Category Archives: Fitness

How to prepare for a martial arts tournament

Here’s a Martial Arts (Tae kwon-do) lesson plan for tournament training. This is planned to be a 2 hour session and is perfect for tournament preparation. In an ideal world,  you would have a partner of a similar height, weight, gender and age to yourself, and ideally your partner would be better than you. Training with and competing with people that are better than you will motivate you to up your game.

Warm up

With a partner, one person at each end of the sports hall, one person bounces on the spot whilst the other runs up half way does exercise A, runs to the end of the hall to the partner and does exercise B, run back and at half way do exercise C. Run back to your start point and your partner then completes the exercises. Repeat for 3 rounds:

Round 1 – A 10 scorpion press ups, B 30 partner arm rows, C 6 clap push ups

Round 2 – A 20 star jumps, B 10 tuck jumps, C 10 bounce squat jumps

Round 3 – A 20 crunches, B 20 partner crucifix leg raises, C 20 Russian twists

Dynamic stretching

Leg raises in front and to the side

Speed training

Lean against the wall with your hands, drive your legs up and down (bringing your knees as high as possible) continuously for 10 seconds.

Lying face down, when the coach shouts, spring to your feet and sprint to the end of the hall as fast as possible.

Drills (gloves and feet pads on)

The following drills are to be performed for 30 seconds per partner.

  1. One partner has their hand out whilst the other continuously does axe kicks (with the same leg) over their partners hand. Swap legs and let your partner have a go.
  2. One person holds a kick shield whilst the other partner performs alternating back kicks.
  3. One person holds their arms by their sides (alternatively, hold them up as targets) whilst the other partner does alternating turning kicks to the arms.
  4. One person holds their gloved hand up as a head section target. The partner will perform reverse turning kicks, alternating side/leg each time.

Partners stand one behind another. One person leads whilst the other follows. The lead partner practices their ring craft by moving dynamically around (shuffling forward, back, left, right, pivot, double step). Change over so your partner has a go.

Repeat the footwork exercise above, but face each other so you’re mirroring your partners footwork.

Partner sparring drills:

  1. Jab, cross, turning kick to head/body, disengage/move away from your partner
  2. Powerful sidekicks against your partner who has their gloves across their body
  3. Parry/Palm a side kick down and strike a powerful cross to the body

Free sparring

4 x 2 minute rounds (30 seconds rest between rounds)

Exhaustive sparring – one side is given extra exercises e.g. 20 burpees, while your partner rests, then spar. Adapt your sparring to your tired condition rather than trying to push harder and do the same thing as when you have energy.

Warm down 

Core strength work – lying on your back raise your feet six inches off the floor. Circles, v-ups, in and outs.

Leg conditioning – 20 slow side kicks, front kicks, turning kicks and hook kicks (use a wall for support if required).

Static stretching – box splits, hip flexors.

Full body workout with a partner

  1. Warm up with suicides – running from a base line to a line (5 metres away), back to base line, line (10 metres away), back to base line, line (15 metres away) and back to base line.  Repeat three times.
  2. Dynamic stretch from legs, mid and upper body.
  3. 30 arm rows.  With a partner, face each other and hold each other’s wrists.  Then push and pull hands rapidly backwards and forwards 30 times.
  4. Agility ladder (2minutes per bullet point)
    • Left foot out, right in, left in, right out, left forward in, right in, left out, right in, left in, right out etc
    • Jump two feet in, jump forward, two feet out, squat, jump two feet in, jump forward etc
    • One hand either side of a rung, press up and move laterally side-wards along the ladder, press up etc
    • Left foot in and right foot out, switch sides, switch sides and move laterally up the ladder
Agility ladder squats

Squats on the agility ladder

  1. Press up  (25 seconds per exercise, 5 seconds rest)
    • Scorpion press up – as you lower yourself down bring your knee to elbow, push up back to the normal press up position.  Repeat with your opposite knee.
    • Leg raise press up – as you lower yourself raise one leg (straight) as high as you can, push up back to the normal press up position.  Repeat with you opposite leg.
    • Wide press press up – lie flat on you front with your arms out in a crucifix position, bring your hands in a few inches either side and press up.
    • Wheel barrow press up – one person hold the feet/legs up of your partner, whilst they perform elevated press ups.
    • Diamond press up – put your hands together in a diamond formation and press up and down (this is to focus on the tricep).
    • Left/Right press up on a medicine ball – put one hand on a medicine ball so you’re lopsided, press up, roll the ball onto the opposite side and press up.
Partner press ups

Partner press ups in synch

  1. Crunches (50 seconds per exercise, 10 seconds rest)
    • Penguin sit ups – in a sit up position, lift your shoulder blades off the floor, bend round to the side and touch either heel and switch sides.
    • Crucifix – lie on your back in a crucifix position, keeping your legs straight raise them to the ceiling and to the floor (6 inches off the floor)
    • Russian twists – sit up to 45 degrees and twist your body either side from left to right.
  2. Static stretches to cool down

Body weight workout routine

This full body workout routine does not require a gym or any equipment except for a skipping rope (if you don’t have one, simply jump in front and behind a line). The routine starts with a gentle warm up followed by three sets which focus on legs, arms, abs, cardio, stretch (active recovery).

Warm up
3 x 3 minute skipping
Jump legs (both feet together) and spotted dogs over legs

Set 1
Squat bounce jump
Scorpion press ups (knee to elbow)
From the press up position, bring alternating knees slowly up to your chest
Star jumps
Back superman stretch

Set 2
Lunge in every clock position
Press up and creep forward
Penguin sit ups
Burpees
Splits (left and right)

Set 3
Squat front kick
Inverted flies
Plank
Skipping
Back against wall (splits)

Alternative Plyometric Exercises

I’ve incorporated plyometric exercises into my routine for a while now (explanation of plyometrics) and have come across some more. Like most of the exercises and workout routines posted here, they are focussed on developing the necessary muscles for martial arts:

    From the lunge position, jump up by driving your back leg to your chest
    Box jumps
    Bunny/frog hops (from low squat position to a tuck jump)
    Hop, skip and jump
    Clap push ups
    Alternating jumping lunges
    Push up and feet take off (like a horizontal star jump)
    From kneeling, jump into a squat position
    Push up into a squat (by tucking your knees right in)