How to Warm-Up to a Class in Martial Arts

Classes generally begin with warm-ups. The goal here is to raise students’ heart rates, and loosen and stretch their mus­cles. The warm-up should take into account the training planned for the lesson. For example, a class that will involve a great deal of kicking demands a warm-up with lots of leg stretches. In many cases, the instructor will not tell the class what they’ll be practicing. Therefore, the warm-up is like a radar signal that detects what’s ahead.

However, just because a class will consist of kicks doesn’t mean the rest of the body shouldn’t be warmed up. Neck roles, push-ups, hip rotations, knee rotations, and even feet exercises are necessary to avoid injuries. Also, observe the degree of warm-ups. Are they so tough that most students can’t keep up? If twenty push-ups are too much for some students, are they allowed to stop? Are they encouraged to do something else such as sit-ups? Can they finish the rest of the push-ups using their knees rather than their toes for support?

If you’re observing an evening class or even an online self defense training, you may notice that most of the students will have had a full day at work or school and are justifiably tired. A good instructor uses the warm-up period to motivate. He pushes students to try harder, but doesn’t fatigue them. He radiates enthusiasm—and it’s contagious. He reminds them to breathe properly to keep them from tiring. At the end of the warm-up, students’ energy levels are high, and they’re anx­ious to begin class.

Observe students as they warm up. They should do the warm-up exercises in synch with one another, breathing prop­erly and, if the instructor commands it, counting aloud. Their eyes should be focused straight ahead, and their demeanor should show concentration and determination. Rolling eyes are a sign that they’re unmotivated. Laughing is a sign that they’re not serious about their art. Exasperation is a sign that the warm-up is too tough, and a bored look means the warm-up isn’t challenging enough.

While you’re at it, notice if many of the students have injuries. Though just about every martial arts student incurs an occasional injury, numerous students with bandaged ankles and wrists and taped fingers could be a sign of a careless instructor. If a student has a slight injury, the instructor should allow the student to forgo any exercise that stresses the injured limb.

After warming up, the instructor can take any of a num­ber of approaches. He can have the class perform drills of blocks, punches, and kicks; practice their forms; spar; or per­form self-defense techniques on one another. Whatever approach is taken, you’ll want to start focusing your attention on the instructor

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About the Author: Cody Riffel is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo. She likes to write on variety of topics, whatever interests her. She also likes to share what she learns over the Internet and her day-to-day life.

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