How to Learn the Martial Arts at Home – 10 Tips to Get and Stay in Shape With a Ninja Life-Style

I truly believe in self-powered martial arts training and what you do at home can drastically effect your future outcome. I attribute my success in the martial arts to this attitude of eat-drink-sleep the martial arts. Yes, you can still have a life – but if you want to get the most out of any program and are just getting started – I highly suggest a solid at home integration of your passion and goals. Below are a few tips for improving your quest to learn martial arts at home. Please feel free to add more of your own ideas in the comments.

01 Get Started in Martial Arts Training

A course of a thousand martial art moves begins with the first kick. Begin by beginning is the first tip towards achieving success in the realm of martial arts home study. There is a procrastination bug that is easy to catch if you are not careful. If you must procrastinate then have this character trait work for you as opposed to against you by procrastinating procrastination.

A body in motion stays in motion – so the best thing for you to do, is take the first step and begin to create some momentum. Even if that first step is rather small, move forward. It might not seem like much now, but in the long run, it will all add up to the masterpiece that is you.

02 Get a Ninja Memory

It is easy to get caught up in the circle of life and lose sight of our dreams. Whether work, relationships or personal setbacks are the cause – you need constant reminders to keep you on track. I suggest that you find ways to use elements in your environment to remind you of your goals and dreams. I also suggest that you keep these reminders secret and share them only with people that have the same beliefs (usually your instructor, students or peers that share the same course). If you are prone to forgetting to practice, study, test or even think about your training – then consider adding a few memory boosters into your daily life as a way to interrupt your thinking and remind you of your goals.

Be creative! For some, placing a reminder on the refrigerator will work. However, this is not always best, because you might soon learn to ignore it. Consider more unique strategies like placing post-it notes in locations that force you to remove them. For example, if you stick a post-it note on your TV, it will be hard to miss when you sit down to watch your re-runs of Seinfeld. Moreover, when you take it off, be sure to place it on something else that you will use or see later – like your computer.

Obviously, I am only giving you an extreme idea that you can mold into various other ways to remind you to stay in action. I use a less obvious reminder wrist band that has “Life’s a BLAST” Written on it to remind me of my philosophy of Daily Living. BLAST is an acronym that reminds me to: Breathe Laugh, Adventure, Stretch and Think.

Share some of your own tips for reminders in the comments.

03 Get a Martial Arts Training Schedule

In the above photo, I am taking a sleep stretch at a friends apartment in Delft – Holland in between training programs. I was often so busy between seminars that I would take naps or go to sleep stretching. I would then accomplish two tasks at the same time. I allow gravity to pull my legs down into a static stretch. Note, I don’t teach this strategy as much as dynamic stretching – but it worked for me during a period where in Europe where doing the splits began to feel like shaking someone’s hand. At CMS, we call it the wall splits and offer students the opportunity to practice this exercise during Audio Stretch (where you listen to a motivational tape program while doing the wall stretch).

Creating a martial arts related schedule of some sort is probably one of the best strategies for staying on track. You need to set aside TIME to focus on your training. Even if you only have a few hours a week to devote to learning martial arts at home, be sure to organize that time and discipline yourself to sticking to it.

If you do not have time, what you need to do is MAKE time. Even if you only have a few hours – set them aside and use a good reminder to be sure that you are on track.

Consider taking some advice from a crunchy fast food restaurant – Taco Bell. They used to have a discount period called, Taco Tuesday – an easy reminder. I used to use something similar in my training – like Wednesday Weapons.

If you have time to watch TV, then you have time to train. One of my favorite training strategies involves working out during commercials or stretching during a film. I often put an exercise ball in front of the TV to get in a full abdominal workout, resting only during the commercials.

04 Add a killer physical workout

I change my schedule quite often (this keeps it fun), but when I kick it into gear (usually when I want to lose the weight from having too many Sundae Sundays), I usually follow something similar to the following:

Monday – Upper body focused training and development:

This would include punching, bag drills, strikes, climbing, and upper body muscle development.

When working the muscles, I follow the 5-second strategy for burn out and fatigue = 1 second positive and 4 seconds negative. This means if I am doing a pull up, I will power blast it for a max of 1 second on the way up and go slow for 4 seconds on the way down. Same strategy if you use weights. 10 reps for each upper body exercise with only 1 minute of rest in between is good. Try to fill up 40-60 minutes.

You can use this strategy for push-ups too – 1 second push and 4 seconds as you go back to starting position. It is okay to blast through the first second to get that explosive movement, but you must take time for the return.

Tuesday – Cardio kickboxing, fat burning routine:

* Light Warm up for 10 minutes (any exercise other than what you will do in the hour).

* Heavy workout for 15 seconds (bag blast, sprint, jump ropes, monkey jumps etc.).

* Light movements for 45 seconds (jog, shadow box, dynamic stretching etc.).

Repeat the above 5 times then rest for 1-5 minutes.

* Solid Movement for 30 minutes (run, jump rope, bag drills, swim, row etc) at 70%.

* Heavy workout for 20 seconds (bag blast, sprint, jump ropes, monkey jumps etc.).

* Light movements for 40 seconds (jog, shadow box, dynamic stretching etc.).

If you want a non martial arts workout to add to your week that only requires a pair of running shoes – try this:

Warm up for 10 minutes and then:

Part one = sprint uphill for 15 seconds, run relaxed for 45 seconds (repeat 6 times), run for 30 minutes.

Part two = sprint for 20 seconds, run for 40 seconds (repeat 5 times).

Get a 5 minute cool down and stretch.

Refuel your body with water, whey protein, greens organic food supplement or body building formula of choice immediately after.

Wednesday – Lower body focused training and development:

This would include kicking, bag drills, abs, stretching, and lower body muscle development.

The same 5-second strategy is applied. For example, throw a fast kick to the bag then a 4-second kick. Slow motion kicking will truly help you to develop powerful kicks. Pick at least 4 areas of focus and then get in a minimum of 10 reps. 5-second squats are also great.

Thursday – Repeat a workout similar to Tuesday

Friday – Repeat Mondays Workout.

NOTE: This strategy is designed to give you about 4 days of rest between upper body and lower body workouts. It is a good idea to rotate each week so that you start Monday out with lower body instead of upper body. Get creative and mix it up and experiment with various training schedules. Find one that works BEST for YOU.

This schedule is more physical, you should have something similar for your mind and spirit.

PLAY on the weekends!

05 Get Motivated for the Martial Arts

You need some fuel that will keep you excited and in training for the duration of your focus. This means you need to learn what it is that motivates you. Eventually, you might run out of fuel – so what is it that will fill that tank back up and get you going again? Consider reading Winjitsu books MAK and NRG which are focused purely on training your mind to get you moving and staying in motion. Until then, here are a few quick tips:

* Put up some photos or images that inspire you where you can see them often – images of what you would like to accomplish.

* Ask yourself motivating pain and pleasure questions like: What will happen if I do not train or achieve this goal? How does that make me feel? What will happen if I do achieve this goal? How does that make me feel?

* Also, be sure to ask yourself positive moving forward questions like: How can I improve my martial arts training at home? Give it some time; your brain will come up with answers. Avoid self-limiting questions like: Why am I always forgetting to train? Your brain will answer negative questions too, but they will only hinder your progress.

* Create a plan or date to show off your skills – something that forces you to get into action now in order to be ready in the future. We always study hardest before the exam.

* Add Jackie Chan movies, Rocky music, Martial Art books and people in the martial arts that inspire you into action to your daily life and environment.

06 Get Martial Arts Friends

One of the best ways to get active and stay on a training program is to find a person that shares the same goal. Create a schedule together and help each other stay on track. It may not be a good idea to try to convince someone to adjust to your own goals – best to find someone that wants to train just as much as you.

07 Get a Goal in the Martial Arts

Write your goals down and keep them in view. This is important. How can you achieve success if you are not even sure what you are a aiming for? Be sure to pick some measurable goals so you can be motivated by your progress. If you want to achieve the martial arts side splits, but do not recognize that you are getting closer every week, you will lose sight of your progress and end up forgetting about the goal altogether, or worse, lose motivation, as the goal will appear impossible to reach. Consider breaking all of your goals down at least 4 times.

Therefore, you could have 10-year goals, 1-year goals, 1-month goals, and 1-week goals. Alternatively; 1-year goals, 1-month goals, 1-week goals and daily goals. In addition, it helps to break down your specific goals too, for example:

Achieve 25% of the side splits in 1 month, 50% in 2 months, 75% in 3 months and 100% in 4 months.

08 Get a Martial Arts Mind

A great way to combine all of the above into a Mental workout is to devote 2 or more hours per week on the online dojo. Get online and ask questions, share training advice, offer help or just get your mind in the game. It is all about keeping in the loop and keeping the focus. Out of sight = out of mind. So let us get the mind involved and strengthen that muscle with some mental push-ups. Reading this post is a great start, add some of your own thoughts in the comments and help others get more out of their training.

09 Get a Martial Arts Coach

Obviously, if you have an instructor helping you along the way, your steps will turn to leaps. Consider any great sports team – they most likely had a great coach. Was John Wooden on the court when the players won a championship? For the players – the answer might be yes – John was in our minds. However, truth is, the coach does not need to be on the playing field (or in your home) for you to truly benefit from the focused interaction.

If you are on the HSP – Martial Arts Home Study Program that we offer, you have a direct line to Instructors on our Online Dojo and can have them help keep you on track, offer advice or just share. I myself focus private time to my students and HSP members. I answer questions on the forums too, but only HSP students get direct communication.

Find a coach or instructor to help get and keep you on track. This can usually be as simple as communicating on a regular basis. I would also suggest finding some books that offer instruction in a coaching like manner.

10 Get a Martial Arts Training Area

For many, it would seem like this is the first area of focus you should work on – a training location. However, I believe this might be one of the reasons that many of us limit our training potential. It is easy to decide to begin training when you have cleaned out your garage. However, once you are training and have that ball in motion – it will certainly help you to get a set area to train in. A home dojo if you will. I prefer the backyard, but a garage dojo is great too as you can open the door and let the air in. Having a set location or CONTEXT will not only constantly remind you to train, it will also help you to prepare quickly and get into the right state of mind each time you begin training.

If you cannot train anywhere at home, then seek out a public park or gym. Consider browsing the paper or web sites like for someone looking for a training partner or place an ad yourself. You might not have space, but if you do your research, I am sure you can find someone that shares your passion and together you can find a good location to train.

If you implement these 10 strategies you will soon make learning Martial Arts at home a way of life and soon develop many other strategies of your own.

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