Perhaps the hardest thing for any martial artist is to keep your fighting skills growing at home. After all, most of the time there’s no partner to train with or sensei to tell you what to do.
Instead, you’ve got to do it all First, you have to find the motivation to train on a regular basis. As any experienced couch potato knows, inertia is a powerful force. Without a regular practice to attend, whether in a dojo, park or anywhere else, that motivation seems to come and go. Because it’s all up to you and that little voice inside your head — not to mention the dedication and self-discipline you bring to bear to make it happen.
So if you want to keep your fighting skills alive and growing, the first place you need to start is deciding when and where, then setting a schedule you can keep and sticking to it.
Throughout my training we always had three practices a week. I told my students two were to stay where you were; the third was to keep growing.
I recommend it to you, too. But you know yourself better than I do. What are you willing to do? What can you do? What will you do?
Now if you’re getting up in years (let’s say over 50 to be kind, but home training can continue the rest of your life, whatever your age), your body is going to have a lot to say over what it can tolerate, and the price it will make you pay to do it.
Two of my teachers (both over 70 but still training) have paid the toll. One with a knee replacement and the other with both hips replaced (though probably in his 50s or 60s when they were). And though I’ve avoided those so far, I’ve got a whole host of my own issues to work around that I’m reminded of after every workout, and sometimes for days later. In short, the residual effect of all our years of hard training takes it’s toll, and any schedule you set must take into account the price you’re willing to pay to do what you love.
To boot, home training may not only be on your martial skills and techniques. You may find you need a regular regimen of strength, endurance and flexibility work just to have the ability to stick to your schedule and do the training you want to do.
For me, I find it best to do a light warmup before home karate training, and leave those more-intense physical things for off days. That’s because as I age, I find my body reacts better to several shorter sessions than long, grueling ones that try to cover everything. Even then, ice, analgesics and anti-inflammatories have become essential training aids.
Be sure to accommodate any injuries or physical restrictions when you train. There’s no shame in realizing you can do high kicks any more and focusing instead on low ones. Our bodies change, and our training needs to adapt accordingly. When in doubt what you can or should do, consult your doctor.
This post is getting rather long and I haven’t even started on the actual training yet. Oh, well, such is the life of a long-winded sensei who takes forever to write what he could say in person in a few words.
Yet the training remains what it’s all about. I recommend after your warm-up starting off with some basics, some at half-speed and then full speed. Get your form down as best you can. That will keep your techniques sharp.
Then include some movement using a variety of stances, blocks, strikes and kicks. Straight ahead. Diagonals. Moving backwards. Up and down. Do whatever you can think of to move smoothly and fluidly in and out of stances, and from one to another. It will keep your legs strong and your skills growing.
Shadow boxing, particularly in front of a mirror or reflecting window, is perhaps the best exercise for fighting skills. But be sure not to get in a rut. Incorporating a variety of offense and defense, hand and get, upper and lower, works best.
Finally, be sure to work in some form work. Gichin Funokoshi would do all his katas every morning. While I still do it occasionally, it can be exhausting for an old man. I suggest focusing on one or two.
If you know any other styles or arts, like Tai chi or others, work those into the routine. However, they may be best practiced in a session separate from your kata work, since the hard and soft can be difficult to switch back and forth between.
If you’ve got anything left, try meditating. And if not, work it into other times of your day or do it on off days. If important to grow your mind and inner skills as well.
If you’re into the inner ways, head over to my WhisperZone.org website where I have a lot of materials on inner development and the spiritual path. It will open your eyes to a whole new side of things.
Well, I guess that’s it for today. Don’t forget to go to GojuatHome.com for training ideas and to review your goju-ryu foundations. Can’t let those fall by the wayside just because you’re training at home.