can you learn martial arts online

Can You Learn Martial Arts Online?

Today not everyone has the luxury of time or the inclination to train in martial arts at a traditional gym or dojo. This reality often sparks the intriguing question: Is it feasible to learn martial arts online by oneself?

The answer is nuanced. While it’s possible to pick up certain martial arts techniques and moves at home, primarily through online videos, this method of learning has its limitations compared to the comprehensive training offered in a gym. For instance, practicing punches and kicks on a punching bag can certainly improve your technique. However, the critical elements of sparring, such as defense strategies and managing distance with an opponent, are challenging to master in a solo environment.

Training at home doesn’t offer the full spectrum of experiences one would find in a dojo, where the guidance of an experienced instructor and the opportunity to spar with different partners play a crucial role in honing one’s skills. But that’s not the whole story.

The real question is whether attempting to learn martial arts at home is worthwhile. This article aims to delve into the potential benefits and drawbacks of home-based martial arts training. If you’re curious about whether you can turn your living room into a space for martial arts growth, stay tuned for an insightful exploration!

The prospect of learning martial arts online comes with a host of surprising benefits, making it an appealing option for many. Let’s delve into these advantages, highlighting why this mode of training might be more than just a makeshift alternative. Keep in mind that there is no one global martial arts university, but instead, there are several different types of online martial arts class you can take.

Comfort and Convenience of Home Training

One of the most significant perks of online martial arts courses training is the ability to practice in the familiar and comfortable setting of your own home. In an era where stepping out isn’t always feasible or desirable, transforming a corner of your living space into a personal dojo can be both productive and enjoyable.

For those who experience social anxiety or feel intimidated in a gym or dojo setting, home training offers a stress-free environment. There’s no pressure of being watched or judged by others. This freedom allows you to embrace being a beginner, to be clumsy, and to fail – all integral parts of the learning process – without self-consciousness.

Flexibility to Rewatch and Review

When training online, you have the luxury of revisiting specific techniques and instructional videos as many times as necessary. In a traditional class setting, you might hesitate to ask the instructor to repeat a demonstration, not wanting to disrupt the flow of the lesson or appear inattentive. At home, however, you can pause, rewind, and rewatch a particular move or concept until you fully grasp it. This ability to learn at your own pace can significantly enhance your understanding and execution of techniques.

Equipment Considerations

While online training offers many benefits, it’s important to note that replicating certain aspects of gym training at home might require some investment. For instance, a punching bag becomes an essential tool, providing the resistance needed to effectively develop punches and kicks. Without such equipment, you might find yourself limited to shadowboxing, which, while valuable, doesn’t offer the full spectrum of training experience.

While online martial arts training has its limitations, which I’ll explore later, it’s undeniably better than not engaging in any physical activity. Even practicing a couple of basic techniques repeatedly at home puts you ahead of someone who remains inactive. More importantly, the enjoyment and personal growth you experience through this journey can be immensely rewarding.

Downsides of Learning Martial Arts Online 

While the convenience and accessibility of learning martial arts online are undeniable, this approach comes with significant drawbacks that are important to consider. In this section, I’ll delve into some of the key limitations that online martial arts training entails.

The Absence of a Training Partner and Instructor

One of the most critical aspects missing in online training is the presence of a training partner and a live instructor. This gap leads to several interconnected challenges:

The Missing Element of Sparring

Martial arts, fundamentally designed for combat, rely heavily on sparring as a method of pressure-testing techniques in realistic scenarios. Sparring is essential for developing practical skills that are effective in real self-defense situations. Unfortunately, this crucial element of training is absent in a home environment, significantly impacting the development of combat-ready skills.

Lack of Social Interaction

Training in a gym or dojo isn’t just about learning martial arts; it’s also a social experience. Over time, these spaces often transform into a second home, and fellow trainees become close friends. This sense of community and camaraderie is something that simply cannot be replicated in online training.

Technical Limitations Stemming from Solo Practice

Inability to Develop Distance Management

One of the nuanced skills in martial arts is understanding and managing the distance between you and your opponent. This critical aspect of combat is challenging, if not impossible, to develop when training alone. Distance management is a dynamic skill that requires the presence of another person to practice effectively.

Absence of Defense Training

Defense is a cornerstone of martial arts, and without a partner, you miss out on learning how to defend against real strikes. Even if you master the movements of a technique in solo practice, there’s no guarantee that these skills will translate effectively in a real combat scenario or even in a sparring match. The unpredictability and resistance offered by a live opponent are vital for developing a well-rounded defensive skill set.

Despite these limitations, it’s important to note that online martial arts training can still be a worthwhile hobby. It offers a starting point for beginners, a way to stay active, and an opportunity to develop a basic understanding of martial arts techniques. However, for those seeking to immerse themselves in the art fully and practical application of martial arts, training in a gym or dojo with a qualified instructor and training partners remains irreplaceable.

Best Martial Arts to Learn Online 

If you’ve geared up with essentials like a punching bag or a training dummy and are now pondering which martial art to dive into, the key is to focus on styles that are conducive to solo practice.

We have a few suggestions for you depending on the type of martial arts skills you want to develop.

Striking-Based Martial Arts Training

Martial arts that emphasize striking techniques are typically more suitable for online learning. These styles allow you to practice punches, kicks, and other strikes against a bag or dummy, which can somewhat replicate the experience of hitting an actual opponent.


Karate is an excellent choice for online learners, especially with so many karate academy online available at reasonable prices. It focuses on striking techniques such as punches, kicks, and knee strikes, which can be effectively practiced alone. The kata (forms) aspect of Karate is particularly well-suited for solo practice, allowing you to develop technique, balance, and coordination.

If you would like to learn Karate, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Lyoto Machida, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion:

karate course


Taekwondo, known for its emphasis on high kicks and quick footwork, is another martial art that can be learned online. Its forms and patterns are ideal for solo practice, helping to improve flexibility, balance, and the precision of strikes.

Boxing and Kickboxing

Another Western alternative is boxing and/or kickboxing.

They can also be practiced alone, but just as with karate, a heavy bag or some punching dummy would be great, since it can substitute a sparring partner in some minor yet important ways. 

Of course, these martial arts are a lot better if trained with a sparring partner, but they can be trained alone as well, which is the important part and unfortunately cannot be said about many other martial arts. 

If you want to train boxing, you can even get reasonably good at it on your own with enough dedication and a bag, except that you won’t learn much about range and blocking.

Strikes, endurance, power, and other elements of your martial arts prowess can be greatly improved alone, and this is nearly the same in kickboxing and karate as well. 

Muay Thai could also be a great idea, but there are quite a lot of clinches and even throws in it, and if you take those out, you are left with something really similar to kickboxing. 

If you would like to learn the basics of striking, or just improve your existing striking skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Anderson Silva, one of the greatest strikers in MMA history:

striking course

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, involves striking with fists, elbows, knees, and shins. Much of the basic training in Muay Thai, such as working on strikes and combinations, can be effectively done alone with a heavy bag.

A few others that you could consider is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Krav Maga, both of which have beginner course material online. Though you may not be able to earn your black belt online.

The Bottom Line

In the end, it is up to everyone to determine for themselves after weighing the pros and cons, whether given action or activity suits them or not.

However, I do believe that a final verdict can be made when it comes to this topic, and it can help you decide what suits you best when it comes to training. 

The bottom line is that martial arts can be trained and learned at home, but to a significantly lesser extent, in a different way, and with some extra equipment.

Heavy bags, speed bags, or dummy bags might be necessary if you want to bring out whatever is possible from your online training experience. 

Martial arts like boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, perhaps Taekwondo, and some more striking-based martial arts can indeed be learned at home since they are the ones that don’t explicitly require a training partner and can be trained alone to some extent.  

This makes these martial arts some of the best options for training at home, but it still doesn’t mean your expectations should be as high as with training in the gym, since a month in the gym is worth at least six months online, if not more. 

Since you are missing out on some of the most crucial elements of martial arts training (sparring, blocking, distance, pressure-testing), your art will not be as useful, and it will also require you to invest in a bag of some sort as a form of compensation. 

If you believe you have the discipline, self-control, and the will to practice and learn martial art online in the comfort of your home, by all means, do so!

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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