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10 Minute Workout for Martial Arts Training

Martial Artists become good at their craft because they train outside of the Dojo. This training does not require lots of time and surprising results can be obtained with just 10 minute session every day.

Speaking as someone who started in their late teens and is now approaching 50, I can personally attest that this type of training has been the norm for me for twenty years or more. Sometimes my training is just mental or theoretical and other times it is physical. Over the year my mind’s eye has been trained such that I can visualize minute detail in an action be it Kata, Grab Defenses, Kicking Drills, or Weapons.

The reason I bring up the mental aspect of training in these ten minute segments is that it can be done most anywhere; whereas the physical side will require you to have space to move about.

One of my favorite mental drills is to take an action such as a Kata or Poomse (Pumsae) and do it in my head. As I do the form I don’t focus on doing the moves as if I am standing and practicing on the floor. Instead I move my point of vision or observation to look at different aspects of what I see my body doing. I also try and mentally feel the moves along my body. As an example, if the Kata requires you to slide backwards into a back stance I can change my point of reference and look at my hips, feet, shoulders, and any other piece I wish to observe. I can also feel the muscles firing and joints rotating.

This type of training lets you focus on the nuances of a technique from both the doer and the observer. You are able to correct your perceived actions and make changes immediately. A secondary bonus of this mental training is that it lets you critique other people very quickly by comparing your mind’s eye version to the viewed version.

The physical side of training in short time segments helps reinforce active skill sets. The more times we do a motion the easier it is to repeat the same motion without conscious provocation. Taking time out of your day to do twenty punches and 20 kicks along with your Kata 2 times will have a profound effect on your skill. Not only do you get some physical activity out of the action you also continually pattern your physical movements into rote muscle memory. And doing these actions away from the Dojang reinforces the concept that your martial art training does not only take place within the walls of the Dojo.

To breakdown how to begin developing your 10 minute program I would recommend starting with your written curriculum. Separate out the requirements by functional group. E.g. kicks, punches, blocks, grabs, Kata…… Whatever you do, be sure to work all aspects of your skill set. This is to include the offensive and the defensive perspective.

Now look at how these groups interrelate to other belt level work. The concept of a front kick is the same for white and brown belt. What tends to change is the method in which the kick is setup and movement afterwards.

It is possible to just slap together some form of quick skills and that can be a good place to start. Everyone needs to focus on basics. However, the more time you spend in developing a working methodology for known skills and how to add new skills the better your time will be spent.

As an example:

Simple 10 minute workout

  • 10 front kicks – both legs
  • 10 round kicks – both legs
  • 10 reverse punches – both sides
  • Kata three times

More developed 10 minute workout

  • Back fists then rolling into a round kick followed by back fist – both sides 10 times
  • Blocks flow drill – Learn all your blocks as a single flow pattern and practice the pattern 10 times
  • Slow breathing exercises while practicing your straight punch from horse stance – both sides

Twenty years ago I would say write each “10 minute workout” on an index card and carry one card with you each day. As you have time pull it out of your pocket and do the drills. But given modern smart phones, create a document on your phone and use that instead. And if you really wanted to be wired, go to your online calendar and pre-schedule each drill for a different day. You can then have the calendar send an announcement to your phone every day.