Self Taught Martial Arts
Can You Self Teach Martial Arts
How can you practice martial arts alone? Maybe you don’t belong to a club. Maybe you don’t have any friends.
Maybe you just think it’s cool to run around naked in the woods and play ninja all by yourself. Hey man, I don’t judge. Just don’t touch me. Whatever the case, today I’ve got a quick tip to help you make the most of your solo training.
The 2nd Goal Of Martial Arts
Okay, before I give you the tip, let me give you one cold, hard fact. The fact is you will never be a great martial artist if you only train alone. It’s impossible. If you only train alone, well, you’ll be the mayor of Fantasy Land. There is simply no substitute for a live training partner.
Your dog doesn’t count. I always say there are two goals in martial arts training. The first goal is to control yourself, the second goal is to control somebody else, specifically a bad guy who is out of control. If you’re training solo, you can go a long way toward that first goal. You can develop your speed, strength, flexibility, coordination, your stamina, and you can do it a million different ways. You can do calisthenics, plyometrics, isometrics, forms, shadow boxing, visualization, and meditation, and that’s all good training.
But ultimately, my friend, martial arts is about relationships. It’s about relating to another human being, particularly one who is trying to hurt you. A human being who wants the opposite of what you want and is fighting hard to get it. Learning to manage a person like that is the second goal of martial arts training. And to achieve that goal, you will always need another person.
That was your fact! Now, back to the question. How can you improve yourself as a martial artist by training yourself? Here’s my tip. Do something with something.
Train With Equipment
If training alone is over here and practicing with a person is over there, I’d say the middle ground is training with an object, a thing. What kind of thing? It could be a staff, a tube, an exercises band, a ball, a weapon, a heavy bag, a stick, and/or a grappling dummy.
Other Training Options
Use a jump rope, dumbbells, a wooden dummy, a chair, or whatever you can use to train with.
Really, you can train with anything. Just remember the big idea and that is to control something outside of yourself. Even a bag of potatoes is better than nothing. Find something to push, pull, or carry.
You have to challenge your strength, focus, balance, or coordination. The list of ideas is endless. But now, it’s up to you to go experiment with equipment and exercises that are going to fit your style and meet your training goals.
So, if you’re training alone and want to make the most of your solo practice time, do something with something. Then, when you hopefully get the chance to practice with another human being, you’ll have some experience managing the resistance and controlling the pressure caused by something outside of yourself.
Train alone, with objects, and with other people. Do it all. That’s the formula for being the best martial artist you can be.
Which Martial Art Is Best For Self-Learning?
Let’s consider the two main styles of fighting, stand up and ground.
Striking Styles In Martial Arts
You could probably get away with training on your own in striking forms like boxing or kickboxing, but only to a certain extent. The reason I say that is because it’s well-known that one of the most important parts of a professional athlete’s training regimen is sparring. They spend a lot of time doing this and with capable partners, not mediocre people.
A pro has to fight against an opponent who’s able to give enough resistance to keep them at the top of their game. Seriously, do you know how many athletes get injured during training? A lot, that’s how much. Yeah, you can teach yourself to strike, you could even do it by watching a video for guidance, and that’s not a bad idea, but you still need to test your skills on someone other than a heavy bag.
Even if you never get a teacher, mentor, sensei, or coach to improve your martial arts skills, you’re limiting your potential by not practicing with a live partner and also someone who has better skills than you.
Grappling Styles In Martial Arts
I don’t know, what do you think about this? Have you ever seen anyone on the ground grabbing and struggling with thin air? I think this is even worse than standup. Yes, you can buy a grappling dummy and practice with it. That’s good, but to what extent? You need a real human being here. How much can a dummy simulate the actual movements of a real person?
I mean think about this. You have joints, fingers, bones, and the feeling of skin and sweat, and understanding how that plays a role in overpowering your opponent is important. Can a dummy do that for you? Can it provide you with resistance? I’m not saying they’re bad, in fact, they’re great tools to train with, but only as a complement to your real training against a live partner, right?
I mean our bodies move in directions you don’t expect or didn’t know they could, and everyone is different in how they react to resistance. How do you know the limits of how far to go during a technique you’re using? How do you know your skills are even “there” if you’re not testing them out on someone?
I find grappling to be a must and I know that training alone and never with anyone is a no-go. Why? What if you ended up in a fight with someone who actually knows grappling and puts you in a submission move, are you going to know how to get out of it? I don’t think so and that’s because you have no experience. You’re going to sleep, get injured, or God forbid anything worse.
I think that grappling is going to happen eventually in a fight. It may not be if your striking game is up to par, but how can it be if you’ve never put it to use?
Famous Self-taught Martial Artists
Listen, if there are famous self-taught martial artists tell me who they are, give me their names, or give them a pat on the back for pulling it off. Don’t get caught in the hype of media and movies. Oh, so you saw an actor you admire playing a role of a real-life martial artist that went through the trials and tribulations of self-taught martial arts. He became a champion or saved the day.
This is real life and that’s an actor, or actress who is taught by an actual expert in martial arts. Someone who knows what he’s doing. So, in reality, they’re getting trained by someone better than them, and that someone has experience. Unless it’s some yo-yo-type choreography that simply would never pass any actual threatening situations, it’s fake.
There are a lot of fakers out there acting and pretending, and there are some real ones but they train with others and spar. They get on the mat and get into situations they need to figure out how to get out of.
Martial Artists In Real Life
If you look at any famous martial artist, even if they started out learning on their own, they eventually had to go to a dojo, gym, or camp. Even if they went up into the mountains and trained for ten years, it was with a great master who never takes on students, but seriously though, they all were trained by someone or under their guidance.
If you go and do a search for famous self-taught martial artists, you’ll see a list that reveals they’ve been taught or trained by someone.
Here’s a list of famous martial artists and I’m listing boxers too because boxing is a martial art. I’ve listed fighters who’ve actually fought, not played martial arts in the theaters. No disrespect intended to any martial artists on film, but only giving you the facts here. I’m sure they’re well-trained and can fight, but I’m only referencing those that have competed whether professionally or otherwise.
- Khabib Nurmagomedov
- Buakaw Banchamek
- Saenchai Saepong
- Muhammad Ali
- Mike Tyson
- The “Gracies”
- Bruce Lee
- Jigoro Kano
- Chuck Norris
- Daniel Cormier
The list can go on and on, but I think you get the point. Some are on different levels than others but they all worked hard and with people. So, if you want to look at famous martial artists, take a look at the ones who’ve put their skills to the test and put them on the line against the best.
To leave things off here, training should be self-taught and with others. That’s the way to do it. That’s the way of the martial artist.