Training at Home

One of the best ways to improve within the martial arts is to practice outside the dojo. Class time is typically where you learn new material and get pointers on how your existing techniques and kata are developing. Class times range from half an hour to two hours or even longer in some cases. The number of times students attend class per week range from once to as many as five. However, there is rarely time to work on everything in class even for students attending several long classes per week.

While advanced students may have longer classes and be able to focus more easily during class, they too are not able to work all the various defenses, attacks, and kata required of them for their rank. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to improve is to set up a training schedule at home. This can be as little as half an hour per day or as long as several hours. Of course, most of us have school and homework or jobs and family that must come before training. Even with these important items, it is still possible to find time to set up a training schedule. Not only will it help you improve your martial arts, but it will also help you stay in shape or get into shape faster.

Let’s look at a simple 30-minute workout as an example. The first thing to be aware of is that you do not have to do the same workout every day. In fact, you should vary it for several reasons. First, you don’t want to get bored. If the workout is not interesting you will soon stop. Second, it will allow you to work on more techniques. Third, by changing the workout you change the muscle groups being worked.

Separate your workouts into 3 or 4 areas. These can be upper body, lower body, kata, combinations, development, stamina or other separations that work for you. Next, make a list of all the techniques you know or are learning, as well as the kata. Place the techniques under one of the separations that you listed earlier. For example, you might put punches and blocks under upper body. Kicks would go under lower body while stance changes could go under combinations. Combinations could also be multiple attack sequences. Put things that you are just learning under development.

Once you have everything listed and separated under the various categories, choose one or two from each area to work on that day. Let’s take blocks. If you pick upper block practice this block 50 or 100 times on each side. Next you might pick front kicks and do 50 or 100 of these on both the left and right. Continue selecting various items until you fill the 30 minutes. Don’t forget to leave time for short rests.

Kata is another issue. There are several ways to practice kata. One way is to build up to a “performance” level. This is done by performing the kata in 5 separate styles. First, walk through the kata without power and speed, just focus on general body movement and correct placement. Second, use power and tension only. Execute the form slowly but with power and tension while focusing on correct placement. Watch and feel your body, making sure the muscles and body parts move as they are supposed to, so you achieve the correct technique within the kata. Third, add speed. Don’t worry so much about correct placement and power but focus your mind on getting the block or punch out as fast as you can. Fourth, put the first three together. Execute the kata with power but increase the tempo as you did in the last rep of the kata. Finally, execute the kata as if you were being tested or in a tournament. Focus all your energy on the kata as a whole.

Other factors to remember for home workouts include stretching. It is important to stretch before and after a hard workout. You might also want to include running or other cardio exercises such as swimming or jumping rope to build stamina. Finally, don’t forget to have your instructor or a senior student look over your techinques that you have been working on at home. You want to make sure that what you are practicing is the correct way to practice.