It has 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 this motto: Whoever you are, wherever you are, you only have to know one thing: you can learn anything. In this article, I share with you excerpts from an interview with Instructor Adam Gerrald, the Lead Taekwondo Instructor for Global Martial Arts University, regarding WHAT you need at home to be successful, as well as sound advice on HOW to train at home.
According to Instructor Adam Gerrald (3rd dan Taekwondo black belt & GMAU Instructor) – at minimum – you need a small space for working out, a good training course, and a smartphone for recording yourself.
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 local park. It isn’t a bad idea to change up your practice space from time to time. When the weather is nice it can be fun to enjoy training outside in the fresh air.
Training Course/Online Lessons
You also need an organized way of learning and getting feedback on your development. For some, a brick and mortar training facility isn’t available, is too far away, or is not open at times convenient for their schedule. In such cases, there are many quality options available online or through distance learning. Below are a few great programs and tutorials for you to check out – just click on the hyperlink.
GMAU Taekwondo course: GMAU Taekwondo
Taekwonwoo online training: Taekwonwoo Home
General Taekwondo tutorials: Kwonkicker’s Power TKD Channel
Sparring tutorials: GNT Sparring Tutorial Channel
Smartphone (Recording Yourself for Exams/Feedback)
Luckily, you do not need fancy equipment to record yourself for testing. A Smartphone, which most everyone has nowadays, is all you need. You will need to find a stable surface to prop the phone up or you can purchase a [general purpose] tripod for as little as $10. Mr. Gerrald also discussed 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 Video link before you film yourself and send in testing videos!
“You don’t need that much for TKD training”
Again, there are not many other pieces of equipment you need, but a few that could be helpful include a training bag, mirror, focus pads, reaction ball, and of course basic sparring equipment.
Training Bag (Hanging or Freestanding)
Instructor Adam recommends a heavy bag that weighs at least 80 pounds and is long enough that you can practice both high and low kicks.
You can find affordable hanging bags on Amazon such as this one: Economy Canvas Bag
Freestanding bags cost a bit more: Century Wavemaster
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.
Martial arts have their own unique uniforms. The Taekwondo uniform is called a dobok. No expensive uniform is needed to get started. Find yourself a simple, lightweight uniform: TKD Uniform by Century
“Social support is positively related to regularly engaging in physical activity and negatively related to poor health indicators”
Training Partner (friend or family member)
What better way to enjoy time with a family member or friend than working out and learning martial arts skills? The family that kicks together sticks together, right?! Seriously, though, empirical research has repeatedly shown that social support is positively related to regularly engaging in physical activity and negatively related to poor health indicators. Check out this article by Storm et al. (2018) as one recent example. Don’t have a family member or friend who is interested? Community building websites like Meetup and Fitlink, which have martial arts groups, can be used to connect with others who have similar interests. Of course, one should exercise caution when meeting groups or individual through such sites. GMAU students can also make use of the Student Locator feature to find a partner nearby.
Kicking Target/Strike Pad
Regarding partner practice, Mr. Gerrald suggests that focus pads are good for working on hitting live/moving targets. In TKD, the paddle pad is commonly used as a kicking and striking target that can easily be held at multiple angles and heights by a partner. This is a very low cost piece of equipment, here is one on Amazon: Paddle Pads
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 or for practicing evasive head and upper body movements (like a boxer). Here are a few examples: Kick Training /Punch Training
The development and use of martial arts sparring equipment was pioneered by martial arts icons like Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee and Jhoon Rhee. Basic sparring equipment (soft gear for head and body protection) is a good idea when you begin live sparring drills and training with a partner. Common equipment typically includes a mouthguard, head gear, chest protector, as well as hand and foot padding. Protective equipment is recommended by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine for the prevention of common martial arts related injuries.
Several GMAU Taekwondo students have successfully set up functional home training areas. Check out Thelma Bradshaw’s home dojang in Malvern, Arkansas and Michael Bachrodt’s home dojang in St George, Utah.
Be Consistent and Prioritize Stretching
The most important 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 and 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.
“Too much time off will lead to loss of flexibility, and the amount of time can vary from one person to another.”
Mr. Gerrald also emphasized 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 the training session would be much more productive than one without an outline. Understanding there are days when you cannot physically train (long workday, illness, etc.) Adam 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, or imagine yourself sparring 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, so they need to make adjustments accordingly.
“Imagine yourself doing a technique … breaking it down step-by-step “
All Taekwondo techniques in the GMAU curriculum are demonstrated, by belt level, via video on the GMAU site and there is also a written description for each technique. Mr. Gerrald wants to be as thorough as he can with those descriptions and he encourages students to critically review them and communicate any discrepancies or unclear language to him. By doing so, these resources can be improved, over time, through a team effort by the GMAU family.