Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
Martial Arts, unlike regular or performing arts schools, donít have the summer off normally. For many Martial Artists, the Art is a way of life that is bound by season. However, eventually we need to take a break and spend time on vacations with the family or business trips for our various careers. Here are some tips to helping to keep your Martial Arts sharp even if you must be away for a period of time.
1. Have a plan
It helps to have an idea of what sort of downtime you will have on your trip. Remember, we are always overly optimist about the amount of time we have at the start of a trip and often run out of time by the end. So if youíre planning on anything to keep up with your Martial Arts, make sure you make it reasonable for your schedule and then cut it back. For instance, if you will be gone for a week, guaranteed youíll be more on schedule at the start of the vacation than at the end. So plan to do some work on your Martial Arts up front and give yourself a break towards the end of the week. Early in the day is often better than later as it is least disruptive to schedules.
2. Compact your training
I know of very few people who will just go outside on their own in a strange hotel and practice Martial Arts routines in a parking lot. In fact, the only time Iíve felt comfortable doing that is with other students/instructors and in a place thatís expecting it, such as at a Martial Arts conference. Thus, I would not force you to go out like that and do Martial Arts. However, if you are willing to, that is often the best way to get it done. Parking lots are normally the only real open spaces most hotels have.
If youíre more like me and perhaps not as quick to jump outside, consider compacting your training. Pick things you can do that will fit in smaller areas. For instance, you can take the time to work on your stretching and flexibility. Or perhaps thereís a particular stance, kick, punching sequence, etc that youíve been struggling with; take some time to work on that specifically. I had a friend once who use to do fencing. To do fencing, you often need some sort of partner/opponent and space; but the key to their art is in the wrist movements. He would often walk around and practice moving his wrists in patterns that echo those of his drills. Same ideas could be used in Martial Arts, taking small movements like a sweep of your foot and working it into a step here or there to get practice and attune the body.
3. Itís all in the mind
Many sports athletes who are top of the game spend time before each match to visualize the plays. There have been studies done that prove such visualization promotes better performance. Building on that, you can use the time you plan on your vacation for Martial Arts to meditate and visualize yourself doing the form or the match. If youíve never done this before, it may be hard to get into at first. But over time, it becomes a very powerful technique you can use even when youíre not on vacation. Visualization through the mindís eye strengthens the connection between the body and mind and will help your Martial Arts overall.
4. Give yourself a break
Donít be too hard on yourself if at the end of the trip you realize youíve not done anything at all in Martial Arts. I know itís easy to get down on yourself because of this and often will chew away at you until it no longer becomes enjoyable to do Martial Arts. Itís important to love what you do, so donít beat yourself up over it. Itís okay if you end up not doing any Martial Arts at all. It happens, even to the best of us. Sometimes, you just really need the downtime from everything and that is just as important to your Martial Arts as the actual training. Remember, Martial Arts is about the whole person, mind, body and spirit, not just the physical.
Once youíre back home, get back into the groove of going to classes and your normal routine as quickly as possible. A smooth transition back home will make it easier to maintain the consistency of your training.
Good luck and have a good vacation!