Can You Learn Martial Arts at Home?

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    Can You Learn Martial Arts at Home?

    The question of whether martial arts is something that can be learnt at home or (as many martial artists maintain, should be practiced only in a club environment) is something that’s been discussed internally within the DAREBEE team for some time.

    Bearing in mind that I’ve got a martial arts background that now spans almost four decades I have given some pretty deep thought to this. I have always trained in clubs, but that’s because I was doing competitions and that, inevitably, colored some of my thinking. But across the world, of all the people who do martial arts just 5% choose to compete and less than half of them choose to compete consistently, for long periods of time.

    So, there are two things here which have made me change my mind. First, martial arts clubs, provided they are of a decent quality, will only help you learn some things faster and are great if you need a social element to your martial arts training or want to compete. That last one is a clincher. There is no way you can become good at martial arts competitions if you do not actually practice competitive martial arts which is different to all of the traditional martial arts styles that are taught according to specific stylistic restrictions.

    Second, martial arts, by definition, is an optimization of the body’s kinesiology. By performing a kick or a punch in a particular way we recruit muscles, strengthen and condition supporting skeletal structures and tendons and deliver a ballistic movement in an energy-efficient way. All martial arts started the same way that anyone starting to learn to do martial arts at home starts: by taking a move and performing it again and again and again until it feels right.

    The body has its own underlying logic governing motion and energy expenditure. Perform one kick ten times and you can do it any which way you like. Perform it 1,000 times and the body begins to optimize so that it doesn’t waste energy unnecessarily or risk injuring itself.

    So, after all this long write up the short answer to the question “Can you learn martial arts at home?” is yes. Two Darebee Team members have done just that following our programs and though they may lack fighting experience when it comes to their moves they are actually pretty darned impressive. I hope this helps settle it in your minds a little.

    Hello @damer,

    Thanks so much for this very insightful post. I'm amazed about your conclusion and/but I'm willing to accept it considering your experience and the empirical evidence you gave.

    This shows again what an amazingly useful and versatile project darebee is.

    I think i will give it a try with martial art training with the help of darebee once I completed my next plan (90 days of action)

    Thanks again, Cheerio. Martin


      I have been "kinda-sorta" learning martial arts for a few decades.
      Mostly at home.
      Gotta say, there's a lot you can learn in the quiet of your own room.
      But you'll never get really good at it. Not unless you occasionally try out your moves with a partner. Preferably a willing one!
      But, I've been forced to go the other way. Most of what I thought I knew actually worked. Some didn't.
      Doing most of my training 'off-line' really benefitted the training in company.
      Since I get in maybe one fight per decade, I don't need a whole lot of training.


        Great post Damer !

        Since DAREBEE was the first fitness project that included martial arts moves in training routines I reckonned it was only a matter of time before people really get into martial art itself
        On an interesting side note: has anyone noticed that even Crossfit started to release courses and video tutorials on combat moves? Just saying...

        Learning martial arts is a lot like learning to play an instrument. You have to rewire your brain in order to get the movements right and let your fingers fly over the fretboard of a guitar or place a precise uppercut. You have to develop the coordination to use your arms and legs at the same time to play the drums or bang out a hook while performing an evading sidestep. With time you will get faster, more precise, more powerful and dynamic.

        You can most definitely learn all this at home by yourself. Is it the easiest way? Debatable. Some people learn faster when they're on their own without the pressure of someone watching or telling you what to do, others prefer having input from other people and thrive under supervision.

        It's just like with anything else: if you want to become better at one thing, you have to do this one thing. If you want to be able to play well with a band, you need to practice with a band. If you want to be good at fighting other people, you need to train with other people.

        But for some people who can't afford expensive lessons (or a gym / club) training at home is the only way, and for those people this post is motivating and relieving - to know that it is an absolutely plausible alternative

        Thanks for this, Damer


          Great analogies! TheRaven


            Training martial arts at home can be a good foundation for bigger things. When you have some your own experiences, you know how to control your body, then you can choose a style and sign up to a club to continue martial arts journey.


              Great stuff, Damer and TheRaven. I just wanted to add a question, or a nudge into a different path too:
              - Is it worth keeping in mind that it depends on the martial art in question, too? I mean, I do judo, and that is not impossible but really quite silly to try practising alone, as it requires both uke and tori to be facing each other. I can see how the training alone would work for things that don't involve close physical contact (and you could probably train in various kata without ever actually throwing someone, just focusing on form), but I'm not sure it applies in full on ways such as judo. Thoughts?


                thanks Damer great point and actually a recurring theme in many many posts here. Great insights from the posts above.
                To give my contribution I think that there are several cases to separate well in order to give some ideas looking at first for the goals people are after when training martial arts :
                - competition : without a competition it is quite tough to become a champion hence the need to practice in a club
                - fitness : this is a tricky one since most people are actually in a fitness mode even when they don't really know it. What is fitness mode ? you train to make your body fitter = leaner, well being etc In this case being in a group can be motivating and a teacher can be helpful but one can as well learn on his own
                - competitive fighting = fighting given the rules of a game/sport cf. back to competition
                - spirituality : this one is tricky too because a master is the only way to get to the advanced stuff but on the other hand the "real" masters are few and among many charlatans
                - self-defense : without opportunity to practice it will be tough though some arts pretend there can not be any preparation for fighting and avoid the training issue with great success other drill a lot and get some good results- Which one is better ? no one can really tell but one thing is for sure to know what a technique is worth it needs to be applied (though this part is always arguable because the most realistic simulation remains what it is : a simulation)
                - art and expression of the body : in this case we can still learn alone or in a club, in any case it will be the amount of training you put behind it and the corrections to every single tiny detail that can be spotted in a mirror, by a friend or a trainer.
                As of today I think there is an issue not to underestimate, martial arts are a business like fitness and other wellness discipline and there are good and honnest people and other less... Sunday I went to a fair with my daughter about the cultural activities available in my town, there were as usual the local sport clubs with among them the martial arts and sports. I was casting a glance on the kung fu school's depliant that proposes high qualified classes specialized in Shaolin, Taichi, Sanda, demonstration art, Qi Gong, kungfu (ahahahaha) and goju ryu karate with 2 teachers that have national diplomas... In this case I think one is better off by himself because it is actually what it is : cheap mass products aimed to gather some money out of people. It reminds me of restaurants that propose Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Sushi... It's thought to attract an audience as wide as possible without aim for quality. A friend of mine (Vietnamese) has a Chinese restaurant and once when asking him why he didn't put Vietnamese on it, his answer was Chinese is easier to sell... Since 3 years he also has Sushi because it is hype currently. Therefore I would stay off everything that proposes martial arts in these conditions (like the gym that proposes, bodybuliding, crossfit, pilates, fitboxing and krav maga).
                I practice an internal martial art (or at least it is considered as such) and I get horrified how these arts (Taichi and Baguazhang) get constantly mixed up with esoterism and other sectarian practices while being miles away from anything near to martial promising some incredible health benefits or martial abilities outside of the norm. As such I know I won't ever reach the highest levels of my art since some practices need a master's guidance but since the master is not available I would rather not consider some aspects of my art rather that illuding myself and miss them anyway...


                  Wow! Some really deep comments here and it is great to get so many other perspectives in. vahal clearly not all home practice is possible. Judo needs a partner at the very least in order to get to grips with the feel of shifting weight plus some kind of diversity so thsat the body does nto become used to say fighting a smaller or larger opponent.In that regard a club environment is inescapable and more beneficial than home study. But as xingyiquan said there are many, many aspects to martial arts. Competitive martial arts is intensely practical its main priority is to deliver a payload (i.e. a punch or a kick) from A to B as fast and as hard as possible. In the regard all martial artists tend to find the same shortcuts. I competed against karatekas and kick boxers and their moves were the same as mine and I trained in Tae Kwon Do (primarily). But beyond the competitive element martial arts uses the body as an instrument and as TheRaven's analogy goes, we try to play it as beautifully and accurately as possible. Martial arts, then is a way of finding that mind/body balance where we feel good in ourselves and happy with the way our bodies can move. That can be accomplished anywhere.


                    its always interesting to see your texts about martial arts, this is the second time i see it and cant leave without saying that it is inspiring!
                    i've quit karate due to college, and my sensei only teaches at a club really far from my neighborhood, thus, i was hopeless about practcing it again T_T
                    but thanks to darebee, i've regained some confidence.

                    TheRaven It's just like with anything else: if you want to become better at one thing, you have to do this one thing. If you want to be able to play well with a band, you need to practice with a band. If you want to be good at fighting other people, you need to train with other people.
                    totally agreed, if someone who's public prasied for a certain skill, we have to know that this person had practiced it alone until that skill had reached "perfection", in other words, grinding


                      I hate being the late comer to these threads, especially after all the subject matter experts ( xingyiquan in particular) have already put my thoughts into texts. BUT..... I'm still going to post because it's in the spirit of discussion. My martial arts training background starts from being a child born in the 80's and caught up in the 90's cartoons, movies, and television shows. (Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, VR Troopers, American Ninja movie series, Kickboxer, Bloodsport..etc..) I started going to the local library to learn Karate before moving onto Ninjitsu. Eventually, I took Shotokan Karate lessons for like...2 months. Continued my self training through 2002 when I began my training in Shaolin Kung Fu. Never finished learning the entire lineage, but it's been my solid foundation to this date. Now I have learned from other arts: Modern Day Arnis, Boxing, Wrestling, Escrima, Tae Kwon Do, Wushu, Wing Chung, Bagua, BJJ, Modern Army Combatives, Capoeira.... all just to understand the science of Martial Movement and Application. That wealth of knowledge has lead me to become a pretty decent teacher at the Academy.

                      I'd like to say that my journey through the martial arts world has followed the path of the ,"American Dream." A person who has made them-self become something simply through dedication and passion for that something. So I am going to coin this phrase and you can also say it started here. I am an American Made martial artist. I started learning on my own and then went out to seek guidance, and I feel I have actually learned something. Although my "Kung FU" can be better. I put Kung Fu in quotations because somewhere along my journey, I've learned that Kung Fu can be translated to something like: Greatness through Hard work. So one can say they have Kung Fu in drawing. They have Kung Fu in singing....etc. We can also thank Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the Forbidden Kingdom for that bit of knowledge as well.

                      But to close this post, I'd like to refer back to the orginal post by Damer. "Can you learn martial arts at home?" Well the answer is certainly YES. But let's dig deeper. How far can one learn martial arts at home? That is the million dollar question. Everyone here in Darebee has probably started to learn at home either through a book, youTube tutorial, Tae Bo series...what have you. It's that curiosity that started our individual journey. But where do you want to go with it? xingyiquan pointed out all the different avenues one can explore in a martial arts journey. His opinion is also supported in a book entitled Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit written by Taejoon Lee.

                      With the title of the book in mind, we all must remember that Martial Arts is deeply rooted in combat. So, despite the avenue we choose, we ought to pay homage to understanding even the most basic of techniques. By acquiring the skill, we get stronger, better, and healthier. The workout then becomes a supplement of skill acquisition. If we take that mental approach through our individual training regimens...then we fulfill every aspect of this thread. We can learn martial arts at home and we can definitely go quite a ways. How far then...does your curiosity extend?


                        Originally posted by TheRaven View Post
                        Great post Damer !

                        On an interesting side note: has anyone noticed that even Crossfit started to release courses and video tutorials on combat moves? Just saying...

                        I looked into this myself close to 6 years ago. Was very curious into getting a certification to teach....but I opted not too. But I won't fault people for pursuing this.


                          SelfDefenseTraining47 thank you for adding to this here and what an amazing journey you have had! And yeah Crossfit ... as they say "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".


                            What a faszinating question, and thrilling answers! Thanks everybody When I first read the topic, lots of thoughts floated my mind, but most of it is already covered by TheRaven , xingyiquan and SelfDefenseTraining47 .

                            Anyway, what I feels needs to be mentioned too is surely not limited to martial arts, but espacially important here: to be aware of your body and of what you can do and (more importantly) what you can't. For example, when I was learning Aikido, we once did a training session on light but very fast punches, using some kind of sandsack. And some idiot thought "yeah, now I know how to punch", hit that sack as hard as he could and seriously hurt his knuckles (broken or close to). It is pretty obvious that you shouldn't use your knowledge for things it isn't meant for, but people can be really dumb sometimes, so this can't be stressed often enough. And since martial arts are, well, martial, I think the risk of unhealthful mistakes is greater than in other fields of fitness. And of course that risk would double if you'd try to learn Aikido-, Judo- or similar moves with a partner at home. But as vahal already pointed out, that kind of stuff is not what we are talking about here.

                            So that's why my instant reply to the question in the title was "hell no!", but on second thoughts, you can surely indeed learn loads of stuff if you don't act espacially stupid...


                              Randir kudos and you bring up a great point. All too often, there are people with large egos that want to show off. That tendency can lead to needless harm/injury. It's definitely one thing to be a tough guy versus being a "tough guy". I almost wish I was there to see it happen, because that's the kind of stuff you can't make up. It's like made for tv material. lol