BEN DAVISON - SHADOW BOXING
On Saturday Feb 4, REAL had the utmost pleasure of attending a masterclass of pure substance given by Ben Davison and hosted by Bermondsey Boxing Club.
Ben Davison has a global reputation as one of the finest boxing coaches plying his trade in the sport today. Ben began his coaching career working with Billy Joe Saunders and is probably best known for his involvement in Tyson Fury’s comeback from excessive weight, depression and alcohol abuse. Ben’s stable currently includes former WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood but he guided Josh Taylor to 140lb undisputed status and assisted in Devin Haney’s route to undisputed at light-weight. He is expected to link up with former two-weight world champion Billy Joe Saunders when he has a comeback fight later in 2023.
Ben invited us all to begin with some shadow boxing. If you’re unfamiliar with shadow boxing, it requires no equipment and just your imagination. Shadow boxing is a fun and effective training tool. It can be a warm-up, a cardio workout and a cool down for both body and mind. Your mind creates the roadmap for your body to follow.
Before we took our stance, he impressed upon us to box ‘with intent’ - visualise your opponent, visualise their movement and visualise where your punches land. This is to make the scenario as realistic as possible.
As we grounded our feet, established our movements and began letting our hands go, Ben circled the studio with a watchful eye and interpreted what our movements told him about what our opponent was doing. It was key for Ben that we displayed a sense of anticipation and adaptation to what our ‘shadow’ opponent was doing, expressed by our own movements. This heightened our sense of self-awareness and focus. What might my stance or my guard say to an opponent for example?
Ben opened our minds to the notion of ‘having a conversation’ with your opponent. Naturally all discourse expressed purely through body language rather than words, but learning to think on our feet (pun intended!), we began reflecting on what positions were defensive and aggressive - what stances or guards were an invitation to your opponent to attack and what were a statement of your own attacking intent. This was an easy lesson to relate to, it made sense and was an instant lift to our boxing IQ.
After this introductory exercise, Ben explained his philosophy that training has to be as relevant and applicable as possible, at all times. We can all be the hero in our own stories when we shadow box and we can all have fun exercising our imagination, but fundamentally we are working with an opponent. We are probing for information and banking what we get back, before we can be a step ahead.
Your hands are your tools. They can be defensive and offensive, while also triggering false anticipation in your opponent. There are infinite combinations in boxing, but at whatever level you are keep your shadow boxing realistic. Those who know their way from one punch to the next with quick reflexes will be able to defend, move, and counterpunch seamlessly. Shadow boxing is a dress rehearsal, so keep it simple and practise throwing 3-4 punches in a row maximum. You are very rarely going to land more than 3 punches consecutively without a retaliation from your opponent, so get used to throwing and then moving two of the following three at the same time; head, hands and feet. As long as you are moving at least two of these three body parts at any given point in time; you will be very hard to hit.
Always shadow box with intent. Visualisation involves creating a mental image of what you "intend" to happen. Athletes use these skills to envision the outcome they are pursuing. Visualise your opponent, visualise your movement and visualise where your punches land. Visualise success.
Whatever your level of experience, ability or appetite for non-contact and contact boxing, The Boxing House currently own three (soon-to-be-four) state-of-the-art boxing studios across London. Based on the success of their formula, are expanding and their influence within the boxing ecosystem continues apace. Boxing masterclasses led by the likes of Ben Davison, Johnny Nelson, George Groves, Adam Booth and Daley Perales are just a taste of what The Boxing House exclusively offers to anyone with a thirst to learn about the sweet science. Nobody else offers access to this level of learning in the Capital.