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How to Structure a Martial Arts Training Session

by Andrew Bryan

martial arts training

One of the hardest things about training by yourself is a lack of direction. When you have a coach or even a friend to train with, there is someone who puts you through your paces and gets you to train the parts of your martial art that you don’t necessarily like doing.

It’s easy to fall into the habits of just training the things you’re already good at, or like doing, and neglecting things you don’t immediately have an interest in. Unfortunately martial arts is kind of like school, and in order to do well on that history test, you need to know all about the parts that bore you to tears.

That’s why today I’m providing a very easy structure that anyone can do, that will give them a full workout and plenty of time to work skills. This is intended to be practised for just an hour, and can be used alongside other training plans that I have published on Black Belt in the past.

Phase One: Cardio

Cardio can suck, and I know plenty of martial artists who will do anything to avoid it. Myself included. It’s a lot easier to skip cardio when it comes at the end of a long session and you’re already tired. That’s why it’s best to start with it and get it out of the way.

We start the session with a short 15 minutes of high intensity cardio, this could be running, skipping rope, or whatever you most prefer, for me it’s battle ropes. Set a time for 15 minutes and aim to get to the end of that 15 minutes taking as few a breaks as possible. Once this is complete we can go on to phase two.

Phase Two: The Part You Suck At

We’re going to prioritize that part of your skillset that you need to work on. It might be a particular kick, throw, combination, or kata, anything that you know you lag behind in. For the next 15 minutes we are going to focus very hard on improving that skill, and we’re going to do it by using the lego method.

Break that skill down into small pieces, for example, if it is a throw or a strike, spend five minutes practice the beginning of that throw or strike, whether it’s foot work, or just the wind up to a kick. Do this with maximum focus. If it’s a kata, practice that beginning of the kata thoroughly until you feel it getting more ingrained in your brain.

Then for the next five minutes practice the technique as a whole. Do it again and again, with maximum concentration. Then in the final five minutes of this phase, work it into different combinations, for example if you’re struggling with a round kick, practice shadowboxing and working in that round kick that causes you difficulty. If it’s a kata, experiment with different speeds and tempos.

Phase Three: The Parts You’re Good At

Do what you want. Go nuts. You’ve practiced your weak area for fifteen minutes of intense focus, now it’s time to train your favorite skills and get them sharper, but be sure to keep working that weak skill into your work every so often to gradually introduce that weakened skill into your skillset.

Phase Four: Fitness Burnout

For the final phase, we’re going to train resistance exercises until we’re suitably burned out. If you’re physically able to, cycle through sets of 10-20 push ups or burpees, followed by the same amount of squats, and sit ups, on a cycle – until the final fifteen minute timer runs out.

And you should have a complete workout that will benefit any martial artist. Let me know how it goes!

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