How to Practice Taekwondo at Home
The average Taekwondo school holds about 2 classes per week at 1 hour each, which means the average student pays for 2 hours of weekly instruction and lessons. If you are serious about improving in Taekwondo, however, you should be practicing everything you learn at home as well.
Consider this kind of additional training as homework. The more you practice, the more acclimated your body becomes to the rigorous movements. Training at home is easier than it sounds. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to prepare your home for Taekwondo training.
So how do you practice Taekwondo at home? First, you have to find an open space you will comfortable training. Just like in class, you should start every training session with stretches and warm ups. Then you want to follow that with some conditioning exercises. Now you are ready to practice your kicks and patterns . Finally, you will also need the proper motivation. Most people do not have the discipline to practice on a daily basis. If you are one of those people, it is up to you to find a proper source of motivation to continue your training. All training can be done without buying any additional equipment or products. There are, however, certain supplemental equipment you can buy that will greatly help you in your training but they are not necessary.
Find Open Space at Home for your Training Believe it or not, you do not need a lot of space when you are training at home. In fact, if you have an open space of about 100 square feet (10 feet wide, and 10 feet in length), that should be more than enough to accommodate you, especially if you are training alone. To get a better understanding of the amount of space you need, think about the size of a regulation size sparring mat area. I typically find either the basement or garage to be ideal places in the home to practice Taekwondo. Make sure you have Proper Flooring for Taekwondo Training I usually train barefoot as that is my personal preference and choice. Traditionally that is how Taekwondo was meant to be practiced, and it gives you more speed compared to training with shoes. I have trained on probably every type of flooring imaginable and definitely have developed a strong preference for interlocking gym floor mats. The soft cushioning makes it ideal for practicing a variety of kicking drills and combinations. Practicing on carpet is doable, but you risk getting rug burn on your feet from the different kicking drills. These mats are not expensive and can easily be purchased here on Amazon for a very reasonable price. Basements are generally the ideal spots for training, so reserving a space which is about 10 ft x 10 ft is perfect for training at home. Generally the bigger the space the better, but if your space is limited, this amount of space should suffice.
Stretch and Warm Up before Training I cannot emphasise enough the importance of stretching and warm ups. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced student you must always stretch especially before and after training. Stretching helps to not only prevent injuries, but it also helps you get that proper form for your kicking techniques. One of the most important stretches in Taekwondo is of course the infamous split. Whether you have the proper training equipment or not, there is no excuse not to practice this basic stretch. I have found that in addition to stretching before and after training, the most beneficial times to practice your split are in the morning as soon as you wake up, and at night before you sleep. Think of your leg muscles as rubber bands. The more you stretch them the more elastic they’ll become. At the same time, it’s also important to understand that too much force may cause the rubber bands to snap. Stationary Training Taekwondo kicking techniques are easy to learn but hard to master. Consider the difference between a side kick performed by a blue belt compared to that of a third Dan black belt. The difference in mastery, execution, speed, and power can be attributed to years and years of practice. Remember, there are no shortcuts in Taekwondo. Advancement and improvement depend heavily on consistent practice and proper instruction. This is why I recommend practicing and really perfecting the turning kick and the side kick, two of the most fundamental kicks in Taekwondo. When I say stationary training, I mean you should remain in one spot while you are kicking. To do this, you just have to find a spot to grab on to with one or two hands. Then bring up the leg you want to use for your chamber and execute your kick. The chamber, is when you bring your leg up, right before your kick is released. One good practice tip is to hold your leg out for at least three seconds after releasing your kick. This will help you develop great muscle memory for the kick, as well as greatly improve your speed and power. As you advance, you should be able to practice without the support of the wall or whatever else you are using for balance. In my experience, I always practiced this stationary form of training with my turning kicks and sidekicks. After years of practice, this stationary form of training became a regular part of my warm up routine, before starting the more advanced kicking drills. Practice Kicking the Air When practicing your kicks by yourself, with no equipment, you should visualise an imaginary sparring opponent. This helps to follow through with your kicks, and give you better motivation. At first, kicking the air can get boring, and even pointless. But consistent practice will prove beneficial as you become more accustomed to moving your body a certain way to execute your kicks. During my years of training before I received my black belt, I would usually practice each of my kicks at least 10 times on each leg. After months of practicing kicking the air, I began to notice that kicking became easier; it was almost like I didn’t have to think about kicking, but it was more of a natural fluid movement. In other words, by the time I practiced all those kicks, throwing them out became almost an involuntary movement. As a black belt, the number of kicks I practiced on each leg doubled to 20 or more. Advanced level Taekwondo practitioners should actually practice more compared to beginner students. This means training at home becomes a necessity, rather than a recommendation. I myself train everyday, in an effort to constantly improve.
Practicing Taekwondo Outside Not enough space in your basement, nor no basement at all? No worries, there is plenty of space outside! When weather permits, I like to find a grassy area, either in my backyard, or at a nearby park, and practice Taekwondo barefoot. I know what you’re thinking. You’re worried about stepping on something sharp, or worse, something gross. Well you’re probably right to worry because you can never be too sure. I myself prefer to train barefoot so I make sure to examine my area of training to make sure there is nothing that will distract me or cause me any harm. If you’re still a little paranoid, I recommend wearing a pair of light shoes. Generally, Taekwondo shoes are my go to source for training outdoors.
Practice Patterns Again and Again Practicing your forms at home is a great way to not only memorise each step, but to really perfect each of the techniques. As you advance to higher belt levels, keep in mind that you are responsible for perfecting not only your belt level forms, but also all those forms that came before. A black belt, for example, is expected to have mastered every colour belt form, including the form corresponding to his or her dan or degree. I recommend practicing all of your forms at least twice a week, outside of your Taekwondo lessons. Obviously, the more you practice, the more you will improve. When I was preparing for my black belt promotion test, I remember practicing all of my forms nearly every day. If you are serious about Taekwondo and receiving your black belt, practicing your forms on a regular basis is a must! Invest in a Kicking Bag to Improve your Kicks If you are limited to practicing by yourself, investing in a kicking bag should more than suffice for your Taekwondo training at home. Kicking bags are ideal for practicing different combinations of turning kicks. When I was training at home, my go to practice drills included sets of ten turning kicks. This kind of drill could vary with 10 kicks on the same leg, or even 10 continuous kicks jumping from each leg. As basic as these kicks are, consistent practice with these kicks, even if they’re on a kicking bag will greatly help you improve and advance in your training. I myself credit my consistent home practices on my kicking bag .
Practice with Kicking Targets to Improve your Accuracy Kicking targets are great because they help improve accuracy tremendously. Unless you can find a place to securely lodge your targets, you will require a training partner to use this equipment. Again the basic roundhouse kicks are perfect kicks to practice. The advantage with having a partner and using these targets is your training partner can vary the position, to give yourself more of a challenge. Not knowing where your target will be is a great simulation for sparring. I myself have practiced many nights with my father holding targets for me.The unpredictability really helped me improve my offensive kicking techniques as I was forced to kick at different heights on each repetition.
Practicing by Yourself vs Practicing with a Partner If possible, I highly recommend practicing Taekwondo at home with at least one other person. Training together is beneficial because you can easily help and learn from each other as everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. The human body makes the best kicking target, so naturally it will help improve your kicks the most as well. In terms of improving your accuracy, and simulating an actual sparring match, practicing with a partner is much better compared to using any other kicking equipment