How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
How do you get to the world championships next year?
Coming to class is always the first thing. If you don’t come to class at least twice a week, you’re not going to be in a good spot to do well in any tournaments next year. Twice a week, minimum. Period.
In addition to class time, you have to develop a personal practice regimen. How that looks varies widely from person to person. Feel free to comment below with your routine. Some people run through all of their forms every day. Others have a daily meditation habit and practice forms one day and techniques the next. Some break training down into Kuk Sool, strength, cardio, and mobility. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter what kind of split you come up with. The important thing, at least in the beginning, is developing the habit of practice.
So, once you have established that habit, you’ll probably look for ways to maximize your practice time. When you’re strong enough to do a one-legged squat (the negative portion at the beginning of Kyuk Pah Hyung), then you probably don’t need to develop a lot more strength in your legs, but you need to maintain that strength by practicing your hyung and stances.
Likewise, when your abs are strong enough to pull you down so that your fingertips pass your feet (on Kyuk Pah, etc.) your abs are probably strong enough that time spent on crunches won’t benefit you much. Spend that time on something more beneficial.
If your cardio is good enough that you can perform the underbelt hyung (with good stances) “without much trouble breathing” then spending time running or on other cardio efforts is wasteful. Unless you have a specific goal in mind (training for a 5K or marathon, etc.) you can spend your time more wisely.
Another way to add training time without taking time from your schedule is to find ways to build training into your daily life. Here are some examples.
- Park as far away from the door as you can. Walk quickly enough that you raise your heart rate a little.
- When you open doors, use just your fingertips. Either pushing or pulling, you can strengthen your grip. Not a challenge? Start taking away fingers. Make sure your fingers only bend the right way, not the wrong way.
- Horse stance: brushing your teeth, washing dishes, folding clothes, watching television, talking on the phone, working on the computer, etc.
- Strength: taking kids to the park? Use the equipment to train. There are lots of ways to use playground equipment for strength training. Explore the different parks and be creative.
- Walking the dog? Take her to a greenway. Use a heart rate monitor and push yourself a little. Go to an open field and chase your dog: starting and stopping, going fast and then slow is a perfect high-intensity interval workout.
- Long drive? Work on ki cho cha ki (hand and ki exercises). Only do one hand at a time. Do slow opens and closes against your own resistance, and then fast. Practice opening your fingers as wide as possible and closing your fist as tightly as you can.
- Take the stairs. It’s obvious but makes a difference. If you’re adventurous, go up the stairs sideways or backward to switch things up. Use the hand rail though. No need to fall and hurt yourself.
- Stand up desk: These are useful, but standing for long periods without moving is as bad as sitting. The point is to move as much as possible. Get a stool that you can rest a foot on while you’re standing. Feel free to sit down and work every so often.
- Boring meetings? Practice your hyung in your mind. When I used to manage restaurants, I had boring meetings that were the same every month. I spent the time learning to do hyung in my mind. Techniques too. Not a challenge? Try doing two techniques at the same time. Or three, or five. Or a whole set. (Also useful during a commute, but only if you’re a passenger.)
- Social Media: Allow yourself all the time you want, but tax yourself. Every fifteen minutes, practice a hyung. Every post, speed drill a set of techniques.
- Addicted to sweets? Again, allow indulgences, but pay yourself for the privilege by doing slow-mo side kicks and round kicks to build strength and increase mobility.
Adding training doesn’t replace coming to class or your personal practice time. But it’s a way to turn ordinary life into training time. It also keeps your priorities at the forefront of your mind. By working on what matters, you’ll build your own character, discipline, and self-esteem.
There are infinite ways to add training to your day. I’d love to hear your ideas. Share them below, and maybe I’ll add them to the post.