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  • Writer's picturePSBN David

Solo Training: The Kessel Run

With everyone’s training schedule being completely thrown out lately, now is a good time to write out some tips on how to keep your training up while you’re not in class. I’ll be writing this piece under the assumption you don’t have a family member in the house that you can practice with. Also, if you’ve found something that works really well for you, share it with everyone by leaving a comment!

So let’s break this down into sections: Forms, Techniques, and a combination of Strength, Stretching, and Cardio.

Forms

These are usually the hardest to do for most people just due to the limited space available. Forms take up quite a bit of room when you’re trying to do them properly, and you can only move tables and chairs around so much.

In a limited space, the thing to focus on is individual sections rather than the entire form together. Break it down into small segments in your head, whatever makes the most sense to you. You may not be able to fit the whole form, but you can manage two or three steps.

You also have the added benefit of being completely on your own. This is a test of your memory as it doesn’t let you cheat by looking at someone else when you’ve forgotten something. If you forget, start from the beginning again several times. Sometimes you’ll get to that point and your body will remember for you. If you can’t remember, mark it in your head and move to the next piece you do remember. You can either continue from there, or use that piece to try to “reverse engineer” back to the part you’ve forgotten.

Don’t get hung up if you do forget something completely. It’s a good way to derail your train of thought and interrupt your training. Just move on and ask about it later, or just come back to it the next day with a fresh mind.

Techniques

The main thing to remember when running through techniques by yourself is that it’s strictly a memory exercise. Without a partner to work with who’s giving you honest feedback, it’s difficult to improve the finer points of a technique. If you have a textbook available, you can work on getting it correct in the larger portions, such as stepping or grip. However, without someone on the other end, you don’t have the other factors like weight, reactions from different body types, whether you’re quite getting a pressure point correct, etc. These are all major factors that can affect things like stepping and grip. Use that knowledge to better aim your efforts in your own solo practice.

The main methods for solo practice are memory and ghost techniques. Memory is just as it sounds: run through the sets in your head and try to remember them all. Ghost techniques are where you imagine your partner. This helps to keep the techniques in your muscle memory. Again, just as in forms, don’t get hung up on a forgotten technique. Techniques can be even harder to remember completely as there’s so many more of them, along with quite a bit of overlap between sets. They can paradoxically get both harder and easier to remember the further up you get due to this.

This can also be the perfect time to practice finding pressure points, just on yourself. Don’t just settle for “it’s kind of there.” Use this time to really find the exact spot you’re aiming for. Some of these spots are a lot trickier than you would think! Some points will also have a slight variation on whether you’re striking or holding it as well. For example, if you try to pin down a tendon straight on, it might move slightly and render that part of the technique useless. In which case, experiment to find a way to find and keep that pressure on.

Strength, Stretching, and Cardio

It’s easy to get caught up in just the memory exercises during quarantine. Just remember you’ll emerge on the other side with that “quarantine bod”. This section will be the most variable as your workout can be very different from someone else’s. Often, you’ll excel at one or two of these. That means you should try to improve the one you’re weakest at. Martial Arts require all three!

For Strength, try to find a set of exercises you can do that will get your whole body. If you have weights available, this can help speed up results over bodyweight exercise. Remember that the end goal is to be stronger. That means to not strictly focus on the number of reps you can do. When you’re in a race to get through the reps, your form will often get much worse, especially when you begin to tire. Focus on form first! Google is your friend in finding exercises, but do a bit of research to make sure that they don’t cause injuries in the long term.

Along with this, don’t forget about switching up between rep exercises and holding exercises. Simply put, reps will build up your maximum capacity and holding will build up your longevity. They actually target different things within the body. Reps build muscle fiber, whereas holding will build up the structures around the muscle that supply energy to them.

Stretching is easy, just remember as much of the regular warmup as you can! Again, take advantage of this time to really work on the stretches you have a harder time with. You’re not keeping up with anyone, you’re on your own time here. Regardless of what you’re working on, try to include some stretching before and after, even if it’s just a small amount.

Cardio can be pulled in with strength exercises, depending on what you’re doing. For more strictly-cardio exercises, full body motions, like two-foot hopping or burpees, can be great for getting your heart pumping blood in every direction at once.


After everything is said and done, this is your own training time. It’s also a crazy time. Don’t feel guilty if you miss a workout or if you feel like you’re not doing it often enough. Some days you just need to take a break, whether it’s to recover physically or mentally. Just pick it up whenever you can, and do whatever amount that you can. Any exercise is better than none, and at the end of the day, you’re doing it for yourself.

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