It’s been said that you can learn anything online. Khan Academy, a leader in free online-learning resources and the global classroom concept, embraces that notion through its motto: “Whoever you are, wherever you are, you only have to know one thing: you can learn anything.”
In this article, I share excerpts from an interview with Adam Gerrald, the head Taekwondo instructor for the Global Martial Arts University, regarding WHAT you need at home to be successful. He also gives sound advice on HOW to train at home.
What are the minimum resources a GMAU Taekwondo student needs to learn and practice Taekwondo (absolute must haves to get started)?
According to GMAU Taekwondo head instructor, Adam Gerrald, at minimum you need a heavy bag, a small space for working out, and a smartphone for recording yourself. He recommends a heavy bag that weighs “at least 80 pounds” and is “long enough that you can practice both high and low kicks.”
As far as space goes, you can “literally workout anywhere, as long as you have an approximately 15 feet by 15 feet space to move around.” This could be an extra room in your house, an area in your backyard, or even a public park.
Luckily, you don’t need fancy equipment to record yourself for testing. “A smartphone, which most everyone has nowadays, is all you need.” You’ll have to find a stable surface to prop the phone up on or you can “purchase a (general purpose) tripod for as little as $10”.
Instructor Adam also suggests using the phone to video yourself during practice times so you can evaluate your own movements and timing. Be sure to review his White Belt Test Tips Video before you film yourself and send in testing videos!
“You don’t need that much for Taekwondo training.”– Instructor Adam Gerrald
What do you consider “extras” regarding training equipment (that is, other things that could enhance our training – perhaps items we could buy over time)?
Again, there are not many other pieces of equipment you need for Taekwondo training. But a few that could be helpful include a mirror, focus mitts, reaction ball, and of course basic sparring equipment.
Instructor Adam says, “Mirrors are good for watching yourself in real time,” to see your technique form; but of course, you can always “just record yourself.”
Another good idea for solo practice involves the use of a reaction ball. “You can simply hang a tennis ball from a string,” like people use in their garage for parking and use that to practice strikes, kicks, and evasive movements.
Regarding partner practice, Adam says that “focus mitts are good” for working on hitting live/moving targets.
Lastly, basic sparring equipment is a good idea when you begin live sparring drills and training with a partner.
“Imagine yourself doing a technique, breaking it down step-by-step.”– Instructor Adam Gerrald
What other important pieces of advice would you like to share with GMAU Taekwondo students?
“The most important thing is to be consistent; practice whenever you are not doing something. For example, standing and balancing or stretching while watching television.” Instructor Adam says that flexibility is of utmost importance in Taekwondo. He recommends that students “stretch three ‘heavy’ days per week and ‘light’ on other days.”
Of course, the ‘heavy’ days are ones where you include a proper warm up and cool down. Warm up dynamically and only perform static stretching after a thorough warm up. Further, on any day, students should “stretch frequently and throughout the day.” By that he means light stretching and to not stay in one position, e.g., desk sitting, for long periods.
Other thoughts he shared on stretching include “be consistent” and be careful “taking time off”. To clarify – he explained that too much time off will lead to loss of flexibility, and “the amount of time can vary from one person to another.”
Instructor Adam also emphasizes “goal setting”; stating, “(students) should be constantly working toward incremental goals such as obtaining full split stretches and being able to kick to head height.” He also advises that when students have a block of time to train, “plan out what you are going to do, for example: poomsae five times, practice each kick high 30 times and low 15 times.”
He emphasized that with a plan and goals a training session will be much more productive than one without them. And you should recognize and expect days when you can’t physically train due to long working hours, illness, etc.
Adam also suggested the use of visualization to train your mind: “Run through the list of technique names for your belt level … imagine yourself doing a technique, breaking it down step-by-step. Do a visual walk-through of your poomsae … imagine yourself sparring with a partner.”
Lastly, instructor Adam said: “Online martial-arts training is hard for students that only follow directions. You need to think through each technique in depth on your own. Everyone is different and so you need to make adjustments accordingly.”
Adam also wants to remind you that all GMAU Taekwondo techniques are not only demonstrated through video on the GMAU site, there’s also a written description for each technique. He stated that he tries to be as thorough as he can with those descriptions, and he encourages students to “find holes” in those descriptions and communicate any discrepancies to him. By doing that, the resources can be improved over time through a team effort.
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For more great advice from Adam Gerrald, read the 30 Days to Higher Kicks article and download the FREE guide book available there!