The Art of Shadowboxing | Part 1: Why We Shadowbox
The art of shadowboxing is the way all fighters warm up. They immerse themselves in this one thing to totally shut out all other distractions. They use this time as a way to meditate, to move mindfully, and to narrow their focus.
While boxers are one group of people who utilize a style of meditation to find their center, Eastern cultures have long used meditation and the concept of mindfulness to ensure that they are focused and fully aware.
Culture and Meditation
While there are many forms of meditation, the one most commonly accepted involves sitting still to quiet the mind, allowing a motionless body to calm the mind and focus it on one subject. Unfortunately, in Western culture, being still is not common practice and makes the traditional meditation modalities complicated to practice—especially for those who are new to this art.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
— Dalai Lama XIV
Learning to be mindful is the first step to meditation. Mindfulness allows you to inhabit a calm state of constant physical and mental awareness which can be used as a focusing method or therapeutic technique. Once you’ve successfully maintained and controlled your own mindfulness, you’ve mastered a part of meditation that should allow you to reach a meditative state, no matter where you are.
You can use mindfulness in shadowboxing to break the traditional practices of meditation and still achieve the same benefits. The art of shadowboxing allows you to develop mindfulness and awareness while in movement.
Shadowboxing is the only portion of the training session where there is no external feedback. There is no bag and there are no mitts, directions, or landmarks. It’s just you focusing inward on your form and technique. Take cues from how the movement feels, how your punches flow from the floor, through your hips, through your shoulders, and into the punch.
Every action in shadowboxing is about precision, taking the time to execute movement without rushing. There are no commands, nothing to respond to other than taking each movement to completion. Here, you have the opportunity to make every movement while shadowboxing textbook perfect.
To do something with precision, you have to be completely present. All distractions have to be eliminated. Even if you are in a room with 30 other people, you have to be the only one there. Couple this focus with the ability to let yourself be vulnerable and free from judgement, and you have reached an ideal state of mindfulness. You are free from distractions, focused and present in every action.
Shadowboxing sets you up for the rest of your session. The movements that you rehearse translate into more efficient movement and sharper, faster responses to commands given on the mitts. Use your shadowboxing time to prepare yourself for what is to come once you start to sweat, grind, and drive.
All athletes move through common motor patterns before they step up to compete. Batters take practice swings, wide receivers walk routes, boxers shadowbox. This is part of your body of work. Using the art of shadowboxing is an opportunity to perfect your craft, quiet your mind, and focus inwardly 100%. These moments are rare, especially in the culture we live in. Take advantage of them every time they are presented.
If you’re interested in learning more about the art of shadowboxing, and how you can put different movements and combinations together to set yourself up for success each and every session, check our blog often. We’ll post more about shadowboxing soon!
See you in the Ring!