Being both an avid traveler and obsessive martial artist, I often feel I’m living two contradictory lifestyles. Martial arts requires dedication and routine, making sure you train every day no matter what. Travel is unpredictable and exhausting, and the last thing you want to do while exploring a new country is tire your body with an intense martial arts workout. If you are coming to China for the purpose of training while traveling, consider these articles: How is Kung Fu Actually Trained in China?, Train Kung Fu in China: Where to Start? and Meeting a Master for the First Time.
So How Do I Work My Way Around This?
Over the years I have approached this from many different ways. I’ve tried doing intense workouts in hotel rooms or parks, leaving myself totally drained of energy and unable to sitesee the rest of the day. I’ve taken breaks and just not trained, but then felt guilty about it afterwards. Finally, I took the middle ground and started working on short routines that weren’t tiring but could help me keep up my skill. In this article I will share a few of my “training while traveling” pointers. They are not only for travelers, but suitable for anyone with limited time and space who want to keep their skills sharp.
The Most Important Point for Training While Traveling is Regularity
Doing a really intense workout on one day, and then having to rest for three days is not a good idea while living on the road. We aren’t trying to make great leaps in our training, only maintaining our already attained level. The key here is little but regular. Try to aim for 15-30 minutes either in the morning before you start your day, or in the evening after you have finished. Although, if like me you enjoy a beer on a night, then morning is obviously the better choice.
So What Do I Actually Do For Training While Traveling?
Well, that varies. What you need to also remember is when traveling, chances are you don’t have access to equipment or a training partner. So basics, sections of forms and body weight exercises are your best bet. I always start with joint rotations: arm circles, turning at the hips, waist rotations etc as a warm up to keep my joints nice and loose. Then I will do some stretching, this is another thing that needs constant maintenance. Next I will do my three main stances: horse, bow and empty (often called cat stance). I don’t hold them for as long as I do in regular training, as I when traveling I’m often walking a lot. I generally do 10-20 seconds for each one. Next I do the plank for a minute, followed by 20 push-ups. Finally I do a few minutes of Ping Qi, a breathing method we use in Mantis. So this is my core routine, and pretty much never changes. It is a condensed version of what I usually do at home as a warm up. After this I take a few combos or sections of form, according to what I was working on before I hit the road, and taking into consideration space in a hotel room (if there’s no quiet parks or open spaces nearby). I will do 10 reps of maybe 5 different combos and then I may finish with some specific Fa Jin excercises or some shadow boxing.
What is most important is to stay active. If you don’t have the time or mood to train your martial arts, you can still keep active while being on the road by taking part in sports or local games wherever you are, swimming, walking, hiking etc. If you don’t mind being stared at, you can bust a few moves while waiting for a train, or do the plank or horse stance if you get a free couple of minutes. On the whole, just keep yourself active and have fun, and remember: martial arts is to make life more enjoyable, not take away your life!