Who could forget Daniela LaRusso connecting with that crane kick right to Johnny’s melon in The Karate Kid? Or what about Bruce Lee battling it out in an ice factory in The Big Boss? If you’ve thought about honing your martial arts fists of fury, then perhaps it’s time to leave some of the Hollywood behind.
Checking out Jackie Chan or ninja flicks may be fun, but real martial arts is more about real-life self-defense and not a 10-minute fight sequence, and for those looking to get in shape, solo martial arts training offers a great way to get a workout.
Loren Christensen has trained and taught martial arts since 1965. He has black belts in arnis (a Philippine fighting system), jujitsu, and karate and has trained in numerous other disciplines. After serving in Vietnam, Christensen worked for nearly three decades in law enforcement. He’s authored four books in the Solo Training: The Martial Artist’s Home Training Guide series and other books on the topic.
Much of Christensen’s work focuses on Sanchin, the Japanese word for three conflicts: the body, mind, and spirit. Taking self-defense seriously helps control these aspects, he says.
“Learning to fight them, control them, and conquer them is part of what being a martial arts warrior is about,” he notes in Solo Training 2.
While one can certainly learn and train in a martial arts class, Christensen believes working out alone can also boost fighting skills more quickly in some regards.
“When you’re in class, you train with concerns about being a good training partner, obeying the instructor, following school rules, being forced to train under your ability, and having to work on material that you don’t want to work on,” Christensen says.
Finding an excellent workout is relatively easy in the Internet age. Books like Christensen’s on the subject are just a download or UPS delivery away. There are also numerous websites dedicated to the subject, whether you wish to up your kung fu game, gain some grappling skills, or kick like a muay Thai boxer. And as Christensen notes, solo martial arts training lets you practice some of several styles in your time frame.
It’s key to take it seriously, focus on technique, and look for gradual improvement. Think the Mr. Miyagi approach and maybe not a Rocky montage.
Beyond the three conflicts, solo martial arts offers a chance to burn some calories. Those who prefer some physical activities or sports rather than jogging or hitting the treadmill may find some punches and kicks a bit more fun.
Think of it as aerobics for dudes (or dudettes). Channel that inner Chuck Norris as you kick and punch your way to better fitness. The University of Rochester Medical Center notes that a one-hour martial arts session can burn as many as 700 calories. Beyond that, karate or other technique adds other excellent benefits, including:
lower blood pressure
An hour or so of defensive and offensive drills offer a full-body workout. Start with some more manageable drills, and then work your way up. Stretching before each session is critical as new solo students use muscles that might not otherwise receive attention using that TV remote or picking up the kids from school.
Feel a bit intimidated or don’t know where exactly to start? There are now even YouTube channels that offer a more focused approach. It’s like dial-a-dojo from the living room. These online senseis offer potential fighters a complete session right in the comfort of your own home.
Ando Mierzwa hosts the Happy Life Martial Arts and puts viewers through the paces in every possible scenario. His channel has more than 360,000 subscribers.
“This is where I share the ideas, drills, and techniques that not only made me a better martial artist, they made me a better human being,” Mierzwa says. “I’m not claiming to be a tough guy and not claiming to be a world champion of anything … but I have been lucky enough over the years to train under some very wise teachers. And now, if I can, I’d like to help you.”
That’s a nice offer, and this workout doesn’t require a gym membership.
As any Skillset reader probably believes, being able to defend yourself is important. Along with getting a nice workout, solo martial arts training leads to some real-life skills that just might come in handy at some point.
Unlike Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, most people won’t need to take on 20 bad guys in a factory or look to avenge a fellow martial artist who was handed a raw deal. In his books, Christensen offers numerous scenarios and workouts for different scenarios that might actually occur in real life.
That ranges from practicing offensive and defensive techniques from different angles and even in seated positions. Fighters learn blocks, kicks, punches, movements, and stances not necessarily to kick some butt but to safely diffuse a situation and exit a potentially violent scenario.
Mierzwa also walks his virtual students through similar situations and gives critical tips like staying on your feet during a fight. The possibilities are endless, and getting in the solo fight game offers a great way to work up a sweat – with or without a Cobra Kai T-shirt.