I'm a martial artist on lockdown, so now what?
Who didn't have big plans for 2020? Didn't we all enter January thinking, "This is the year I get serious about (insert your martial art discipline here.)!" 2020 was going to be THE year! And then, the sad trombone of the pandemic played its mocking tune, and that was that.
Sadly, most of us wound up couch-bound scrolling through Netflix, Prime, Hulu and any other streaming service we could secure, for that extra $4.00, that the rep assured us, over the phone, was a special just for us, and only for today!
So now what? Well, no matter what art you study, every art has solo drills.
My first teacher always stressed the 80/20 rule: 80% of your practice by yourself and 20% with a partner.
You probably learned some drills, and let them fall by the wayside, because most of us do just that. We knew they were the path to mastering technique and skill, but they aren't always as fun as working with a partner. Now is a great time for a refresher.
The first step for every student is to assess your skill honestly: What are your weaknesses? What was the last thing your teacher stressed that needed improvement?
Here are some suggestions for you to start your own solo regimen:
1. Short Reps in Quick Succession
Doing short reps in quick succession is a great way to build speed and endurance. For example, fire 3 sets of 5 snap kicks as fast as you can on each leg. Take 5 seconds/breaths between sets and then do it again. Do something similar for whatever art you study.
2. Take it Slow
For building technique do the opposite, work slow. Pick a technique or form and do it as slow as you possibly can. (hint: Tai Chi)
3. Incorporate Mental Aspects
Are there mental aspects to your art that you've ignored that you can incorporate? I was floored years ago when I learned that many Olympic athletes have a visualization coach. Have you tried to visualize yourself doing something really well? Dare I say, perfectly? Give it a try. Use a form or technique that you know well. You will be surprised by how much concentration is required.
Communicate with others doing the same thing you are doing. This is the 21st century and since many of us work from home, use that same technology to organize a group of likeminded individuals and evaluate each other's technique, share your experiences, and pick up some tips.
The hardest part of anything is to start, so begin with something easy and only do it for a short amount of time. 2 minutes, for instance. Too short you say? It will be longer and more productive than doing nothing. Add more (reps, time, or exercises) as you go. As a rule, a little every day is better than a lot only done occasionally. Someday this will situation be over, so let's use our time wisely and come out of it better than before.