Studying any form of martial arts from home is a great way to stay healthy and take care of yourself both emotionally and physically, especially during these uncertain times of staying at home and limiting our social interactions. Practicing a discipline of martial arts can help you de-stress, release tension, and stay physically active on a regular basis. And there’s nothing more convenient than being able to exercise from the comfort of your home without the need to commute to a school or studio and deal with traffic. Just throw on some comfortable clothing, clear some space, and you’re good to go, right?
Actually, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when taking martial arts online that will help you make the most of your lessons. Use this study guide when learning martial arts, or really practicing any form of exercise at home. These tips will ensure a more enjoyable learning experience and help you better understand the teachings.
The Floor Comes First
If you’re going to be studying any kind of martial art at home, you want to think about replicating the same basic features and environment that you’d find in a martial arts studio. The first and most important of these is the floor because that’s where all of our movements begin and it can have a big impact on our practice.
First, make sure that whatever part of your home you choose to follow your online martial arts class has a clean and comfortable floor. If you have a hardwood or concrete floor without a carpet or rug, you may want to wear sneakers or fitted slippers to give your feet and joints some cushioning.
Even better, invest in a rug, mat, or a set of interlocking foam pads, which are similar to the ones found in kids’ playrooms, but designed specifically for martial arts. Many Boabom students use them. They decrease stress on your joints, are easy to lay down and put away, and will give definition to your practice area. Also, make sure you have a non-slip pad underneath to keep the rug or foam pads from slipping.
How Much Space Will I Need?
You also want to make sure your workout area is big enough so that you can fully extend your arms and legs, particularly if you’re going to be kicking or turning. At martial arts studios, and especially at the Boston School of Boabom, we make sure that the space is right for our practice, and you should do your best to replicate that at home. While you don’t need a large area for martial arts, you do need to take care that you don’t have any furniture or other objects nearby that could get in the way of your punches or kicks, and be especially careful if you use a staff.
This isn’t just about the danger of injuring yourself or breaking something—though that is something to absolutely avoid!—but it’s also about being able to practice without worrying about accidentally whacking your shin into your coffee table. So take some time to think about the space you will need to practice your martial art so you can fully execute all of your movements without making contact with a lamp, chair, or television!
Also, take a moment before each class to make sure that your space is clean and tidy. The last thing you want in the middle of a class is to step on a lego that your kids left on the floor or knock over a glass of water.
Create a Distraction-Free Zone
No matter which discipline of martial arts you’re studying, you need to be in the moment to focus your mind through the movements and your practice. Just as the space should be physically clean, make sure it is psychologically clean as well. That is to say: free yourself of distractions. Shut your phone off, or at least put it away where you won’t be tempted to check it during your class. If you’re using your phone to stream the class, be sure to silence your notifications. And if you wear an Apple watch or another kind of smartwatch, switch it to airplane mode so you won’t be tempted by its sweet siren song.
When practicing martial arts, it’s important to remain focused. Not only will too many distractions take you out of the meditative state of mind that is so important to a practice like Boabom, but distraction can also leave you more susceptible to injury. A momentary distraction can break your concentration, causing you to land wrong, fail to attend to proper position and alignment, or a number of other issues. While almost all of the time there won’t be an issue, it’s important to take care, especially if you’re executing a fast movement.
Pets, kids, family members, or roommates can also throw off your concentration, so try to stream your online class in an area of your home where you know you’ll have privacy for the duration of the lesson. Shut the door if you have to and make other household members aware that this is your time to focus on you and your self-development. Of course if you need to use a shared space, you can use wireless headphones to help filter out distractions, but always take care to be aware of those around you.
Warm Up Your Muscles
When practicing any form of exercise, it’s important that your muscles are warmed up so you can do your best and avoid injuries. If you’re studying martial arts online, something as simple as walking around your home for a few minutes before the lesson begins can get your blood flowing and warm up your legs, feet, and hips. Doing a little extra movement or stretching before and after a lesson can also help prepare your body for physical activity and cool it down after. In Boabom, we always make sure to start every class with a good warm-up so our bodies are ready for the more precise and strenuous movements that make up the second part of the class.
Practice at The Right Time
If you’re streaming a live class, you obviously can’t choose the time of day for your martial arts lesson. But if you’re practicing between classes, you’ll want to do them at a time when you feel your best. For most people, that means waiting an hour or two after eating a meal, as you’ll feel sluggish or could get a stomach cramp. For any other time of day, you’ll want to practice when you’re feeling your best.
If you’re a night owl, then trying to exercise first thing in the morning will probably prove rather difficult for you to get through. Even if you’re a morning person, make sure you move a little bit before starting with strong exercise. Work with your body’s natural rhythms so you’ll feel refreshed after practicing your martial art.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
You don’t have to get fancy with your workout wardrobe when studying a martial art from home, but you should wear comfortable clothing that gives you plenty of freedom of movement. Avoid jeans, chinos, and anything else made of denim or non-stretchy fabric that can make it difficult to execute the moves. Some people prefer natural fabrics and loose clothes, others prefer synthetic and stretchy. Follow your own preference, but whatever you choose, make sure you can move freely, without feeling bound up in your clothes!
There are of course some schools that require you to purchase and wear a specific uniform, but at the Boston School of Boabom we encourage you to wear what is most comfortable for you, and we never require you to purchase any clothes or other additional items.
Some martial arts will suggest you go barefoot, but if yours requires you to wear footwear, make sure it’s comfortable and supportive so you can safely complete the moves. Lighter shoes tend to be better also, as they allow you to move more quickly.
If you need orthotics, see how they work during your practice, or try an orthotic specifically designed for sports. And if you have a historical or chronic joint injury, you can try wearing a simple brace that allows for range of motion while providing a little extra support for your joint, especially as you’re getting to know a new martial art practice.
These little details can make a big difference. Putting the effort and thought into preparing yourself and your home for your martial arts lessons will give you a much better experience, help you avoid injury, and make you feel more empowered and confident as you progress through your classes.
==> Does Boabom sound like a good fit for you? Learn about our martial arts classes for adults.