Friday, October 19, 2012

TRAINING: Shadowboxing Tips - part 3 by Stickgrappler

Excerpted from the now defunct


B&S posted:

Shadow Boxing Tips

I think this is possibly the hardest thing to learn. Over a year later I still look like a drunk retarded bear in a mosh pit if I try to do it with any speed at all. Particularly when I try to throw a hook. Any help, if only for my own vanity?

  • Part 1 had advice from Joe Silvia aka Ausgepicht - if you missed it, please read here.
  • Part 2 with Xen Nova's tips is here.

Will post Xen's 2nd reply after this post which is my advice.

OK, I wrote this without reading Xen's post. There may be overlap.


  1. Suppression of the Ego in training
  2. Work to flow, be in the moment, get in the zone
  3. Train slow before and acquire the technique before you perform it fast
  4. Find a model and follow along
  5. Try to do the technique with your other hand instead
  6. Do not compare yourself to others


I'm not qualified or experienced as the other Spladdlers. This is just my experience, approach and thinking. I am but a beginner. Please take my post for whatever it is worth.


Originally Posted by B&S View Post
... Over a year later I still look like a drunk retarded bear in a mosh pit if I try to do it with any speed at all. ...
I feel one of the hardest obstacles in training any martial artist (or anyone in any endeavor) has to overcome is the "Ego". By Ego I mean:

  • the feelings of hopelessness and frustration in not executing a technique to perfection
  • the feeling of looking silly in front of others
  • the conscious executions of technique

I truly feel the Ego is a disease, not just to martial arts training but even in everyday life. The Ego can get you in trouble e.g. in self-defense situations, work discussions, marital discussions, even parental discussions. If you don't control your Ego, others will be able to 'push your button' and control you. Training, be it partner training or shadowboxing/wrestling, for me is a fight vs my Ego.


I try, despite what Master Yoda says about "trying", to transcend the moment, the technique, the Ego. Easterners call this "Zen" and Westerners call this "in the 'Zone'". You have to flow, go with it… if you can't execute the hook, freeze frame yourself and do as Aus says, do a Q&A... run down the 'how to do a hook' checklist... were you in balance prior to throwing the hook; check your body position, feet position, hands position, etc. Check the list and see what is right and what is wrong. When you are in the Zone, everything is going right and you are not consciously thinking of doing the technique, the technique does "it" itself. The technique will manifest itself. If you have access to a video camera, film yourself. Sometimes as I physically perform the technique, I don't spot my own mistakes. If I watch someone else do something, I can spot something that may be off. Everyone does this… you watch a UFC fight and see a fighter make a mistake and lose the match as a result. With a video of yourself, perhaps you may be like me and will be able to spot the mistake(s). Once you identified the mistake(s), correct it, do it slow and eventually you can amp up the execution speed. In time you will be flowing and "it" does "it" itself and not you doing "it."


In the TMA subforum I posted about a training methodology that is used in Dog Brothers Martial Arts. It is called "Metronome Training." You know what a metronome is? In case you or other lurkers don't know, a metronome is used in music. It's a little machine that has an arm that swings left to right and then back from right to left. It makes a "tik" sound as it reaches one side and a "tok" on the other. It keeps time/tempo for music. Slow and steady, consistently at the same pace the arm will swing back and forth.

Guro Marc Denny says, "Slow down to the speed of what you don't know." (c) DBI  There should be no shame, no bad feelings, no guilty feelings of doing a technique millions of times in slow-motion. Slow it down and break the technique down to its individual components. There is no need to feel rushed to do it. You are ensuring that you have the correct/proper form in executing the technique flawlessly in which you then put in your 'flight time' as Paul Vunak calls it... put in your "10,000 reps/hours". While in the Technique Acquisition phase, most people feel the need to rush through the technique to stroke their Ego… they think they got 'it' if they can do 'it' fast and 'look good' while doing it. Just slow down and make sure you got it when doing it slow. Gradually and progressively work to up your speed. If you can't do it fast, better make sure you can do it Metronome speed… slow and steady. You don't need a metronome by the way, it's the idea of working at a slow and steady pace. You can count "Mississippi's" or "thousand's" until you instinctively know and can work at the steady rate/pace and have a sense of tempo.

Once you have the technique down pat in slow-motion, you can then work to 'install' it into muscle memory and do it faster until you are doing it real-time fast and get in your flight time with quality and not slipshod form. But make sure you "pwn" the technique at slow speed. Most people cannot hop on a bicycle and ride it a breakneck speed. You start with training wheels, ride slowly, able to control the bike and then start riding faster.


In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, there is the idea of Modelling. Find someone who does the technique perfect, in your case, the Hook. Some say Ken Norton had a great left hook. For argument's sake, you will use Norton as your model. You watch videos of his left hooks. Follow along with him as he performs the hook. Imagine/visualize yourself as him throwing the hook. Slow the video down frame by frame to see. It's said that Bruce Lee had film of Muhammad Ali and watched it frame by frame seeing Ali jabbing.

When I started training with the sticks, I made a VHS tape of Eric Knauss (aka Top Dog)… the first set of Dog Brothers Martial Arts videos is called 'Real Contact Stickfighting' and in Volume 1 - Power, there is a section of Top Dog doing reps of power swings. I made a vid of 3 sets of him doing 10 reps of one power strike. Then I copied video of him doing another power strike and another and one more strike (basic X strikes and + strikes). I popped in the VHS and followed along… I tried to visualize I was him doing the swings.

I think Aus can expand on the NLP front if need be but I'm sure you get the idea.


To be a well-rounded martial artist, one should also work their complementary hand instead of only working with their dominant hand. Some times, you will find you are able to pick up the technique faster with your dominant hand IF you worked with your complementary hand first! Re-read that sentence again!

If in your case, the Left Hook was giving you problems, perhaps try to work on your right hook. You start in orthodox lead (left lead) and after a 1-2 you do a left hook and it's not feeling/looking right. Try this: start in southpaw/unorthodox (aka right lead) and throw a right jab - left cross and finish with a right hook. Sometimes this works.

Speaking of the Ego, I am guilty of only training with my dominant hand in stickwork and knifework. My goal this year is to train my complementary hand for at least 6 months, hopefully my Ego is not that fragile and if I don't improve, work up to a year or more if need be. Working with the complementary hand can frag your mind/ego. You think you don't have the technique down when you do it with your dominant hand and you feel helpless and frustrated? Imagine doing the technique with your complementary hand instead!


We all learn at different paces (I'm a slowpoke and supersloooow learner), there is no barometer that says you have trained a year at boxing and your shadowboxing should look smooth. And don't ever compare yourself to others, especially someone who started about the same time as you or a little later than you. Don't ever let your Ego say to you, "I'm better than that guy/gal." or "I trained this X amount of time, I should be good." Humble your ego, tame your ego, suppress your ego!

The Chinese have a saying:


Yan bei yan, bei sei yan.

(Pronunciation in Cantonese)

Literally: Man-compare-man, compare-to die-man ... meaning Comparison to others will be the death of you.

Essentially, don't compare yourself to others. You will only hurt yourself. Compare yourself to yourself. You are not competing with others, you are competing with yourself. Training for me is training to tame my Ego, suppress the urge/need to acquire the technique rapidly, suppress the urge/need to be able to perform the technique and look cool doing it. Be sure your foundation/base is laid properly, do it slowly, until you got 'it'. Then you can put in your flight time/reps and 'look smooth and good'. That will come in due time. No need to rush the Technique Acquisition phase.

Props Body and Soul for being able to post publicly about this without succumbing to your Ego! You at least won that fight vs your Ego ;-) Forgive any typos or lack of clarity in my post. End-of-day-at-work-writing-to-relax-type-post. Good luck in your training and hope this post helped.

Next parts to this series can be found here:



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