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.

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