Shadows of the children while they practice shadow boxing in a courtyard in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince, on 22 March 2016. One of the children is Jakenson, 13. Jakenson lives with his mother, Joona,in a small house in Cite Soleil, made with cans and wood. After the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, Jakenson and his mother came to live in Cite Soleil. Their previous home was destroyed. His mother has a small store in her home where she sells oil, rice and other products to neighbors, and uses the money from so she can pay the school(5000 gourdes per year, about 80 dollars). Jakenson's dream is to become a professional boxer and represent Haiti. The boxing school classes are run by Djaul, 25, who is an amateur boxer. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Co-authored with Dr. Alex Edmonds, Sports Psychologist

As the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) continues to evolve, so do the training methods employed.  There is a wealth of research that supports a variety of techniques regarding various aspects of fighter preparation for improving performance.  Combat sports-specific articles related to nutrition, strength & conditioning, psychology, bio-mechanics, and performance analysis can, in some cases, be found in volumes.  Absent from the academic journals, that have provided the foundation for many of the modern training techniques, are investigations of two of the most fundamental techniques used in combat sports for more than a century–shadow-boxing and bag work. Not only is a study of the benefits of these training techniques absent from the research, but both techniques are applied scarcely in modern day MMA.

How to Drastically Improve Your Striking (Part 1)

Deliberate Practice

While research specific to MMA may not exist, there is a plethora of research on the benefits of deliberate practice for building fluency (i.e. performing automatically and accurately) with any skill.  The key to becoming a proficient striker is through high-quality practice known as deliberate practice. That is, to engage in each aspect of striking, become proficient with that aspect through coaching feedback and high reps, then progressively putting it all together and expanding and building upon these skills.

Training to become a better striker includes many types of practice scenarios including one-on-one practice with a coach or sparring with a partner. However, the focus of this article is to highlight the importance of other training aspects of striking we contend are not emphasized and utilized enough in MMA (i.e. shadow-boxing and bag work).

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