Taking your martial arts training outside has always been a fun option for martial artists looking for a chance of pace during the summer months, but outdoor martial arts training has become more popular than ever this year. Social distancing restrictions are being eased in many parts of the world, but gyms remain off limits in many places. Even where gyms are open, not everyone might feel comfortable training in close contact in indoor spaces just yet. For martial artists who aren’t ready to return to the gym, but are interested in training with a trusted partner — or performing solo drills a recommended distance away from their classmates — parks and other open outdoor spaces provide a promising alternative.
That doesn’t mean that we encourage everyone to run outside and train with their whole team right now. Our health and the health of those around us should be our number one priority. Part of being a good martial artist is being responsible to ourselves and our communities, after all. As long as you and your training partners are taking the right precautions and following all of the most current regulations and guidelines for your area, though, we’d like to help you get the most out of your outdoor martial arts training.
Let’s start by looking at what you’ll need to pack for your outdoor martial arts class:
If you’re training in grappling arts like wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and MMA, you’ll definitely want to put some padding between yourself and the ground. A set of four jigsaw mats will give you enough coverage to work on solo martial arts drills in outdoor spaces — and be small and portable enough for you to carry to and from your training location. For partner drills, aim to bring six to eight pieces.
Even if you’re training in striking arts like boxing or kickboxing, or focusing on standup techniques, it can’t hurt to bring a yoga mat or a couple of jigsaw mat pieces along to make your warmup and cooldown more comfortable. In addition, mats are a great visual cue for social distance martial arts training. It’s much easier to remember to stay at least six feet apart from your classmates when you’re all staying within the boundaries of your own mats.
A Uniform or Change of Clothes
One of the downsides to outdoor martial arts training is that it is very unlikely that you’ll have access to the same changing facilities that you’d have in a traditional gym setting. In addition to how you’ll clean up post-training (which we’ll talk about in more detail later in this post), this will also change what you can wear during training. Unless you’re travelling by car — and you can park somewhere relatively private and you feel comfortable fully changing in your car — you will likely be training in at least some of the same clothes you will wear to and from the location. So plan your outfit accordingly.
If you’re training in a martial arts uniform, it will probably be most convenient for you to go to and from class in a rash guard or workout top and shorts that fit comfortably under your gi, dubok, or Thai shorts. That way you can wear your uniform overtop for class, pack it away again when you’re done, and properly change and clean your gear when you get home. If you’re training in workout wear, you have the option of staying in that, or packing loose-fitting clothes like a shirt and warmup pants that you can quickly and discreetly throw on top afterwards.
Portable Training Gear
Another challenge that comes with martial arts training in outdoor spaces is that you won’t have access to all of the same training gear that you’d have in a gym, like heavy bags, professional grade throwing dummies, or communal focus pads. So unless you’re strictly working on bodyweight training in your outdoor martial arts classes, you will probably need to pack your own. To make your setup and transport as easy as possible, keep it simple. Pick one or two smaller pieces of equipment, like focus pads, or a smaller, homemade training dummy. Bring your biggest ideas about how to use that gear along, too. Our tools might be limited right now, but our minds aren’t.
Sanitizer, Wipes, and PPE
In a traditional martial arts gym in more normal times, we can and should shower after class. And clean our gear as soon as we get home. With outdoor martial arts training, the shower has to wait until we get home. But there are steps that we can take to practice the best hygiene we can until a full wash is possible. Including a package of sterilizing wipes and/or a bottle of hand sanitizer and using them regularly throughout your outdoor training will help to protect your health and your training partners’ health. Packing a set of baby wipes or moist towelettes can also help you freshen up after class.
It’s also a good idea to include a few spare disposable masks in your training gear, just in case something happens to the one(s) you’re wearing to and from — and possibly during — training. Or to help out any classmate who might need an extra.
A Gear Bag
Finally, you’ll need something that can carry all of the above. Or almost all of the above. A ProForce gear bag will safely store — and ventilate! — everything you’ll need for your outdoor martial arts training. You’ll just have to carry those jigsaw mats separately.