During the COVID19 pandemic, many martial arts students were forced to train at home. Some were lucky enough to have live virtual classes, pre-recorded lessons, or other training methods provided to them from the studio they train at. Even before the outbreak altered our way of life, training at home was still an essential part of becoming a lifelong student in martial arts. I have put together below, ten tips for successful at home training, in no particular order. I hope you find these helpful.
- Stick to a set schedule
When you trained at a studio, there were set class times. You knew Monday/Wednesday at 6pm was my training time. Now that you are training on your own at home, there is more flexibility and less structure. The flexibility can be good to a certain extent but if you want to stick with something, setting up a consistent schedule and training routine will go a long way in ensuring your success.
- Have a clear plan for at least 2 weeks ahead of time
It is very likely your instructor had several weeks if not months of classes planned out ahead of time. This was to ensure all of the curriculum was taught to every student in order for them to progress and improve. If you are now training at home, you need to chart your course. I recommend planning at least 2 weeks in advance. You will be less likely to stick with training if you are coming up with what to do on the fly. Plan out and write out the topic you want to work on for 4-6 classes at a time. You will look forward to training because you know what you want to accomplish. It will also help keep you on track as you are progressing through a plan you created.
- Set a goal
Your instructor has probably told you numerous times the importance of setting goals for yourself. Now that you are training at home, this is even more important. Goals help motivate you and keep you on track. They are specific and have a timeline associated to them. You need to have a clear objective to your training and not just exercise. Be sure your goals are doable. Rather than setting a goal of learning the entire black belt curriculum in one month, set a smaller, more manageable goal of learn the movements of the next form this month. If that was easy, set your next goal to be tougher. If it was unmanageable, bring your next goal back down to reality a bit. Adjust your goals as needed but don’t give up on them completely. Don’t beat yourself up for not meeting a goal. Simply evaluate and make adjustments.
- Challenge yourself
Tip 3 above was to set a goal. This tip is similar in some ways. Setting a goal is one way of challenging yourself. You need to go into every lesson with the following 3 things in mind: get a great workout, learn something new, and have fun. Challenge yourself to do more pushups than you did last time or maybe to do one more set of kicks or spend an extra 5 minutes working on your flexibility. If you try to challenge yourself every lesson, you’ll see way more improvement and stay motivated longer.
- Get a partner
Training by yourself is boring, even for those extreme introverts like me. Having someone to train with is a lot more fun and is something to look forward to. Grab your mom or dad and ask them to join you. Get your brother or sister off the couch to practice with you. Call up a friend or ask your neighbor. The person doesn’t have to be an active student in martial arts, just having someone along your side makes training much more enjoyable. This is one of the reasons many people enjoy training at a studio; they greatly value the friendship and community of their fellow martial artists. If you bring this to your home training, you can strengthen your family bond while exercising the mind and body.
- Teach someone something
Who feels confident when they are teaching someone something really cool? Everyone! Once you achieved one of your goals, pick a small aspect of it and teach someone else what you’ve learned. This will not only be exciting and fun, it will also be challenging and take what you’ve learned to the next level. You may find that you don’t know something as well as you thought you did. Don’t make it too challenging for the person you are teaching, especially if they are not a martial arts student. Teach them something that takes only 5-10 minutes to learn. They may come back for more and now you have a training partner!
- Learn something totally new
For this tip, I don’t mean learn the next form or self-defense technique in your style’s curriculum, although that is not a bad idea if you are feeling idle at home. I mean learn something totally new. It doesn’t need to be a physical skill. Perhaps you have always been interested in the history of the founder of your style. Find a book and start reading. Maybe you have always been into weapons forms but your style is limited in that respect. Find a video and start learning. By doing something that really excites you, it will help motivate you to stick with all aspects of your training.
- Dress the part
I don’t mean go train in a ninja turtle costume or dress up as your favorite power ranger. I do mean that you should put your uniform and belt on if not all the time, then at least most of the time. Every time you put that uniform and belt on, you should feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. Even if you are at home by yourself, you represent something when you put that uniform and belt on. You are representing your studio, your instructor, all the people you’ve trained with past and present, and people who have trained in your style throughout history. It is a big deal. If you treat it as such you will feel a sense of pride and obligation to train hard and stick with it.
- Use all resources available: books, DVDs, youtube, etc.
Bust out the DVD or VHS player and learn some tricks from some pros. OK, it is more likely you will go to youtube but the concept is still the same. Use all the resources at your disposal. There are a lot of great books, videos, and magazines out there that can help you in just about every aspect of training. It is also inspiring sometimes to see people doing awesome things you want to be able to do whether its aerial kicks and tricks for teens or flexibility types for the more senior crowd.
- Free your mind
As Morpheus said to Neo in the Matrix, “Free your mind”. During class at many studios there are rituals such as bowing and mediation. It is important to maintain these rituals when training at home. Meditating for only one minute prior to and immediately after training can have a profound impact. You will be able to clear your mind (which is especially important these days) and have a focused training session.
I hope these tips help you maintain your training regimen! If you have any questions or comments, feel free contact me.