List of Martial Arts Exercises

A skilled martial artist typically spends years performing a variety of exercises to perfect his techniques. These exercises generally focus on improving a martial artist’s speed, strength, and flexibility.


Slow-Motion Kicks

Slow-motion kicking forces the leg muscles and core muscles to work harder throughout the execution of each kick. This exercise can be performed with most of the basic kicks in the martial arts. For example, the traditional front kick can be executed as a slow-motion exercise. To practice this exercise, one knee is lifted and the leg slowly extended forward. After the leg has been extended, slowly return it to a bent position. At least eight repetitions and three sets of this exercise should be performed with each leg. To improve balance, each consecutive kick should be practiced without touching the kicking foot to the floor.

Squat Kicks

Squat kicking is a challenging exercise that builds strength and coordination in the lower body. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat down as if sitting on a chair. When returning to a standing position, perform a front kick. Each time a squat is performed, a different leg should do the front kick. Ten repetitions and three sets of this exercise should be performed during a martial arts workout. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, the height of the kicks can be raised. Higher kicks can help improve flexibility.

Speed Punches

Speed punching is an effective way to improve quickness and cardiovascular endurance. Stand in a horse stance, feet spread apart at a little more than shoulder-width, and the knees slightly bent. The fists should be held at the hips. Speed punches are performed by rapidly executing karate punches at an imaginary target. When one hand returns to the hip, the other hand immediately punches. At least three one-minute sets of this exercise should be performed to get a cardio workout. Staying in a horse stance during this exercise should also create a good burn in the leg muscles.

Tension Kata

Kata is a Japanese word that refers to a choreographed pattern of martial arts techniques. While performing a tension kata, pretend that your punches and blocks are being met with resistance. The muscles should be tightened as each technique of the kata is slowly performed. Martial arts techniques and muscular strength are improved by practicing tension katas. Resistance bands can also be used to increase tension.

Hand Speed Exercises for Martial Arts

Developing fast hands is an essential part of most martial arts. Martial artists need to be able to quickly block oncoming attacks and counter with their own defensive strikes. Fast hand techniques can help martial artists win at tournaments. More importantly, fast hands can also save their lives on the streets. There are several hand-speed exercises that a martial artist can practice. These exercises can make a martial artist a more skilled and well-rounded fighter.

Plyometric Push-Ups

Plyometric push-ups are good for building explosive speed and power in hand techniques for the martial arts. To practice this exercise, you begin in the down position of a push-up. Powerfully push up with your hands and try to thrust your body into the air. Your hands should leave the floor, then return to the floor for the next repetition. To make your hands work faster during this exercise, try clapping them together while you are in the air.

Speed Bag Training

Speed bags are often associated with boxers, but they can also work wonders for martial artists. A speed bag is a small, air-filled punching bag that is connected to the ceiling. These bags bounce around quickly when they are hit. It takes a boxer or martial artist with some fast hands to keep up with the bag. You should start off slow when beginning to exercise with the speed bag. Once you are able to develop a rhythm with your punches, then you can hit the bag faster and harder. The speed bag is also good for exercising combinations of hand techniques.


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