Martial Art Home Training Guide

By Stephen Cheney

Here are some helpful tips to assist you when you leave the Dojo and train at home.

Where You Learn

The Dojo or training hall provides a controlled environment where you can learn from instructors to perfect the technique and also the art aspect of your martial art.  The spiritual awareness side comes with time devoted.  In the Dojo, when you do not understand something it is a good idea to ask your teacher when appropriate, he who hesitates to do so has lost the moment.  With much to cover in the limited time in the Dojo, the techniques that you are taught must be practiced at home, for swifter learning.  

The techniques are especially designed so that they can be taken home to practice effectively what has been taught in the Dojo.  The more you practice, the more you will learn and progress.  People have different rates of learning and a combat martial art, more than a sport martial art, can serve you for a lifetime, so do not worry about having to comprehend something immediately.  You learn in class with a partner - or teacher - and you practice at home by yourself.  Your teacher makes the effort to teach: and you make the effort to train.  The more you train the better you are.  The better you are the greater your advantage if attacked.  Also you will be more confident to tackle all the other problems in life (there are many). 

If you have an injury remember that in olden times when combat and warfare were common, a warrior often had some injury and that did not prevent training.  If injured low you train your upper body, if upper body injured you train your legs.  Never aggravate an injury, allow it to fully heal. Self training for say 15-30 minutes a day will promote a healthy life.  Remember that a technique practiced properly 10 times is more beneficial than a technique practiced sloppily 100 times.

You Are Not Alone:
  • When you practice by yourself you are not fighting the air.  There is always an opponent with you.  You need to make an effort to Visualize him.  It takes two to tango and more than one to fight.
  • Therefore when practicing alone, create in your mind the presence of an opponent.  Use your Imagination to see and feel the presence and body of an opponent.  
  • When practicing a Block you need to See the incoming body and the striking limb of your opponent so that you can match its Speed and contact with it.
  • See in your mind’s eye the moving opponent: so that you can Time the Tai Sabaki movement of your own body to be in harmony with theirs.
  • Make notes from your class to assist your remembering and learning.
  • Practice at first in slow motion to see how each part fits into another; only speed up much later when you feel that you have the movements right.
  • Practice to get the correct form; then the correct foot movements; then the correct hand movements.  Then practice the same technique till your stances, balance and breathing are right.  Then still practice slowly but without any pauses, to move smoothly.  Then practice faster without pauses; then even faster keeping flow and harmony.  Most real fights are decided in seconds, you be that moment.

Learning The Language of Combat 
  • You practice techniques repeatedly to learn how to do them and how they work.
  • To distinguish one technique or item from another the Japanese (or other, often an Asian) language is used world-wide.
  • By knowing the name you can know what your instructor wants you to do and also you can later communicate to your partner as to the technique you wish to work with.
  • Japanese needs not be learnt as a language, its words are simply used to describe or label what you are doing.
  • Your mind needs to learn to associate a technique with its name.  Therefore, whenever you are repeatedly practicing a technique, remember to say in your mind, each time, the name of the technique that you are doing.  Repeat actions, repeat names.

Learning Questions

When you are learning a Technique (a Waza), you need to understand what you are Trying to Do and match that with what you are actually doing.

There are three Questions that you can ask yourself when doing any Waza:
  1. What am I trying to Do?
  2. What Tools do I use to achieve it?
  3. How do I best apply those Tools?
These can also be considered as:
  1. What do I Aim to accomplish?
  2. What do I Need to accomplish it?
  3. How do I Use it effectively?

These questions and variants apply to any warfare; and also to business and also to life.

1. AIMS - Can be such things as: 

Preparing yourself for a conflict;
To Retain Awareness and Guard
To Control Fear;
To Strike an Opponent;
To Avoid a Strike;
To Apply a Lock;
Distracting the Opponent;
To Apply a Throw;
Off-Balancing the opponent;
To Control them on the Ground;
Improving your own Balance;
Escaping their Locks or Holds;
Moving your Body, the Target;
To Breakfall safely;

2. TOOLS - Can be such things as:

Tai Sabaki – Body movement;
Posture and Stance;
Push and Pull, going with a Force;
Breathing and Shouting;
Blocks – Deflections;
Lowering Hips for leverage and mobility;
A shaped hand or foot, punch, chop, kick etc;
Centering and Circles of ‘threat and safety’;
Sensitive Targets – Atemi;
Awareness and Focus;
Levers and Leverage.

3. APPLICATION - Can be such things as:

When is it best to apply the Tool (Situation);
What will give the Tool more Speed;
How to choose a Tool;
What will give the Tool more Power;
How to Shape the Hand that Strikes;
What are your options when attacker varies:
What Angle does the Tool best need;
How to Shape the Hand that holds and Locks;
What are the Lines and Directions of Force to use;
How to get the whole body involved;
How to send a Tool towards its target;
How to Flow it all together;
What is the Tool’s best Distance of use;
How to change to something else;
What will give the Tool more Accuracy;
Stages of: Setup, Application, Aftermath.

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Hi Cheney,

    This is a very useful tool not only for combat but also for everyday life, specially when dealing with people. I like the questions that we need to ask because they will help our mind to stay focused on the matter at hand, and avoid distraction, thus increasing effectiveness. Thank you, mate.


  2. Stephen, this guide is useful for business people when it comes to the mental exercise; but in physical terms, I think that perhaps only people who have basic training should practise alone at home, am I mistaken?

    1. Cristina, in the business sense asking the right questions structures your economic planning, actions and guides your future. In the personal development sense it is the same. The martial arts are really about self development, to know yourself better as you adventure in learning by handling self imposed difficult tasks (such as learning, Kata or techniques) and by that surviving difficult situations. There is a spiritual side of course. You are taught to recognize and respect realities and to overcome real problems. To face the truth of life and how meaningful yet transient it is; and death how inevitably it changes lives. Difficulties to be overcome in battle, in business, and in personal matters are often caused by persons not by things. Your daily opponents are not things but are people. So spending time on training, learning from experts and practicing and training yourself when able, to handle people and their difficult natures and the dangers that they bring, is an important education.


Post a Comment

Dissecting Society welcomes all sorts of comments, as we are strong advocates of freedom of speech; however, we reserve the right to delete Troll Activity; libellous and offensive comments (e.g. racist and anti-Semitic) plus those with excessive foul language. This blog does not view vulgarity as being protected by the right to free speech. Cheers