There are a myriad of possible effective martial-arts workouts. If you are an early-morning riser, try the following martial-arts training routine. This one is for early-birds only.
Martial Artists Calm Mind
There is something special about being the only person up near dawn or sunrise. There is something special about training in solitude … or training side by side, quietly with a close friend, mate, or student.
If you can train outside, in the fresh air, that has some added benefits, but it’s not necessary. Wherever you work out, try to listen to the early morning sounds … of the city or countryside. Strain your ears; listen for rhythms that you can do your exercises to. Or focus on unique sounds and try to identify them as you perform techniques.
Note: It’s almost a mental puzzle to figure out how to consciously identify sounds, while your body unconsciously performs precision techniques. It almost forces a state of no-mind, teaching the body to react while not being allowed to focus on the technique itself.
Also, use early-morning sites while training. Concentrate on the beauty of the sunrise, while performing a form or kata. Examine the clouds in the distance, as you punch repetitively. Using sight and sound in early morning practice is different from you focused practice, where you analyze, adjust and improve. In the wee hours, you are teaching yourself to perform with a calm mind. You are taking advantage of privacy to empty your mind and train.
The Actual Martial-Arts Training Routine
Start slowly in the morning. Allow your body to wake up. Some slow stretches, as you appreciate the sun creeping up on the horizon. Do you know Salutation to The Sun? How about a different stretch routine?
Next, progress to a slow kata or form. Tai Chi and Chi Gung are perfect for this early-morn, slow workout. Or how about performing each move in Sil Lum Tao, from Wing Chun. Do this first form, or any kata that you select, slowly. Emphasize your smooth technique.
After your form/kata, stretch your legs some more. In fact, warm them up with some leg raises, kicks, or jumping jacks. Now, it’s time for some kicks. Again, start slowly, but this time, progress to kicks with more speed and force. You want to start sweating a little.
If it’s not a “kicking day,” then substitute some punches, eye jabs, or elbow strikes. The point is to start slowly, and then speed up. You want to break into a little bit of a sweat. I like my morning routines to be shorter than a regular martial arts class. Just enough to get me enthusiastic about the arts for the day is what I am looking for.
So, for my last exercise, I practice something that is practical — useful in a real self-defense situation. I want to end my martial-arts workout with a technique or series of moves that, in a sense, prepares me for the rest of the day.
This early morning is a special time to be able to practice in peace. As I said at the beginning, there are lots of possible routines. This is one where you can practice while appreciating the beauty of the sights and sounds of the early morning. What a great way for solo training! And if you are practicing with a partner, I suggest that you practice side by side, in silence. Or maybe roll in chi sao (sticking hands) without hitting — again, quietly.
Keith Pascal is the editor and author of several martial-arts ezines, including: