MUAY THAI SHADOW BOXING
Striking in combat sports has become extremely diverse, as many different arts use high level training systems to improve the quality of their striking. Shadow boxing is one of those highly sustainable workout programs that involves a core system of high energy movements, coupled with a calm and strategic mindset.
What this article covers:
Combat sports like Boxing, Kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts, and Muay Thai have become extremely popular in mainstream Martial Arts. The hardcore nature of these fighting systems, has driven a need for more low impact training, so the athlete's can compete for longer in their careers.
Muay Thai is especially brutal, and the hardcore nature of this traditional Martial Art is extremely iconic. Muay Thai athletes will commonly look to improve their form using shadow boxing combinations. This highly intense Martial Art uses a formidable striking style, which includes the Thai clinch, punches, kicks, and the brutal nature of knees, and elbows. Sparring sessions in Muay Thai are full contact, and this can be detrimental to the progression of their fighting systems, especially if they are constantly being punched, kneed, elbowed, or kicked in the head. Using an impact free training system is the perfect tool for helping Muay Thai athletes achieve their overall striking improvement.
WHY IS SHADOW BOXING IMPORTANT
There are considerable benefits of shadow boxing everyday, and especially for Muay Thai athletes. Muay Thai is a full contact Martial Art that incorporates elbows, knees, punches, and kicks, and these aspects can be hard to train. Sparring at full contact can severely diminish the health of an athlete's joints, muscles, and bones. This is why shadow boxing is an important tool for Muay Thai athletes. Using shadow boxing can improve many different attributes that an athlete will need like their striking form, their balance, their speed of striking, their strategy, and their footwork. Improving these skills, and combining them together in a space that has no impact on the athlete's body, nor does it have any dangers of physical contact from an opponent is highly beneficial to a competitive athlete.
WHAT SHOULD AN ATHLETE LOOK TO ACHIEVE
Shadow boxing is extremely important in all combat sports, and all Martial Artists need to set goals when they are engaging in training sessions. Moving around with no direction, or purpose won't help an athlete, instead they need to focus on their movements, and specifically target them to be functional for their Martial Art. The first goal in shadow boxing is to warm up, and this consists of moving around in a good direction, while throwing kicks and punches. This can involve using head movements, lifting their knees, rolling their elbows around, and even utilising sprawling techniques. Athletes should also focus on their breathing technique, and realise that a warm up is designed to shake the limbs out, and use basic movements.
Working on the technical components of striking is pivotal, and using shadow boxing techniques will enable an athlete to build a comprehensive striking style. Athletes will need to work on offense, and defense and this involves punches, kicks, knees, elbows, parrys, slipping, weaving, rolling, and sprawling. Athletes will need to move slowly at first, and picking out a couple of key points to focus on instead of the whole intricate movement, can help them to build up their striking proficiency. Getting the technique correct is vital, and then the athlete can use repetition to master each of the techniques. Getting the form right is extremely important, and athletes should allow a coach to guide them, and for athletes training shadow boxing by themselves, they can always watch their form in front of a mirror.
Coordination is one of the key components of becoming a world class striker. Athletes that are engaged in shadow boxing techniques might want to try perfecting their jab from different footwork positions. In a real fight the game play can be unpredictable, and athletes may find themselves in unorthodox positions, whether that is off balance after receiving damage from their opponent, or if they are simply stepping into range from either side. Any athlete can perfect a jab, but utilising this technique in a real fight scenario doesn't always go to plan. A Muay Thai boxing match can be an extremely brutal format, and often the Thai clinch is a dominant force within these matches. This is where athletes need to train their jab, and their short elbows so they can break away from the clinch, and continue to win the dominance battle within the fight.
Muay Thai shadow boxing routines are all about rhythm, and instead of using a single striking technique, athletes should be looking to piece together the flow. Utilising a high series of movements like multiple punches, stepping in and out of range, slipping pretend punches, and using kicks can all be integrated into a flow system. This is the beauty of shadow boxing, as it doesn't matter if an athlete makes a mistake, they can simply try again and master their form. Shadow boxing is more important than sparring, and this is because in shadow boxing the athlete will learn comprehensive striking skills, as they combine them with a high energy of evasive maneuvers. It is important not to use full power in a rhythm drill, as all the athlete needs to do is roll those punches through, and find the sweet spot. This drill is all about fluency, accuracy, and proficiency, and combining them together in a good rhythm is important.
One of the most important concepts about shadow boxing is how an athlete can work on their fight strategy. Working on strategy can be extremely beneficial for an athlete, as they may need to work on different concepts after experiencing them during a fight. Some athletes may have certain habits that get punished during Muay Thai fights, and this is where they can work out how they can negate this for next time they fight. Developing strategy is all about muscle memory, and knowing how to utilise different game plans against different opponents. Going up against a traditional style of fighter, versus a southpaw fighter, athletes will need to have different systems in place to combat each problem. Maximising their time during shadow boxing sessions is a great way to brainstorm with their coach, or training partners, and this will help them significantly to improve their mindset for the next time they battle.
MUAY THAI BOXING COMBINATIONS
Muay Thai is a formidable style of combat, and due to its devastating list of weaponry, it is known as the art of eight limbs. This is because the art uses two fists, two feet, two knees, and two elbows. Even though Muay Thai is known for its Thai clinch, and its devastating knee, and elbow strikes, athletes within the art have an outstanding technical proficiency within their Boxing skills. In Thailand the scoring in a Muay Thai fight is heavily favoured towards knee, and elbows strikes, but outside of the country many Thai Boxers will use highly effective Boxing techniques.
One of the most basic combinations is the left jab, followed by the right hand straight punch. This combination is among one of the most effective punching combinations in all Martial Arts. The jab is designed to stun the opponent, and the straight right hand is more of a power punch. This combination can score highly in a competitive fight, and can also be utilised to keep in range of the opponent. This combination is utilised in shadow boxing drills by beginners, before they move on to more complicated striking combinations. Another basic combination that is utilised in Muay Thai shadow boxing is the jab, and the right overhand combination. In this combination the jab is used as a ploy to distract the opponent, as the overhand punch will come through at a high impact. This is a good tactic, and traditionally the jab is countered with a straight punch from the opponent, which opens up an opportunity for the overhand punch to go over the top, and land clean on the opponent.
Shadow boxing drills will always start off easier for beginners to understand, and as they move through the progression of skills they can ramp up their output. The jab, and right straight with the left hook combination is another iconic three punch combo, which is basically the next step from the simple two hit combinations. When the athlete has been throwing jabs, and straight punch combinations, the opponent is not going to expect a devastating body hook, or hook to the face. What makes this combination even more deadly is once the athlete throws the jab, and follows up with the straight punch the opponent may counter strike, giving the athlete an opportunity to duck underneath the punch, and land a hard left hook to the body. Using evasive maneuvers combined with dynamic striking is an optimal way to win competition fights, and practicing these concepts in a shadow boxing format is highly beneficial to the fighters.
Muay Thai athletes will commonly look to increase their shadow boxing techniques by adding in kicks, knees, or elbows. In Muay Thai using lead body kicks, rear body kicks, front tipe kicks, long and short knee strikes, and elbow strikes are all iconic parts of the arsenal. The jab, cross, and left leg kick combination is instrumental in setting the opponent up with punches, and then delivering damage with the leg kick. The jab, cross, left hook, and left leg switch kick is another high percentage combination used by all levels of Muay Thai strikers. Athletes can even start combinations by checking a lead body kick, and moving into a drop down cross, followed by a powerful hook, and then finished off with a rear body kick. Whichever combinations an athlete chooses, they can build a significant skill set from repetition in shadow boxing workouts.
THE BENEFITS OF SHADOW BOXING
There is an extensive range of benefits that athletes will discover from training in shadow boxing workouts. Improving an athlete's form is vital, and shadow boxing can help athletes fine tune their game styles. Any athlete can throw a single technique, but to combine all of the striking movements together into a flow system is critical for long term success in the competition ring. Athletes can get creative, and explore many different combinations together, just to see what works. In shadow boxing there are no opponents, and this means the athlete is free to master their form, without taking any damaging shots, and in the art of Muay Thai that is exactly how athletes will achieve longevity within the sport.
Muscle memory is having the ability to reproduce a certain movement without any conscious thought, and achieving this concept is a result of subsequent repetition of that movement. During shadow boxing exercises, athletes that use repetition of different techniques will create a neurological pathway between the central nervous system and the muscles. Performing certain movements repetitively will help to launch neurons in different parts of the athlete's brain, which will result in muscle memory of those movements to be formed. Practising a striking combination numerous times will only result in good form when the athlete steps into the ring, and building muscle memory will help an athlete become a world class striker.
One of the huge benefits of shadow boxing is the improved hand and eye coordination. Athletes will be able to utilise different functional movements, which will become instinctive, and help to tune up their fine motor skills. Athletes will become symbiotic between their hands, their head, and their feet, as they learn to step in and utilise head movements, while rolling out punches. Developing these skills in a shadow boxing drill is pivotal, as they will slip and roll, while throwing counter strikes. Stepping in and out of range, while gauging the right distance to defend, or attack with strikes is a huge benefit that shadow boxing can offer.
Athletes will significantly improve their balance, and their posture, while exercising. To formulate a great striking ability that incorporates speed, power, and accuracy, an athlete must step in with balance. This is the only way to fire off shots at their opponent, and by mimicking this situation in a shadow boxing drill, the athlete can significantly develop their technical abilities. Loss of energy can result in poor execution, and this can also force an athlete to lose balance. Holding a good posture will also help the athlete to keep their feet, especially in Muay Thai, as the clinch can be one of the best tools in a Thai Boxer's arsenal. Feet positioning will ensure the athlete has a better entry into any attack formation, and this is the same with defensive maneuvers. A postured base can also stifle an opponent's takedown attempt, and this is important for breaking the clinch.
Shadow boxing is a comprehensive workout system that offers an athlete the tactical advantage over their opponents. Shadow boxing is a diverse solo training system that can be utilised at a park, in the training academy, or in an athlete's home gym. Practising shadow boxing the right way will strengthen all of the athlete's major muscle groups, and it will give a significant boost to their cardiovascular fitness. These days athletes are a lot smarter than the old bull out of the gate fighters, as the Muay Thai tactician will use patience, coordination, speed, power, and strategy to out maneuver, and defeat all of their opponents inside the ring.
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