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How to Teach Yourself Martial Arts

Four Parts:Choosing Your StyleTraining Your BodyStaying in ShapeChanging Your Diet

Learning a martial art is good for the body and mind. Depending on where you live it can be difficult to find a school, let alone afford the classes. Nothing can replace the experience gained from training under an instructor. However, there are a few options for the home student.

Part 1
Choosing Your Style

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    Think about why you want to learn a martial art. People begin learning a martial art for many reasons. Perhaps you feel out of shape, or maybe you no longer want to be picked on.
    • Martial arts are a good way to boost self-respect. When you start training, you will begin to understand yourself better. This will help you understand and respect others as well.[1]
    • Martial arts will help you define and overcome your weaknesses. They are challenging and empowering at the same time.[2]
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    Research different martial arts. Before you start kicking trees and punching walls, do some research on martial arts. Don't just pick what's popular at the time. Find one that you're interested in.
    • There are many different types of martial arts. There are hard styles, which focus on force, and soft styles that focus on manipulation of energy.[3]
    • Another benefit of researching martial arts is broadening your knowledge of fighting styles. It's a good idea to have a working knowledge of other styles if you want to be a martial artist.
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    Pick a style that suits you. Some arts favor strength and others agility. Think about the qualities you have and what you want to nurture as a martial artist.[4]
    • If you want to practice a more traditional martial art, look into Kung Fu or Aikido. The traditional arts tend to place a lot of emphasis on the philosophy behind martial arts.[5]
    • If you have long legs you might consider Taekwondo, which emphasizes kicking. If you're a bit stockier, look into Jiu-jitsu, a prominent grappling art.[6]
    • There is no "right" martial art to study. There is only the martial art that is right for you.
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    Consider how much time you can invest in training. Training in martial arts is an act of dedication regardless of the art you choose. Still, some arts will require more time than others.
    • If you choose an art such as Capoeira, which is a blend of dancing and fighting, expect to spend a significant amount of time learning complex moves.[7]
    • Other arts, such as Boxing, or Jeet Kune Do, are built on efficiency of movement and simplicity. Not to mention there are far more resources to learn these arts.[8]
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    Find materials to help you train. Once you know what you want to study, find resources and equipment to help you along the way. Checkout some books or watch videos online.
    • Invest in a heavy bag if you want to get the most out of training alone.[9]
    • There are a lot of schools that advertise online martial arts classes. While it's not the same as going to a school, you may still be able to learn more than if you trained alone.

Part 2
Training Your Body

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    Start slow. As a beginner martial artist start with the basics. Don't move straight into fancy kicks or acrobatics. Start with the building blocks of your chosen style.
    • Pay attention to your footwork as you practice. After every strike or combination, make sure you have a good stance.[10]
    • Imagine your opponent is standing in front of you. Practice striking, but practice keeping your guard up as well.[11]
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    Practice. The only way to excel at a martial art is to practice. While most people think of kung fu when they think of martial arts, the term "kung fu" has little to do with fighting. When translated, it means "work hard."[12]
    • Aim for consistency in your practice. When punching your bag, for example, focus on hitting the same spot every time. Don't throw wild punches. Slow down and take your time with it. Your goal is accuracy first, then strength.[13]
    • Push yourself. As you progress in your training, practice longer. If you started out doing 50 kicks, try 100. Don't overdo it, though. Take care not to hurt yourself when training. Know your limits, and work to overcome them.
    • It is especially easy to fall into bad habits when training alone. Always take the time to reset your stance and examine your actions while training.[14]
    • Learn new techniques. When you feel comfortable practicing the basics, move on to some more complicated techniques. Don't forget the stuff you know, however. Build your martial knowledge by practicing everything when you train.[15]
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    Find a partner. It is difficult to develop all the necessary skills of a martial artist if you can only train alone. The best thing you can do to progress is find someone to train with you.[16]
    • Your partner does not have to train in the same style as you to be an effective training partner.
    • Try asking your friends that have an interest in learning martial arts to train with you. It may be easier to learn together.
    • If you have any friends that train in a martial art, ask them for some pointers, or see if they'd like to spar one day.
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    Shadow box. When you can't find a partner, practice shadow boxing. Shadow boxing requires you to picture an opponent in front of you while staying in motion the whole time. You have to visualize both the opponent's movements and yours.[17]
    • Start at a quarter of the speed you would normally fight. If you want to do it right at full speed, you have to do it slow first. The goal in shadow boxing is accuracy, not speed.[18]
    • When shadow boxing, be aware of the tempo, or rhythm, of your movements. All the elements of fighting are based on timing. If you find yourself speeding up, relax and try to slow it down.[19]

Part 3
Staying in Shape

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    Perform exercises conducive to your style. Every art uses different muscles. Some place a lot of emphasis on legs, while others favor the arms. While you should aim to keep your entire body strong, find some exercises to keep your art sharp.
    • If you're a grappler, find exercises that strengthen your core and your back.[20]
    • If you're primarily a striker, find exercises that increase arm strength.
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    Incorporate cardio into your workout. Don't just focus on building strength. If you want to be an effective martial artist, you need to have good endurance as well. Go running, or ride on a stationary bike. Do anything to get your heart rate up.[21]
    • Another good way to boost your heart rate is to do a series of calisthenics exercises without taking a break. Calisthenics are exercises that don't require weights. Do push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks to start.[22]
    • Look for more exercises to incorporate into your routine to keep you from getting bored. Try a variety of exercises to target different muscles.
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    Stretch. Flexibility is important in almost every martial art. In learning a martial art you are going to work muscles that tend to get overlooked. Stretching is the only way to keep you from being stiff.[23]
    • Stretch during your workouts, but also before and after your training sessions.[24]
    • Leg raises are a good way to improve flexibility in your legs. Lift your leg in front of you, maintaining control the entire way up. Don't kick your leg up, lift it slowly. Practice leg raises on the side and behind you to cover your full range of motion.[25]
    • Don't worry if you can't stretch to your fullest. Some days you will be more flexible than others. Stretch to the fullest you can on that day. Progress takes time.[26]
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    Give yourself a chance to recover. Learning a martial art requires you to get hit. You will fall down, you will get hurt. Treat your body right so you can continue to practice.[27]
    • Weekly massages are excellent for muscle recovery, especially in older athletes.[28]
    • Keep in mind that learning a martial art is a lifelong journey. If you have to skip a day don't worry. It's better to train responsibly than to not train at all.[29]
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    Keep your workouts effective. You don't need to spend all day in the gym to be a good martial artist. When you consider you need time for training and life outside of the gym, you should try to be as efficient as possible with your workouts.[30]
    • Try to keep your workouts to around 40 minutes to an hour. If they run longer than that, chances are you are wasting precious time.[31]

Part 4
Changing Your Diet

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    Pick a diet that suits you. Martial arts require a lot of activity. You'll need to properly fuel your body if you want to keep training. Find foods that are good for you, and that you enjoy, and make them a part of your diet.[32]
    • The most important part of picking your diet is making sure it is well-balanced. You need a good mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables.[33]
    • Besides the basics, there a lot of vitamins and minerals your body needs to function. Most of these come from a well-balanced diet, but you may need to take some supplements.[34]
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    Make sure you include a variety of foods. As important as it is to find foods you like that are good for you, don't limit yourself to just eating those foods. Experiment with different foods and cook them different ways.[35]
    • Eating a variety of foods also gives you a wider variety of nutrients. The more you mix up your diet, the healthier you will be.[36]
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    Eat several meals a day. Aim for 4-5 small meals a day with some healthy snacks thrown in, rather than eating 3 large meals a day. Adjust your eating habits to suit your training, but above all don't overeat.[37]
    • Try to space your meals out to where you have about 4-4 1/2 hours between each meal. Drink water between meals, and if you must snack, eat a mix of fresh fruits and nuts.[38]
    • If possible, avoid eating at least three hours before you go to bed.[39]
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    Avoid processed foods. When training as a martial artist, it's important that you eat for your health. Don't eat junk foods, and don't drink sodas. Your goal is a balanced diet built on real food.[40]
    • Refined sugars and flours are highly processed. Rather than reaching for cakes and rolls, try grabbing a piece of fruit instead.[41]
    • Instead of soda, try fruit or vegetable juice. Drink green tea instead of coffee. If you have a juicer, you can make a variety of healthy drinks by blending fruits and veggies together.[42]


  • The best way to learn a martial art is by going to a school and training under a professional. While it is possible to learn some basic moves on your own, if you want to become a true martial artist you must find a school.
  • When you starting to learn martial arts don't over exercise at the first day itself.
  • Keep goals per week. Increase things in your workout per week.


  • Martial arts are dangerous by nature. When sparring or training, always be courteous and safe.

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Categories: Martial Arts