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10 Things You Can Do Outside the Dojo to Become a Better Martial Artist | Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu

10 Things You Can Do Outside the Dojo to Become a Better Martial Artist

1. Train Your Balance.
Improving your balance helps your kicks, throws, takedowns,
stances, and many other techniques in the martial arts. Try
standing on one foot while you put your shoes on and tie
them, one foot at a time. While you’re waiting in a
check-out line or for a bus, you can also train your
balance simply by standing on one foot. If you’re going to
do this, however, try to do it inconspicuously, unless you
don’t mind people thinking you’re a bit strange! Below are some extra tips for training balance.

2. Practice Your Stances.
Stand on buses or subways in your usual training stance without
holding onto anything. If you don’t want to attract too
much attention, it’s better to keep your hands at your
sides. Try to maintain the structure of your stance while
the bus moves and sways without taking a step. When the bus
turns, stops, speeds up, slows down, you’ll learn
to compensate for the bus’s movements in order to maintain
your stance, by keeping your knees bent and
shifting your centre of balance. If you’re forced to step
out of position, take the step while maintaining your
stance’s structure.

3. Develop Your Sense of Strategic Positioning.

Consider your position in relation to people around you.
If you were attacked, would you be in a strong or weak
defensive position? If you had to defend yourself suddenly,
how could you use your position to your advantage? Asking
these questions helps you improve your strategic awareness.

4. Improve Your Awareness of Your Physical Surroundings.
Consider what kinds of physical objects in your immediate
surroundings you could use to defend yourself, whether as a
weapon or an obstacle (i.e. cars, doors, benches, trees, bags, items
in your purse or pockets, etc.), and how you could use
them. By doing so, you improve your ability to improvise in
different situations.

5. Stretch!
Why wait for class when you can stretch almost anywhere? Do
it at home while you watch TV, in your office, on public
transit, etc. Even if you can’t get down on the ground, you
can still stretch your arms, wrists, neck, shoulders, back,
and even your legs in some ways. Watch office chair stretching videos to learn more.

6. Practice Breathing.
Whether you do formal meditation in seiza (kneeling), or even just
take a minute or two to close your eyes to focus on your
breath, practicing your breathing relaxes the body and mind
and improves your focus. Long slow breaths from the abdomen
are best. Notice how it expands and contracts as you
inhale and exhale.

7. Sit or Stand Up Straight.
Posture is an important aspect of the martial arts. So why
is it that so many of us start to slouch as soon as we
leave the dojo? Whether you’re standing on the bus or
sitting at your desk at work, make sure your back is
straight and tall with your spinal disks in alignment. Keep
your legs uncrossed with both feet flat on the ground. Try
not to lean on the backs of chairs or try sitting on a
Swedish ball instead. Not only will your posture improve,
you’ll also be working your abdominal and back muscles too.

8. Visualize!
Even if you don’t have time or space to physically practice
your techniques outside class, you can always do them in
your mind. Imagine yourself doing various strikes,
techniques or patterns. Make the picture in your mind as
detailed as possible. Imagine the position of your hands
and feet, your stance, your posture, every aspect of the
technique that makes it effective. Your body and mind are
interconnected, so if you can do a technique in your mind’s
eye, it helps you do it physically as well. It also helps
you memorize the patterns and combinations of your art.

9. Use Your Peripheral Vision.
Having good peripheral vision is a key element in sparring
or defensive situations in which you don’t know where the
next attack is coming. Since most people don’t actively
use their peripheral vision, it’s a good idea to
consciously practice using it. Next time you’re on a bus or
waiting in a check-out line, try using it to make out
details of the people around you. Without looking directly
at a person, you should be able to note someone’s hair
colour, what color clothes he or she is wearing, whether he
they’re taller or shorter than you, etc. By training your
peripheral vision, you expand your field of perception.

10. Take the Stairs.
This is a simple way everyone can add a little extra
exercise in their daily life. Walking (or running) up
stairs helps improve your endurance and is great for
developing leg strength. It’s an even better workout if
you’re carrying a load. And oftentimes it takes less time
to get where you need to go than taking an elevator or
escalator.

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