As a martial artist and Krav Maga expert, I’ve always known the importance of shadow fighting. You may know it as ‘shadow boxing’, but given that we can use all our tools (legs, elbows, head, etc) in Krav Maga, it’s appropriate to call it shadow fighting instead. The thing is, as much as I’ve known the importance of shadow fighting for Krav Maga, I’ve spent a large part of my life only doing it as a warmup here and there. Later I learn that I’ve been neglecting one of the best tools available for my development!
Having been super disciplined and now being able to say that I’ve done it for more than a few years, almost every single day, I can tell you that it is probably the single most important exercise for you to develop your Krav Maga ability. Yet, are you doing it? Probably not.
Actually I know loads of Krav Maga Instructors who tell their students to do it, but then don’t do it enough themselves. This is the sad reality!
I’ve written this article to explain first the benefits and the ‘why?’ of this exercise. I will continue later with the how, the common issues and the various methods you can use, with follow up articles and potentially videos too. Please feel free to contact me to contribute, or if you need any help with your training.
For now, I’d like to explain why it’s so important.
You will own your Krav Maga techniques and form!
Far too many Krav Maga students just show up at class once or twice a week and then don’t do anything else for their development in their own time. I see students who have come and gone for weeks and months, not improving their strikes and tools each week as they should. The culprit? Not enough practice.
Shadow fighting is a way for you to really own your own Krav Maga techniques and forms. You will spend time doing the repetitions, improving your attributes and adding to your database of combat training. You know the saying that it takes 10000 repetitions to perfect a skill? Well, if you’re only training Krav Maga once or twice a week, and only end up doing say ‘200 punches’ in that time, then over a period of a year you will be close to the 10000 repetitions. However if you did shadow fighting regularly and threw an extra 500 punches a week, you would effectively reach a level of basic mastery a lot sooner.
It amazes me how people don’t see this and just rely on their classes. The more you spend shadow fighting, the more likely your form will embody you, and you will automatically perform techniques correctly and efficiently over time.
This is when Bruce Lee’s comment is true:
‘When there is an opportunity, I do not hit – it hits all by itself.’
After time, you’ll notice that you develop an autopilot mode built with good habits and a strong foundation, ready to make the kill shot if necessary! Shadow fighting is the tool to help you get there and builds a foundation ready for Krav Maga sparring, scenario drills and just general excellence in training.
You will become one with your Krav Maga!
Let’s face it, shadow fighting is hard. A lot of students have a hard time doing it because they feel awkward, like someone is watching them. Learning to shadow fight is a challenge, but I’m going to show you how to develop this skill along the way, so don’t worry.
What I tell people is this, ‘Shadow fight often and you’ll become one with your Krav Maga. Go past the awkwardness and there is light’. What I mean is that most students don’t realise that over time that awkwardness will disappear. You just need to do it often and over time you’ll feel purposeful and see the context.
To top it off the habit of shadow fighting will build muscle memory, it will improve your balance and movement and highly advance your Krav Maga attributes.
Shadow Fighting Is A Great Mindfulness Practice
Shadow fighting is a tool to practice mindfulness and it’s right up there with Meditation, Yoga or Capoeira training. Mindfulness is when you’re aware of the present moment: your surroundings, your actions, your thoughts and feelings, in this case related to shadow fighting.
In this day and age, we’re distracted by everything and ultimately a lack of focus can be bad for our lives. Shadow fighting builds the important attribute of mindfulness and this translates to not only better Krav Maga skills, but to better performance in your everyday life. You will develop a strong focus through this practice!
This mindful practice is a discipline and once you’ve learned to shadow fight, maintain it and become more and more mindful, you will feel a great sense of advancement. This skill breeds success and you might get addicted!
Mindfulness is an important skill to develop. It can do wonders for your everyday life, as well as for your performance as a Krav Maga practitioner.
Build Discipline With Shadow Fighting
Self-discipline is freedom! Being able to achieve what you want over time gives you a feeling of success. Doing the actions each day builds character and ultimately you’ll gain discipline with regular shadow fighting.
For me, it’s propelled me forward to add more and more disciplines. It’s helped me push other tasks and boundaries, always looking for more ways to better myself through this and other disciplines. Ultimately it feels amazing!
Build Your Fitness & Stamina
Shadow fighting is a good workout! Obviously it depends how you do it and we’ll get to that in future expansion to this article. However overall you’ll find that if you do this right, you’ll develop huge endurance and stamina. Your techniques will not only be sharper but they’ll be smoother, faster and more powerful.
Shadow fighting will get you fitter and help you get ripped. It’s a really solid tool for improving your fitness as it generally combines LISS (low intensity solid state training) and HITT (high intensity interval training). I’m looking forward to explaining more about this in the next advancement of this article. Stay tuned for that and enjoy yourself!
Anyhow, there we have it, some of the benefits of regular shadow fighting practice for Krav Maga!
Written by Chief Instructor, Kurt Colpan