Shadow boxing - moving meditation
This may appear to the untrained eye as exhausting, aggressive or even intimidating, but it’s really a form of meditation through movement. When properly done, shadowboxing requires both 100% focus with simultaneous relaxation. Having this (or any other) singular focus requires the energy used in producing the background noise in your brain to be redirected to the task in hand, resulting in a much clearer and happy mind.
Although it can look like a fully choreographed sequence, it’s really just one move flowing into the next plus occasionally fitting in a particular strike that you wish to work on. It takes some time to get to a level where you don’t need to think about each move individually, then, once that stage has been mastered, the next stage will be short combinations and then finally, a pure, unplanned flow.
When you first start, this will be tiring. Your body will not be fully relaxed, your breath will not be adept at feeding the movement patterns but through time, your breathing will sync with the dynamics, allowing you to move much more efficiently.
Firstly, this isn’t a fully detailed instructional on how to shadow box and assumes you know basic strikes and defence, this is more aimed at having a clear mind and how to implement it in your daily life.
1. Find an open and tidy space with as few distractions as possible. Personally, I prefer to be outside in the open air but work with what you have.
2. Take a deep inhale through the nose all the way into the belly and focus on the task in-hand.
3. Set your stance up correctly and check it in a mirror if you have one.
4. Start very slow and get the neck, shoulders and arms loosened up.
5. Ensuring good, crisp form; throw some 25% pace single strikes.
6. Piece these into combinations.
7. Move your feet - Don’t just stand in the same place; side-step, pivot off from strikes, shuffle etc.
8. Don’t neglect defence – imagine there is someone trying to throw strikes at you.
9. As you feel your body warming up, pick up the pace.
10. Keep your mind in the moment and focus on becoming totally relaxed.
11. After a few minutes, you should begin to feel a lot smoother. Keep this up and when you feel like that is enough or if you begin to get sloppy, either bring your focus back and continue on or begin to slow your practice down.
12. Once you have finished, take a deep inhale and you are now ready for what the world has in store for you.
More often than not, I will shadowbox without a timer and just go by what my body tells me, whether that be first thing in the morning or as a warmup before a training session, however, if you want to turn this into more of a workout, here are some examples I use myself.
· Setup a timer to mimic a Muay Thai, boxing or MMA fight.
E.g. 3 x 3-minute rounds with 1-minute rest, 5 x 1 min rounds with 30 seconds rest, or 12 x 3-minute rounds if you like! Whatever suits your current training level but mix it up, remembering that longer is not necessarily better. Will you keep the same intensity up for 12 x 3 minutes as you would for 5 x 1 minute? You might say yes because you will try, but in the real world, no, you will not.
This works for almost all forms of exercise. It is simply, 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest. A full tabata is 16mins, but adjust to suit what you wish to achieve, so this can be 4 minutes, 32 minutes etc.
Fast and slow – one of my favourites.
45 seconds of super-slow and 15 seconds of full pace, hard-hitting, non-stop strikes. The super-slow part causes you to think inventively about every portion of the movement as well as allowing you to see any mistakes you may miss when going faster, plus, after 15 seconds of 100% pace, it gives you time to get your breath under control.
I hope these tips help give you some direction on how to integrate the beloved shadow boxing into your daily life.
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