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How to balance martial arts training with other types of exercise

Long time reader Wim asks: How to balance martial arts training with other types of exercise

“To train in martial arts is harder than most people think. You have to train your strength, you have to run and of course you have to train martial arts. So how does someone who has to work a full time job and raise kids balance their martial arts training with other types of exercise?”

Great question Wim. I know a lot of people will be struggling with this problems so I will share with you a few techniques that I have learned along the way.

How to balance martial arts training with other types of exercise

I think the source of this problem is Bruce Lee. It was Bruce Lee who popularised cross training with martial artists. Because of him every martial artist now lifts weights, runs, jumps rope, stretches as well as training their traditional kata or form. Back in the old days in China or Japan the martial artists pretty much just practiced their own art without these other types of exercise. Now, however, we feel the need to do all these other types of exercise to improve our martial arts skills.

Whether this is right or wrong I won’t touch on here.


What I will touch on are some thoughts I have on the matter of balancing your martial arts training with other types of exercise.


  1. Realise that we don’t have as much time

Can you imagine a Shaolin Monk in ancient China getting up at 6am, feeding the kids, shaving, getting ready for work and then coming home and doing 6 hours of kung fu?




It simply wasn’t like that back then. These monks were so good at kung fu because they dedicated their whole lives to training their art. They didn’t have families. They didn’t have jobs. They just trained and meditated.


We cannot do that.


So the first step is to realize that we don’t have as much time as the Shaolin monks or as millionaire celebrities like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or Jet Li. With our limited time we can only work with what we are given. And if that is only one hour per day then we have to accept that.


  1. Set your goals in stone

Martial artists often try to do too many things at once. They are good at many things but master of none. For example, a karate student might start lifting weights so that his legs are stronger but then realizes that he is spending more time lifting weights than he is training karate. When this happens it means you have lost sight of your goal.


If you write down your goal and always remember it then you will be less likely to lose your way.


For example, if you want to be the best kick boxer in the state then you must remember that kick boxing comes first. Weight training doesn’t come first. Running doesn’t come first. Kick boxing comes first. And while these other types of exercise will help you develop your kick boxing skills, they can also lead you astray.


Always make sure you devote more time to your establish goal than to the other types of exercise.


  1. Get up 15 minutes earlier

Getting up 15 minutes earlier is not hard. If you get up at 6:30am to go to work you will have no trouble getting up at 6:15am. And in those 15 minutes you can get a lot of work done.


For example, if you are struggling to find time to work on your kata or martial arts form then you can spend 15 minutes in the morning going over it again and again and again. Me and my mates used to do this in high school. We’d get up early before school, do the basic kata for 15 minutes straight and then run through each move once. While is doesn’t sound like much on paper it is a lot of work. It boosted our fitness levels and it sharped our technique such that our kata was always better than the other students in the class.


The same goes for kick boxing or boxing. If you want to work on your left roundhouse kick then get up 15 minutes early and throw 100 kicks into the heavy bag before breakfast. If you want to work on your left uppercut then do the same thing.


You can get a lot done in 15 minutes.


  1. Write down a set routine

There is a tendency for martial artists who are dabbling in other types of exercise to waft around for hours not really doing anything. For example, if you are lifting weights to improve your strength you should make sure your weight lifting session is as focussed as your martial arts session.


In a martial arts class there is a set routine. You come in, warm up, do the basic katas, basic moves and then maybe have a spar and go home. Why should the other exercises be any different?


If you want to get more done try writing down a routine and stick to it. Write down exactly what exercises you are going to do, how long you are going to do them for and so on.


  1. Evaluate yourself all the time

If you are not improving every week then you are doing something wrong. It is very important to look back at what you have been doing and see if it has helped you with your goals.


If your goal is to get faster punches and your punches are the same as they were six weeks ago then you probably have been spending too much time doing those other types of exercise. This is a great way to determine how much you should be doing of any given exercise.


For example, if your kicks are the same as they were last month then you haven’t been doing enough kicking. If your fitness is the same as it was last month then you haven’t been doing enough cardio. And so on.


This also applies to establishing whether or not a routine has been working for you. For example, if you want to add some strength and have been doing a kettlebell workout for six months and seen few results then perhaps it is time to switch to heavy weights instead.


We must constantly evaluate ourselves and make changes. Meanwhile, if you feel stress, there are suggestions from mental health professionals to help you relax. One way to chill is to play irish online casinos. It’s so easy to made with casinos that accept trustly payments.


About the Author

Theo Lit is a martial arts enthusiast and occasional freelance journalist.

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