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How to Self Train
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Authored by Budd Black, posted on June 14, 2010


Last week I talked about deciding to self train. This week, I will show you how to do so. 
Curriculum is very important. You need to decide what style you want to start with and pick up some reference material. What you start with doesn’t necessarily have to be the focus of your training. You are not going to take one video on how to do forms and repeat ad nauseam. But you need to start somewhere and one DVD is a fairly cheap way of doing this. 
You may want to go the way of a distance learning school. This will provide the curriculum for you. They will have all the tapes and testing requirements for every belt all planned out already. Look at reviews, because some of these places are less than scrupulous. 
As time passes you will be able to add to your book/DVD collection. One of the great things about self training is that you will be able to study what you want. If you want to skip forms, that is great. If you want to only study weapons, that is fine too. You can tailor the program to your wants and needs, but start with the end in mind. If you are just marking time until you get back into a normal class, you may want to keep to their curriculum. Likewise if you want to train yourself for MMA, maybe those Tai Chi tapes aren’t the best value for your dollar. 
Once you know what you are going to study, you need to set a schedule. Unless you are doing distance learning, there isn’t any way to advance in rank and you have to mark your own progress. You should put apart at least a couple of hours a week. Any less than that and you will not improve. Family members and friends may not take this seriously, so be stern when you tell them that you have a schedule. 
Your work out should be pretty formulaic. You want to start off with a warm up and then do stretches. After stretching out you can get to the nuts and bolts of practicing techniques/doing forms.   This may include popping in a DVD and using it as a lesson plan. A lot of times these videos will have warm ups and cool downs as well. Be creative and check online for different workouts or ask people you know. You don’t want the program to get stale. At the end of the workout be sure to do your cool down. 
I spoke last week about accountability partners. These are people that are going to hold you to your training. The best kind of accountability partner you can get is a training partner. A training partner is going to be able to hold pads and break up the monotony. They will also keep you honest in your technique. If you are training alone and there is no one to see your crappy kicks, you probably won’t ever change them. Your training partner can tell you that you are doing it wrong. Hopefully between him/her and your resource materials you can figure out how to do it right. 
If you can’t find a training partner, ask a spouse/friend/family member to watch you from time to time. You may have to explain what you are doing or trying to do, but they can usually tell if you are actually doing it. You can also post your training log online and get encouragement from others. If you don’t think you are doing something right or just want a critical eye, video yourself and post it here on the site asking for help. 
Seminars are your friend. Even if you can’t afford a class or the schedules don’t match up, you should still be able to attend some seminars. Seminars can usually be had for fairly cheap and are usually a great value for the money. During the seminar, you will learn new techniques, practice older techniques, and get corrected on all of it. You may even make some friends and/or find a training partner. 
The key things to remember for self training are:
1.      Curriculum-Know what you want to achieve and design your program around it.
2.      Schedule-Set time aside for training and stick to it.
3.      Accountability- Have someone that is going to encourage you to stick to it. 
Remember to have fun and change it up a bit, don’t do the same routine over and over. Good luck!
Have you self trained in the past or are you doing so right now? Let us know how it is going/how it went in the comments. 

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This article was published on by Budd Black.



  6/14/2010 10:38:33 AM

Don't Kid Yourself 
You will need more than a couple of hours of training a week if you are doing self study on your own. You in essence become the teacher and will have to prepare the lesson plans for each and every class. This will require at least 30 minutes to an hour outside of class for every hour in class. I recommend classes of around 90 minutes to maximize your warm up and cool down routines. Depending on your goals, you can even skip these parts and solely concentrate on techniques. Three classes a week is optimal. Before class go through your lesson plan, watch any corresponding videos, take notes, make special note of new vocabulary terms if applicable, and write out the curriculum for the class. Break it down to the number of minutes to be spent on each item and try to stick to it during class. The way I have done this in the past is to take the last classes curriculum, add any new techniques and terms, and remove the oldest techniques that have been in the curriculum for the last couple of classes, and keep a few of the older techniques to continue to improve upon. You won't find this type of specialized detail out of the box from any home study course, it has to be customized to meet your needs.

Put together a "holiday" calendar at the beginning of the year so you can schedule your holidays of when you and your partners won't be meeting for class. This makes keeping a regular schedule that much easier and you won't hear those excuses of "oh, I didn't know we were training!"

Make a mailing list and/or Twitter account to keep everyone up to date on meeting times and changes and what they need to be working on throughout the week. Remember that in a traditional dojo, you learn new techniques during class and are then expected to work on perfecting them outside of class. This is no different when you home train, you still have to practice outside of your regular class time!
  6/14/2010 11:24:12 AM

I was going for the bare minimum for a person to get anything out of it. It would be ideal if a person trained for a couple of hours 4-5 times a week, I just don't see it as realistic. I was trying to make self training accessible. a starting off point. Maybe you should do an article titled "continuing to self train" that goes over doing lesson plans and scheduling and some of the pitfalls you will run into.
  6/15/2010 9:43:56 AM

New Comment 
I know kung fu
  6/15/2010 12:25:12 PM
Anonymously Jerry 

You Guys 
You guys are funny! People don't practice on there own. They think you you just get the info and skill uploaded to you like in the Matrix! That should be an article.

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