Training Off The Mats


Every martial artist knows training does not stop when you step outside the dojo. You will never achieve the skill level you want unless you put in hours off the mats.

However, what happens when you have the heart of a warrior but are unable to train at the dojo? How do you keep advancing? That is an excellent question.

I find myself in this situation. Distance is the main culprit, 4 hours driving one way. Our previous norm of training at the dojo four times a week is impossible. And with winter in full swing, driving over mountain passes is tricky. Trips to the dojo are down to once a month.

So, how do I train? I got lucky. I have a training partner. Even though my husband trains with me, keeping it consistent is not easy. It takes determination.

Training in martial arts is not just about the techniques it is about physical and mental conditioning.

Think of it like this. Would you want to battle with a rusted sword? How about a gunfight with a gun so dirty it jams? In martial arts, your body is the weapon. What condition do you want your body to be in when attacked?

Martial arts must be part of who you are not another hobby. It is a way of life. Otherwise, it will be virtually impossible to keep advancing.

Work Out

If you are not already working out, start.

Sensei once stated: You should be the fittest person in your family.

Take a real look at yourself. How fit are you? If you are not physically in shape, what is the solution?

Remember physical fitness is a journey filled with baby steps. It will be hard. However, perseverance is the key.

Keep going. Ultimately it will be worth any discomfort.

Whether or not you are in top physical condition always push yourself.



Push Your Endurance

Walk that extra flight of stairs, while you are at it race yourself.

Run that extra mile. Sprint.

Walk in the park with a backpack filled with books. Or walk on your treadmill loaded down.

Lift weights until your muscles are jello

Do squats until your legs give out.

Have no time to work out? Multi-task. Work your lower body while watching your favorite TV show. Do incline push-ups in the kitchen while your microwave dinner is heating up. Are you still eating those?

Push your body to its max. Soon, your max will be harder to reach.




Do you have a good imagination? If you not, get one.

Visualize scenarios using techniques.

When you are waiting for the bus/subway/train, visualize the people around you attacking. What would you do? How would you move? What strategies would you use?


Shadow Box

Shadowbox in your front room. Repeat until it becomes muscle memory. Then shadowbox some more.

Practice angling your body. How can you move your body to gain the most distance?

If you have a shower, shadow box. How do techniques work in a confined space? Warning: Shower boxing can be dangerous. Make sure not to slip. Nothing like a broken hip to keep you from training.


Find A Partner

Do you know anyone willing to help you practice? Ask around. You might inspire someone.



Practice awareness of your surroundings. How many people are around you. What are they doing?

Example: I was on the subway during my afternoon commute. Sixteen people were in the car. Out of those sixteen people, twelve of them were eyes downward on their phones. One person was studying advanced math notes. Another person was listening to music. The last two were aware and looked around. I was one of those two.

Practicing awareness is important. If you can see an attack coming how much better will you respond? Could you prevent it from happening in the first place?


Training in martial arts is not limited to physical movement; it is equally about training your mind.

Your martial arts journey is in your hands. You decide how much you train on and off the mats. Will you let small obstacles, like distance, get in the way of obtaining your goals?


Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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