I hope you’re all doing well in these strange times. I know lots of you will still be in various states of lockdown and hence it will not be possible to train hands-on at the moment. In difficult times, it can become all too easy to focus on what you can’t do. However, it’s always more productive to focus on what you CAN do.
It is still possible to make significant progress toward your training goals. Additionally, training can provide a touchstone of normality in these abnormal times. That, along with the mental and physical health benefits of exercise, can be very beneficial in making the world in which we find ourselves as pleasant as is possible.
I have some basic lockdown training ideas for you that I hope you will find useful.
IMPROVE YOUR KATA: The traditional kata were designed for solo practise! They are perfect for these times! Choose one or two kata to focus on and commit to improving them as much as possible before the end of lockdown. I would advise against doing the kata all the way through all the time. Instead, work your way through, section by section, trying to improve each section a little each time; then do the kata straight through at end the session. Learn to self-correct by being very aware of what you should be doing vs. what you are actually doing. The improved levels of body awareness will greatly help your progress in all elements of your martial arts. Try to get feedback from instructors and training partners via online training and then work on the areas that need improving. Failing that, video yourself doing a given section and then watch it back. What are the discrepancies between the movement as you thought you were doing it and what you see on video?
SHADOW SPAR: Whilst sparring with a partner may not be possible at the moment, you can still maintain and develop your movement skills and stamina! Shadow sparring is great for that! Mix it up a little so you may do one round on footwork only, one round of just hand techniques, one round of just kicks, one round of hands and feet, one round of specific combinations and counters, etc. Mix it up to include defensive techniques, elbows, knees, trapping, solo-throws, ground fighting movements, etc. Switch the contexts up too! Do some rounds in the context of consensual fighting, and then do others where you think more about the self-protection context and include multiple enemies, weapons, escape, dialogue, the surrounding environment, etc. Use a timer / app on your phone to time out the rounds (1 min, 90 seconds or 2 mins, with a rest period that makes you work hard without overdoing it). It’s very important to visualise what is going on and create an immersive experience! Lots of very beneficial ways to train and lots of variety too!
IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS: Now could be a good time to do some supplementary fitness training! Run, skip, follows some online workouts, etc. Maybe invest in some home weights, resistance bands, kettlebells, sandbag, etc to improve your strength and muscular endurance. If you can, put up a punch bag and work on your power, technique and stamina. When you get back in the dojo, your improved fitness will maximize your performance and progress.
IMPROVE YOUR FLEXIBILITY: Do a little stretching each day and it all builds up! You can multitask with stretching too. Do it while watching TV or listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks. It will take no extra time out of your day and it will help improve your technique, efficiency of movement and it will help you avoid injury. You could emerge from lockdown more flexible than when it started!
STUDY: If the lockdown is giving you more time on your hands, use that time productively. Read martial arts books, watch martial arts videos, research technique, training methods, history, etc. Such study will deepen your martial arts and expand your horizons.
GET AN ONLINE TRAINING PARTNER: Reach out to your clubmates and ask if any of them want to do some online training via zoom, etc. You can go through things together, correct each other’s technique, share information, etc. One fun drill is to have one person feed techniques towards the camera while the other counters! All the benefits of shadow sparring, but it’s more fun because of the reactive element.
AND LOADS MORE! There are tons of way to productively train at the moment. As I’ve said before, don’t think of this as lockdown, but as a “virally mandated solo training retreat” :-)
All the best,