting the air" he makes sure, that form and everything is proper, otherwise he tells us, that we get sloppy and should concentrate on "point xy"
    I am also free to ask him after training for advice and the such. I did that for the stupid Karate-Kata, and he took some time to work on the problems with me, even sent the others out, so I would I concentrate better.

    I hope, I make sense above.
    It's not my best time for some weeks, and I feel like I start raping the English language at times :confused:
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  18. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu Supporter

    A lot of good advice on here.
    The key is that you're doing it, so keep that up and keep it in the routine.

    Shadowboxing is an ideal time to work on free footwork without working within the boundaries of someone else's agenda (in sparring), or restricted to a small area (bag work).

    I like to use it to spend more time with rounds of footwork and guard position.
    With attack and defense it's good to focus on breathing. Breathing out on attack and heavy defence, moving out of the pocket to breath in, working breathing when "stuck" in a corner or on ropes/cage/wall.
    All good to add to habits that should become more natural the more frequently you practice.
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  19. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    I used to have a similar issue with bagwork mainly, but it went away when I realized I wasn't supposed to imitate a fight, just work on delivering my strikes properly, with some accompanying footwork, covering up, etc, with the actual combative drilling taken care of by actual combative drilling :p (your issue does sound exactly like the reason I'm unable to dance, though :p). Now my bagwork is literally playtime, just hitting the bag for fun, and the improvisation is partly taken care of with natural flow, as any given technique has some techniques that it sets up more easily than others, so they'll pretty much fire automatically (which is another thing to consider when stringing movements together: which of them follow naturally from which others).

    Well then, there you go! Do the same thing, without the pad holder :p

    Funnily enough, I think kata and kihon would be an excellent way to work on this issue :p. Karate stance transitions give some pretty neat footwork if you do it properly, kata are literally predetermined offensive and defensive sequences, and the weird way kihon (and kata) movements are done is because they are movement exercises where there is no opponent to physically resist your techniques or to whose peculiarities the technique must be adapted, so you execute an abstracted and isolated version of the biomechanics that underpin what you would do if applying it on someone else's body.
    Tom bayley likes this.
  20. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    If you have difficulty making sense of kata. Get a compliant partner and do the movement against their body. See what obviously does not work. If it doesn't work then it is likely that the movement was not intended for the situation/ purpose you tried to apply it. if it does work against a compliant partner. get your partner to resist, then see how well it works. always do this slowly at first, you do not want to discover that what looks like a block is actually a lock the shoulder and break the collarbone technique at speed.

    Once you get a better idea of how it feals like to apply the move you will get a better idea of how to use your body weight, how to step and move etc when practising the forms.
    Fish Of Doom likes this.

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