Just because you can’t go to the gym doesn’t mean that you can’t keep up your martial arts training. Practical experience in martial arts classes and competitions might be the best way to learn as a martial artist, but they’re not the only way to learn. There are many solo martial arts drills that you can do from the comfort — and safety — of your own home that will keep your brain and your body sharp while you’re away from the dojo.
Between cold and flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic, we martial artists will have to be even more vigilant about protecting our health and the health of our community. Last week in the blog, we looked at tips to help us all practice better hygiene in our martial arts training. That’s a vital first step for fighting against illness, but not everyone will be able to train or feel comfortable training martial arts in a group setting in the coming weeks and months. So let’s talk about ways to safely and effectively continue your martial arts practice if we have to participate in social distancing.
If you’re staying home because you’re not feeling well, the best thing you can do for yourself as a martial artist — and as a human in general — is to rest! As we discussed last week, staying away from training while you’re sick doesn’t just protect your training partners’ health, it can also allow you to recover more quickly and easily. But if you’re feeling fine while you’re housebound, here are a number of grappling and striking martial arts drills that you can do on your own with minimal training equipment.
Solo Grappling Drills – No Equipment Required!
Partners are a particularly important part of the learning process if you train in a grappling-based martial art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, amateur wrestling, or even mixed martial arts. Working with a partner helps you to learn moves during technique training, and sparring with opponents allows you to apply what you’ve learned to practical settings. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost if you can’t train martial arts with a partner. In fact, grappling martial arts offer a whole world of sports-specific drills that will make your overall technique better by improving your agility, cardio, strength, and flexibility.
You might not be able to perfect your triangle choke if you don’t have anyone to practice it on, for example. But what you can do on your own is work on a triangle choke drill that will make your hips and core stronger, and make the motion involved in snapping that choke into place faster, more natural and more powerful. All of which will make your triangle choke that much better the next time you can work on it in class and sparring with a training partner.
Here’s a great collection of solo martial arts grappling drills that you can do with nothing more than workout clothes and a mat.
Solo Grappling Drills With Heavy Bags or Throwing Dummies
If you have a heavy bag that you can easily take down, or a throwing dummy in your home, you can also add position drills to your solo martial arts training routine. While not a perfect replacement for a fellow martial artist who can respond to your techniques in real time — while also making you defend against their own moves— a heavy bag or grappling dummy is still a great tool for working on your mat-based technique. Solo drills with this kind of martial arts equipment allow you to improve your timing, agility, cardio, and the precision of your moments from mount, side control, knee on belly, and and even guard.
From basic hip position work to fancy escape drills, here’s a great selection of heavy bag solo martial arts exercises to try at home:
If you don’t have a heavy bag or throwing dummy at home, you can also adapt some position drills for use with a stability ball:
For more ideas and information on this topic, check out our recent blog post “Solo Training and Throwing Dummies.”
Solo Boxing and Kickboxing Drills
Striking-based martial arts often involve bodyweight solo drills as part of their training. So if you participate in a martial art that involves punches, kicks, and/or knees, you’re probably already familiar with a number of exercises that you can do on your own! Shadowboxing, jump rope drills, footwork drills, and solo technique training can all be done at home alone with no or minimal martial arts equipment.
Here’s an example of a Muay Thai-inspired shadowboxing workout:
For more suggestions, see our blog post “Four Boxing Drills You Can Practice at Home With No Sparring Partner.”
Heavy Bag and Free-Standing Bag Drills for Martial Arts
If you have martial arts equipment like a heavy bag or a free-standing bag in your house, you can bring even more of your striking-based martial arts training home with you. Heavy bag drills and free-standing bag drills allow striking martial artists to work on their footwork, timing, technique, power, and cardio when training alone. Which will make you stronger and more prepared for pad work and/or sparring with your training partners when you can return to the gym.
Here are some heavy bag drills for boxing:
For more information on this martial arts equipment and training, see our blog post “Standing vs Hanging Bags: How to Train Differently and Which to Use.”