How to Practice At Home

As a martial arts student, you are probably already going to class once or twice a week.  Your classes are the best place to learn new material, get corrections, and meet people who share your interest.  You may also have heard your teacher say to practice at home. But, how do you practice at home?  How much should you be practicing?  Here are some tips to help you develop a home practice.

How Much is Enough?

There is no one correct amount of practice that works for all people.  A lot depends on your goal.

When I was growing up on Wudang Mountain, we trained for seven hours a day, seven days a week, with one day off every two weeks.  If you want to be a martial arts teacher, or professional fighter, you should be training at least 5 days a week for 2-4 hours each session.  If martial arts are your hobby, I recommend practicing at home 2-3 times a week for at least an hour at a time.  When you practice, you should set aside blocks of time where you will not be interrupted.  You may have to wake up earlier or go to sleep later in order to do that.  It will be easier to develop a regular habit if you practice at the same time each day, so take a look at your schedule and see what works for you.  You will need to find a practice space is dry, not too hot to cold, free of distraction, and with enough room to accommodate your movements.

Once you are ready to begin, here is a guide to help you plan a one-hour practice session:

Practice Smart

Good practice is efficient, so don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.  It is important to practice smart, with your mind and body equally engaged.  If it helps, try keeping a journal where you write down thoughts about your practice. Another good trick is to videotape yourself every few weeks.  This can be a humbling experience, but is a great way to catch errors you didn’t know you were making.

Finding Balance

It is important to find balance between your practice with your personal life including your family, friends and job.  On some days, these things may prevent you from practicing.  When this happens, you need to use your best judgment.  There are times when you will need to honor your personal responsibilities and reschedule your practice session for another time.  Finding balance also means avoiding over-practice.  If you are practicing too much you are making yourself vulnerable to injury and burn out.  Remember to leave enough recovery time.  Your body needs time to rejuvenate itself and recover.

How to Practice When Injured or Sick

When you can not practice due to injury or illness, you can still set aside part of your day for martial arts.  Try reading a book about martial arts.  Watch videos of your style on YouTube or documentaries about your style or the place it comes from.  If you do not have the energy for practice, you can also try meditating or practicing some simple qigong instead.

Live Your Art

The truth is, that martial arts practice never ends.  The more you practice, the more your art will become a part of who you are.  In fact, you are constantly practicing.  How you move throughout your day, how you walk, how you sit at your desk, all can reflect the principles of your martial art.  This level of integration can even carry over to your interactions with other people.  Are you reflecting the respect and balance that your martial arts have taught you?

Remember:

Your goal should be to train for the rest of your life.The martial arts are very deep with a vast wealth of knowledge. A student could practice a single style for their whole life and still not learn it all. A lifelong study of martial arts is a wonderful goal, since each martial art is an endless road to be traveled as far as one can.