Archive for category Shadowboxing

Timeless and Priceless Advice

You need to listen to this old school fighter and coach.  I’ve preached this stuff to fighters until I was blue in the face.  No more needs to be said, just watch this whole video and listen close.   Thank me by taking heed of his advice and training your ass off.

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Delivering the Jab

The jab is the king of all punches, it’s versatile, it sets up the big ‘payday’ shots like the right hand, left hook, and uppercut.  You can throw it while moving in almost any direction and it leaves your balance in tact.  It goes without saying that having a good jab can take you from average to above average, and from good to great.  What constitutes a good jab lies in how you deliver it, your ability to use it frequently to clear the road ahead, and to apply it in various scenarios to suit your purpose.  The jab is a thinking man’s (or woman’s) punch.

TECHNICAL ASPECTS (the description below assumes an orthodox fighter who jabs with his left hand)

The delivery of the jab is critical for both your offense and defense, you need it to be fast and efficient to set up ensuing shots while at the same time leaving you covered against potential counters.

Here are some absolutely essential aspects on delivering the jab.

1)  Keep the elbow down until the last second when you deliver the jab and extend your arm. A flared up elbow will leave your jab coming sideways (in some cases you will want this, but not for a basic jab) and it will also leave your jab a bit short, throw that jab with the elbow down and deliver it like it’s being thown down a pipe.

2)  Turn the fist over.  There is a time and place for the backfisted jab and the intentionally misplaced jab, in most cases however, you need the jab to come straight through to the opponent’s chin.  When you turn the fist over with your pinky finger facing the ceiling your shoulder will roll up that bit higher to protect your chin.  Of course, you also need to remember to tuck your chin like you’re holding a wad of cash to your upper chest.

3)  Do NOT drop your fist even in the slightest upon delivery.  This is the biggest mistake I see beginners make, they drop their fist an inch or two from their face before throwing the jab straight out.  The only time to drop the hand before throwing the jab is when you’re faking a punch and are following up with something or if you are in a position with your hand down.  To train this habit, get yourself close to a mirror, right up close, just couple feet away.   Throw a hundred spontaneous jabs and keep your eyes on your punch.  It should come out almost like you are punching over a table that is at the height of your neck.  Do NOT drop that hand.

4)  Twist your body and extend your shoulder so that your back is rounded on the jab side, you want to stretch your shoulder blade forwards.  Just doing this will put your shoulder to your chin when you finish the shot to give you extra coverage.

5)  Do not move the right hand when you jab, it should be planted on your face with your upper arm resting comfortably on your ribs.  A lot of fighters pull a ‘shot gun’ pose when they jab, it’s easy to catch these guys with the left hook.  Some fighters open up their arm near the ribcage and are susceptible to a counter left uppercut.  Don’t give anything away for free, you can prevent a lot of shots from scoring simply by keeping the opposite protective hand in position.  To train this you need to spend time shadowboxing and thinking about the non-punching hand when you throw combos.  Bodily self-awareness is critical in boxing.

6)  For most jabs your arm should be loose and relaxed, and the punch should snap without telegraphing.  The best way to train this is to train in front of a mirror and watch yourself for telegraphing cues.  Your hand snaps and the rest of you is calm like an unrippled pond.  This doesn’t mean that you aren’t moving the rest of your body, it just means that you are in a rhythm and do not have any fist pumps or tensing up that gives you away.  In your mind you are thinking “stay loose, maintain rhythm, and fast delivery”  That being said, not all jabs need to be loose and snappy, sometimes you need to stiff arm them just a bit to drive somebody back, the key is to apply force without leaving your arm extended for longer than a millisecond.

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Boxing Footwork

In amateur boxing, MMA, and Thai Boxing, footwork is an often overlooked aspect of a complete fighter’s arsenal.  When viewing two fighters, it becomes apparent rather quickly who has superior footwork, and how that will affect the outcome of a fight.  In simple terms, solid footwork will take you where you want to go, and take you away from where you don’t want to be quickly and effecitvely.  This allows you to set up your strikes and counters, it allows you to re-attack quickly, it allows you to adjust small distances and create angles, and it saves you from having to stand and trade with an inferior opponent.  All of these are top notch reasons to take your footwork very seriously!

The first way to improve your footwork is to focus solely on footwork drills and practice during training.  It’s not uncommon for a good fighter to spend 15-20 minutes a workout focused on footwork.

Second, incorporate active footwork into all aspects of your training such as bag work and sparring.  Spend rounds moving a bit more than usual.  Switch up from an offensive mindset, to a counter-punching mindset, to a defensive mindset and watch how your footwork changes.

Third, watch pros in your sport during their fights, most notably boxing.  Watch Roy Jones, Mayweather, Ali, Tyson (for inside footwork).  Study Anderson Silva and GSP. Notice what they do, and incorporate it into your training.

Fourth, Learn from a variety of disciplines such as Muay Thai, wrestling, fencing, and other martial arts.  The top MMA fighters of today such as A. Silva and GSP, have primarily adopted a boxing style of footwork with components of Muay Thai and Wrestling for various transitions.

Fifth, train plyometric and agility drills consistently to improve your capacity to sustain a high pace.

Check out my Footwork video on my Youtube page –

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How To Shadowbox

Based on my experience, there are different ways to shadowbox, and in this article I want to discuss some of the most effective ways to use this aspect of your training.  At the amateur levels, shadowboxing is often overlooked and undertrained, which is surprising because next to sparring and good padwork shadowboxing is the closest thing to simulating a fight.

When considering how you want to train any aspect of your boxing you must take into account what stage you are at in your boxing program, and in this article I mean that on a mini-scale.  For example, are you months out from a fight, are you weeks or days out from a fight, or are you just coming off a fight etc… this is going to impact how you focus your efforts and what part of your game you need to work on.  But before we get into these aspects, I recommend that you wear very light hand weights during your shadowboxing, nothing too heavy, something around the weight of a boxing glove (which is 1lb. for sparring gloves, 12 oz for bag and 8-10 oz for fight gloves).  You don’t have to wear them all the time, but at least half the time to get a feel for carrying the weight of a glove during shadowboxing.

Having said that, there are five major ways to utilize shadowboxing:

1) Repetitive Drilling – this is the simplest form of shadowboxing.  Basically, you pick a single technique and you repeat it over and over to improve this technique.  A lot of amateur boxers have a left hook that is not up to par with their right hand, so you may want to take a round or two each workout and just work on left hooks until it becomes a ‘money’ punch.  As well, you can always add a second component to drilling, you may want to work on your jab and add a step back by pushing back off your front foot after throwing the jab, sort of popping in and out.  The main component with drilling is to keep it simple and focus on your technique

2) Freestyle (single aspect) – With this type of shadowboxing you are moving freestyle (moving around and going by what you feel and whatever comes to your head), however you are only working on one aspect of your game.  For example, you can take a round and just work on head movement, or blocking and parrying, or footwork, or straight punches.  With this type of training you can add in other components, but the focus is on what you are working on.  If you take a round and focus on head movement, you can still add the odd punch and you can still add footwork, but make sure that 80% of your effort is focused on head movement.

3)  Sequencing – This is when you work on a specific sequence of moves that you have set up between you and your imaginary opponent.  For example:

You – throw the jab

Opponent – slips jab and throws jab

You – catch jab and counter with left hook, duck after the hook and throw another left hook

Opponent – blocks both left hooks in sequence and quarter turns out to your right to get away


You can make this sequences as long or as short as you want.  The key is to treat it like a chess match so you can deal with different scenarios.  Try to imagine problems an opponent has given you and create solutions for these problems.  Play them out in shadowboxing and then test them out in sparring.

4)  Scenario – This is similar to above, but the specifics are taken out.  In scenario based training you adopt a certain mindset and you shadowbox based on this.  One of my favorites in the last 30 seconds of a training round is to imagine that I have my opponent hurt and I’m going after him.  I’m laying on the heat, but still cautious of any wild counter punches from my opponent.  I’m trying to put him away but he just won’t go down, I’m landing but he’s fighting to stay alive.

You can also imagine yourself as the counter puncher, or that you are down on the scorecards and you need the round to win.  Imagine you are the against the ropes and picking your shots.  The key is to create a mindset based on the situation you’ve created, and shadowbox to win.

5) Freestyle – This is where you work your complete game, from offense to defense to head movement to footwork.  When you do this you want to simulate the fight as much as possible.  Imagine your toughest sparring or a recent fight.  At the end of each shadowboxing round you should feel as though you just emerged from one of these rounds.  Shadowbox fast, at fight pace.  Anything slower just won’t do.

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