Sunday, April 26, 2020

Starting Back Up Your Martial Arts Program Today

I've been thinking a lot about those gym owners and instructors who are wanting to re-open for many reasons, whether it is
 a. they miss their students,
 b. they miss training,
 c. they need the money,
 d. they want to get their team in shape for tournaments
e. All of the above

Here are some ideas you can try, TODAY, that I think comply with health requirements.

Family Conditioning

If most families are like mine, they have been getting a lot less exercise the past couple of months. Everyone - mom, dad, kids - could do with a little conditioning.

Invite 2-3 families, no more than 6 people

With one instructor, that will give you a group of no more than 7. Everyone should wear running shoes, comfortable clothes and bring a towel, blanket or yoga mat from home as well as their own water bottle. Schedule 30 minute sessions the first week or two then gradually increase to 45 minutes. If you do multiple sessions in a day, this gives the first group 15-30 minutes to be out of there before the next group comes.


I know some of you live in places where you have a farm or a big backyard so that might do. In Santa Monica, the city parks are open but they tend to be crowded in the evenings and on weekends - by this, I mean there are family groups every 20 feet or so.

Work out as a family

If necessary, put the kids in front so they are not embarrassing the parents by watching them. If you have small children, you may want them next to the parent.  Make sure you have 6 feet between each family. Start with stretches, then simple exercises anyone can do - jogging in place, laying on their back doing bicycle kicks. The middle of your practice should be a little more difficult, something like circuits.

Here is an example of a circuit. See below how to modify it

  • Step-ups (bench or steps)  20 reps (10 each leg)
  • Clap push-ups x 15
  • Squat thrust (or burpees) x 15 reps
  • Plyo Jump ups to bench x 10 reps (jumps which push off of both feet simultaneously from a squatting position)
  • Bent knee sit ups x 25 reps

This is a plyo jump

You can see above that Julia and Ronda are just using a wall at the park. This was before we were quarantined, but also, if you have people from the same household you don't need to maintain the 6 feet distance.

You can also use a bench. If your park doesn't have any walls or benches or you are in your backyard, steps work perfectly fine, too. If you have some 2-inch think boards and nails around you can even make a box for jumping. Even I have done that and I have the handicraft skills of a squirrel.

Even though you might think a milk crate would work fine for young children, I would not recommend it because although it will hold their weight, if they end up jumping on the edge instead of in the middle - a fair possibility with little kids - it may tip over and they'll fall backward.

Once you have finished a circuit, everyone rests for two minutes and you do it again. Do three circuits and then do some stretches to cool down.

Modifying circuits

For more serious players, have them bring their own dumbbells and do the step ups and jumps holding 5-15 lb dumbbells in each hand. For people who are just getting into shape they can do regular push-up instead of the clap push-ups. Also, they can't do all three circuits or all of the reps, that's fine.

Modify workouts to suit each group

This is a workout I would do to start but you know your club / gym better than I do. Modify the exercises to suit your families.

Don't I know that martial arts are contact sports?

Yes, yes I do. I also know that people often lose, get injured or make mistakes because they are out of shape and got winded or tired. Do your students a favor by helping them get gradually back into shape.

Why do this as a family?

There are several reasons to include whole families. First of all, everyone needs to get out of the house. Secondly, the distance requirements are between households because the reasonable assumption is that if someone lives with you, they probably already infected you if they are ill. Third, most martial arts programs are social. People know each other's kids, spouses. It gives them a chance to socialize and see each other.

As a parent and coach, I feel very strongly that parents often devote their time to their children and don't take care of themselves enough. Working out as a family helps the parents as well as the children. Exercise is good for you. Since the parents are probably driving their children to wherever you are anyway, they may as well be part of it.

Stress as heavily as you possibly can, this is NOT a competition. This is like when college or pro teams get back together pre-season. You are starting to get back into shape so you can get back on the mat, back to your pre-quarantine gym sessions or whatever.

Sign people up for a month of "semi-personal training"

If it were me, I would sign up groups for a month or so. Ten sessions with your family. If they do 2 sessions a week for 5 weeks, they will notice a difference.

I have a lot more ideas including for athlete conditioning, but I really have to get back to work.

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