Not all of your martial arts training has to take place at the gym or in your home training space.
Some of it can take place in your mind.
If that sounds a little too out there for you, don’t worry! We’re not talking about giving up on physical training in favour of imagining yourself doing battle on cosmic planes. Technique training, sparring, and competition are still the best way to learn a martial art. But they’re not the only way you can learn more about your discipline and make meaningful progress in your martial arts journey.
Sometimes life gets in the way of going to the gym as much as you’d like. Other times you get sick or injured and need to take time off. And other times you need to rest your body, because that’s a vital part of training, too. And when that happens, it’s nice to know that you have other options available to you.
Here are six ways that you can train your mind when your body needs a break — and some suggestions for martial arts educational resources that will help you get your brain in fighting shape.
Read A Book
Books have the ability to open your mind and expand your world. Martial arts books are no exception. You don’t even have to read something that specifically addresses your discipline or your current training goals. Any book related to the topic has the potential to expose you to new ideas and get you to approach your own training from a fresh perspective. Training guides. Historical accounts. Philosophy texts. Biographies of influential martial artists. Cross-training tips. Books about and featuring material written by martial arts masters themselves, like Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition and Tao of Jeet Kune Do: Expanded Edition.They all have the power to make you a stronger thinker and a stronger martial artist.
Pick Someone Else’s Brain
Whether you’re having a general chat, or tackling a specific issue that’s on your mind, talking to other people who have martial arts knowledge is another great opportunity to gain a different perspective and look at your training in a new light. See if your sensei has a few minutes to chat about a technique or concept that’s been on your mind. Compare notes with a trusted training partner — or a respected rival if you have one. Join a message board dedicated to martial arts and make a post about something. (The internet can be very hit and miss, but there are good people and quality conversations out there!)
Every talk and every question asked and answered can contribute to your understanding of martial arts and help you grow.
Tell A Friend
If you don’t have anyone with martial arts knowledge to chat with, you can still benefit from talking martial arts, though. Explaining a concept to someone else is actually a proven learning method. Having to take what you know about a concept and explain it to someone else in a way that makes sense and engages them helps to deepen your own understanding.
So if you know someone who is curious about martial arts — or you know someone who isn’t particularly invested themselves but likes to support your interests — try telling them a little bit about an aspect of your martial arts training that you’ve been working on, or something you’d like to improve. Maybe reframing it and sharing it with new audience could lead to a breakthrough!
Watch A Video
Watching an instructional DVD or a YouTube video is another great opportunity to see aspects of your martial arts training through new eyes. If you’re feeling unmotivated or in a rut, watching videos about techniques you haven’t tried yet can get you to start thinking about your future and how much learning and discovery is still ahead for you in your martial arts journey.
If you’re stuck on something in particular in your training, watching a number of different martial artists and different instructors explain it could be what you need to make that breakthrough. Sometimes all it takes is a slightly different description or theory to make a martial arts technique click.
Make Or Buy A Poster
If you don’t have the time or mental energy for more intense and focused martial arts research, there are also some more passive options. You could make yourself a vision board or a motivational poster and hang it in your at home martial arts training space, or in your room. The act of making the poster can help you to focus on your goals and what you want to do with your current martial arts training, and having it around in the background can casually remind you as you go about your days.
Taking some time to think about your martial arts training can also have a positive effect on your performance. This practice can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be. If you’ve got the time and want to get really serious about your visualization, you can invest in a set of jigsaw mats, set up a proper meditation space, and put together a structured program to help you work through what you want to accomplish in your next training session or martial arts competition.
If you’re looking for something a little less serious, try dedicating a few minutes to thinking about where you are in your martial arts journey and where you want to go next before you go to sleep each night. Every little bit counts and, over time, can add up to make big and meaningful changes in your martial arts career.