Yon Ch’uan has elements of many types of martial arts: Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Aikido, Jujutsu, T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Weapons. That’s one of the reasons it takes a student of Yon Ch’uan longer to reach Black Belt than many other martial arts.
Whether you are training in Yon Ch’uan or another martial arts system, the current ‘social distancing’ that has separated students from each other and their instructors has brought us new challenges in our training. We are learning to Train in the Dark.
We move now from solo training in Judo to solo training in Karate.
Whether you train solo or in a class, it’s important to prepare your body and mind.
Think of your body in three parts:
- Top of head to top of chest
- Top of chest to top of hips
- Top of hips to bottom of feet
Think of your body in four parts:
- Left side
- Right side
Think of your body in five parts:
- Head and neck
- Shoulders and arms
- Waist and hips
- Legs and feet
Preparing your body for solo training begins by preparing each part of your body for the part it will play. There are lots of ways to do that, but here are some suggestions. You may already have a preparation program from your instructor, so be sure to follow that. For students of Yon Ch’uan, you’ll find some great warmups on pages 9 & 10 of our Black Belt Study Guide.
Stretching is the process of warming up the body and all its parts. Stretching for Karate and martial arts should warm up all of the parts of the body that will be called upon during training. Think about what you do in Karate? What parts of your body do you use?
I recommend stretching and warming up the body in a progressive manner for 10-15 minutes. Think of it as a step-up process. You are taking your body from your normal coolness to the heat of training. The longer you plan to train the longer you should stretch and warm up. You can find a lot of great stretches online and in Karate and fitness/exercise books. If you also know stretching exercises from Judo, Kung Fu or other martial arts, use them as well.
Here are some ideas.
- Start with your feet. Sit on the floor or in a chair. Stretch your toes, feet and ankles forward, backward and in circles.
- Stretch your calves and knees. Bend your knees up and down. Circle your knees several times to the left, then several times to the right.
- Stretch your thighs and hips. Sit on the floor and stand for different stretches.
- Stretch your waist. Rotate left, rotate right, bend forward, bend back.
- Stretch your chest and back. Chest out, chest in, breathed deeply and slowly.
- When you get to your shoulders, stretch out.
- Stretch your shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands and fingers – up, down, in circles.
- Stretch your neck, head and face. Slowly look up, look down, look left, look right – repeat.
One thing you want to accomplish in warming up is to slowly increase your heart rate and respiration. Lifting your hands above your heart during warm up will help accomplish that as will lifting your knees to your hips and higher. You can accomplish that with both knee lifts and squats.
Once your body is warmed up you are ready to begin your training.
I recommend some kind of daily martial arts training. Definitely do your stretching. That’s good for all of us no matter our age or physical condition. If you were working toward testing for a new belt rank before classes were cancelled, keep working on what you need to know for testing. We will get back to training together and staying in shape now and on top of what you need to know for your next test will help immensely.
We are teaching classes online now and continuing to emphasize basic and belt rank training. If you are able to do that with your instructor, it will help you be ready to test when classes meet again in the near future.
One other note about training is to stay hydrated. I like to add essential amino acids to water a couple of hours before training, then sip the amino water throughout the workout. It helps with hydration and essential micro-nutrition during training.
Here are some of the basics for solo training –
After you finish stretching, run through your basic blocks standing and stepping.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and do all of your blocks left side and right side 10 times. Then move into a back stance and do all of your blocks left side and right side 10 times. Next, step forward and backward with all your blocks 10 times (e.g. 10 times stepping forward and 10 times stepping backward, then do the next block in the same way).
Run through your strikes standing and stepping.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and do all of your strikes left side and right side 10 times. Then move into a back stance and do all of your strikes left side and right side 10 times. Next, step forward and backward with all your strikes 10 times (e.g. 10 times stepping forward and 10 times stepping backward, then do the next strike in the same way).
Run through your kicks standing and stepping.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and do all of your kicks left side and right side 10 times. Then move into a back stance and do all of your kicks left side and right side 10 times. Next, step forward and backward with all your kicks 10 times (e.g. 10 times stepping forward and 10 times stepping backward, then do the next kick in the same way).
You can vary the drills by stepping to the corners instead of moving straight forward and backward. It’s your solo training, so have fun!
Depending on how many blocks, strikes and kicks you know, the drill could take you 20-30 minutes. That’s a great workout!
If you have time, start with your basic Katas and move up to intermediate and advanced forms. If you don’t have much time to train in Kata, then do as many as you can each time you train. If you can train multiple times during the week, you should be able to cover all of your forms each week.
If you have time, spend 10-15 minutes training with each weapon you know. Run through your weapon basic drills to stay sharp with those. Basics will always be your friend if you have to use Karate (empty-hand or weapons) for self defense. If you know weapons forms, run through those as you have time. Be sure to train in every weapon and weapons form at least once each week.
Be sure to spend some time cooling down after your workout. Cooling down is the process of going from the heat of training to the cool of finishing. Cooling down is a step-down process. You want your heart, lungs, muscles and joints to slowly go from high gear to low gear over a period of 10-15 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself as much time to cool down as you did to warm up.
If you have room in your house, yard or neighborhood, walk briskly for about 3-5 minutes. Then spend several minutes doing standing and floor stretching. Any kind of slow stretching is helpful. T’ai Chi has been my personal go-to cool-down exercise for more than 20 years. I also use Judo and Okinawan Karate stretching for cool down. If you have learned some Animal Style stretching, those are also helpful.
A good cool-down routine will help your heart and lungs, muscles and joints relax and be ready for what’s next in your day.
We don’t know how long ‘social distancing’ will continue, but the day is coming when you’ll able to train with your teacher or students again. We trust God in all things and want to be ready for both self and faith defense.
Copyright ® Grace Martial Arts 2020