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Home Exercises for Martial Arts

Some aspects of home martial arts training, such as those required to perform a particular technique, are specific to a particular martial arts. Others involving overall physical fitness and endurance are likely to improve performance in most styles. You can target your home workouts to improve both aspects of your training.

Establish Goals

Before you start, determine exactly what you want to accomplish during your home workouts. If you want to improve your ability to perform specific martial arts techniques, the best way is to have an expert demonstrate the correct form before you begin to practice it on your own. If that isn’t possible, you could study instructional videos and books. Although these can provide useful information, they cannot provide essential feedback for you. Spending time training with a good coach or teacher is highly recommended for learning proper form and technique as well as the principles behind the art you are studying. For yor home training, determine whether you want to improve your strength, speed, endurance, flexibility or all of them.


Many martial arts, including jujitsu, aikido, judo and hapkido, recognize the importance of learning how to fall safely. If this is one of your goals, obtain a mat or prepare a soft surface on which you can practice falling and rolling safely. Hard martial arts such as karate and tae kwon emphasize striking techniques. A heavy bag hung from the ceiling or from a tree branch outdoors can be a great asset in the development of your kicking and punching abilities. Practice with a speed bag will increase your hand speed and coordination. Many practitioners find that basic strength training is crucial to their success. Weightlifting workouts targeting both upper and lower body muscles may improve your performance providing you maintain flexibility by stretching regularly.

Practice Breathing

Proper breathing techniques are crucial in the martial arts. Without them, you will quickly tire. Practice efficient, deep breathing by consciously moving your diaphragm in and out. Your abdomen, not your upper chest, should expand with breath in and contract with each breath out. This will bring more air deeper into your lungs. It is more efficient than taking shallow breaths by raising your upper chest. Breathe in when you move and prepare to execute a technique. Practice breathing out when you exert yourself, for example when punching, kicking, or throwing a real or imaginary opponent.

Find Workout Partner

Martial arts are, by definition, activities designed for interactions between people. You can increase your general fitness and improve your technique by practicing alone at home, but eventually you will need to practice your techniques with another person. If you study at a martial arts school or Dojo, you may get enough practice working with others there. If you're training on your own, find someone who shares your interest, even if he or she is not as proficient as you. While far less than ideal, safe, slow motion practice in a controlled manner with someone willing to serve as a stand-in will help you identify problems with your techniques. Remember to always put your partner’s safety first.

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About the Author

Dean A. Haycock has been a freelance science and medical writer since 1993. He is the author of "The Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia," "The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder, 2nd edition" and coauthor of "Overcoming Complications of LASIK and Other Eye Surgeries." Haycock has a Doctor of Philosophy in neurobiology from Brown University.

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