Shadow Boxing, Kicks vs Punches & Sparring (diary entry)

shin block


We began with a very specific warm-up focusing on shadow boxing. Having been an individual that has had to rely on a lot of solo training, I am keen to ensure that my clients receive a lot of information on how to maintain and improve material being taught in lessons. Shadow boxing is a very under-rated tool and it requires a good deal of mental input. Typically a fighter’s shadow boxing is not reflective of the way he actually spars or fights, which is a mistake. Although going through the shapes of techniques you need to practise is better than not going through them (you will get some benefits in performing the actions in repetition) a lot of this exercise is sorely wasted when the time could be dedicated into helping to eliminate bad habits and prompt better actions. Shadow boxing should be planned in the fighter’s head. The movements need some degree of choreography for visualisation. This choreography must be mindful in order to benefit the fighter’s game. The mental imaging needs to be realistic and not just big sequences of uninterrupted techniques or ridiculous combinations. I advise on short bursts of techniques, involving constant movement, imagining a likely attack and defence posture made by an opponent.


This can be helped by having a recording of a fight synopsis e.g. “Larger, aggressive opponent moving forward with punches”. Another great way is to use a visual medium. Try watching a real fight, putting yourself in the proverbial shoes of one of the fighters and reacting with your own techniques. So, when your “opponent” throws a punch, you move and counter, or when you see an opening, you respond with your chosen technique.


We then moved on the focus mitt, where we first trained punching defences against kicking and then kicking defences against punching. During the first sequence we picked apart the transitional aspects that are often overlooked. These transitions take more coordination to be effective than at first seems. During the first sequence we trained both a shin-check/cross-punch combination and a kick-catch/straight jab combination. The shin-check is far more than a negative block. It does more than shield a fighter from a kick. This technique intercepts an incoming low kick and can even end the fight if delivered with enough force (although this is usually down to the kicker having a structural weakness in his shin bone). The cross punch that follows the shin-check will be sapped of power and further compromise balance if the lead leg is not put back onto the ground first. Therefore, it is important to drive forward with the shin-check, striking the incoming kick at an angle and encroach on the opponent’s space. The cross then can be better “pulled” from its starting point into the target. As for the kick-catch/jab, the sequence involves cross-parrying a mid-section round kick into a catch with the rear arm and then countering with a jab. The rational here is to prevent the kicker from clinching or regaining more balance by using a technique that keeps him out of range with his leg still trapped.


muay thai


During the second sequence we were more concerned with using kicks to exploit obvious openings created by punchers. The first one utilised the teep against a jab. Although slower, the kick has more range than jabs that are generally used as range finders. Muay Thai mainly kicks at punching range, but distance can be exploited by the legs. A low teep to the front of the thigh is not as common as low round-kicks and can catch an opponent off-guard. By targeting a lower area than where the puncher is concentrating, the kicker might have an advantage. We also executed the same technique at the more common mid-range target. Next we looked at countering the cross with a round kick to the ribs.


We then sparred for a round of boxing and a round of Muay Thai. We discussed ways to better coordinate punches and kicks after the second round, but overall good progress is being made by my client. The lesson finished with two jailhouse-style intensive training routines. The first one consisted of performing a descending number of press-ups, starting at 10, combined with an ascending number of jab/crosses, up to 10. We then performed a similar routine using squats and round-kicks.


We concluded with a decision to incorporate more rounds of sparring and sparring analysis on Boxing/Muay Thai for lessons in the immediate future.

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