Ever wondered whether you could learn martial arts at home, without going to the gym?
In this article, I am going to tell you whether that’s possible and if it is – how you can do it and which martial arts are the best to pick to learn at home.
Keep reading for more information on learning martial arts at home, since I am going to bring you a complete guide – from the initial steps to the final elements – so that you can compare it with actual training sessions and decide on your own.
Can You Teach Yourself Martial Arts?
The simple answer to this question is – yes, you can! But, as it often is, the simplest answer is not always the most precise one.
Namely, on a general level, you can certainly learn some martial arts from home and usually up to some degree.
Since martial arts usually involve combat, you will have a hard time mastering that aspect without a sparring partner who – like you – knows the elements of that martial art (you might find an amateur, but it’s debatable how useful that would be for you).
So, yeah, you can teach yourself some of the moves and techniques, but it is debatable whether such training is really efficient.
There are a lot of online courses you can follow and learn from, but you will have several issues while working like that.
For starters, you will have no one to correct you.
Although online courses are good, martial arts often have very small, precise, and very significant elements which you might miss while following an online course and you have no one to correct you.
While working with a master directly, he can easily monitor you, follow you and correct you where needed.
The second issue you might have is that there is no direct motivation and psychological “pressure” that usually comes when working in a group.
If you work at home, you can take your own tempo, you can slack off and rest as much as you want and you don’t have to uphold a tight schedule.
Plus, there’s no one there to see you and there’s no one there to motivate you to be better.
Group sessions have a fixed schedule, you have the instructor who motivates you and you want to be better than the rest of the group.
Although this is merely a psychological thing, it can be very important when considering training at home.
The third issue relates to sparring and combat.
In order to master a martial art, you need to know how to apply what you have learned in a real-life situation or organized combat.
Since you train at home, you don’t have a partner to spar with and you can never fully master this aspect.
Certainly, you might be able to find a sparring partner, but he should be on – at least – the same level as you, if not better because it doesn’t make any sense to do it otherwise.
So, to conclude – you can teach yourself martial arts at home, but it is never as effective as doing it in a gym.
You might learn the moves and the techniques, but you will never fully master them and it is questionable how effectively you’ll be able to apply them in a real-life situation.
So, if you just want to work out and learn something new in the process, you can do it at home, but if you want to be a professional or a master, then you will have to visit a gym and start proper training.
Training at Home as Supplementary Exercise
There is one aspect where training at home is pretty efficient – as an addition to regular training.
So, while you practice regularly in the gym, practicing at home could be very useful to increase your fitness, your endurance and to potentially perfect some things you practiced in the gym.
As a supplementary method of training and exercise, home sessions are good, but they should never be your primary source of martial arts knowledge.
Easiest (and Best) Martial Arts to Learn at Home
Some martial are better suited for practicing at home than others.
It would be very hard to imagine practicing MMA, wrestling or judo at home, wouldn’t it?
But there are some martial arts and some styles that are better suited for home training sessions and I am going to present them to you.
Tai Chi (Chinese: 太極) is, along with Shaolin, the best known and most popular style of kung fu around the world.
It is an inherently internal style with Taoist influences dating as far back as the 12th century, although the style was virtually unknown in China until the last 100 years or so.
The concept of the Yin and the Yang is essential to Tai Chi, as is pacifism.
It is a very slow style that focuses on awareness, which is why, today, it is mostly studied for its health benefits.
It also increases one’s softness and flexibility.
Tai Chi is a good pick because it is strongly focused on self-practice, even if you actually go to a gym.
There is no sparring in Tai Chi, which means that you will be able to learn a lot more than with some other martial arts, simply because Tai Chi is designed for the lone practitioner.
Although it’s technically nor a martial art per se, but rather an exercise based on movements taken from a martial art, cardio kickboxing is also good for practicing at home.
Cardio kickboxing is actually a combination of aerobic exercise and kickboxing.
More specifically, it is a group work-out class that combines the basic elements of aerobics and aerobic exercise with the martial art of kickboxing.
It is a fairly new phenomenon that developed in recent years and is, so far, the only martial art adapted to the rules and concepts of aerobics.
It is a very high-energy type of exercise and is quite challenging to both beginners and experienced athletes.
Cardio kickboxing is mostly done by combining the essential elements of kickboxing – punches, kicks, etc. – with high-paced, rhythmic music that has a very strong psychological effect.
An instructor leads the group and instructs them to practice different punches and kicks to the music in the background, thereby combining the necessary elements.
Both upper and lower body movements are utilized.
A training session includes a warm-up and cool-down phase, as well as the very important stretching exercises.
Because of the high pace and the complexity of movements, stretching is essential in avoiding injuries, but also if you want to advance, since better flexibility allows for the realization of more complex moves.
Cardio kickboxing is primarily a group fitness type of training, but just as you can watch Jane Fonda on your television and work out from the comfort of your home, you can also watch cardio kickboxing videos and work out at the same time.
How effective it is, depends on how much effort you put in, since there are no exact moves or techniques to master – you simply work out and do your best to follow the video instructions.
If you make a mistake, there is no problem because cardio kickboxing is not focused on the technique, but rather the workout itself.
If you would like to start doing kickboxing at home for cardio benefits, I highly recommend checking out the course “Aussie Formula” by John Wayne:
On a general level, you can learn some basic self-defense from your home, even without a sparring partner.
With a partner, you can do a bit more, but never quite as much as in a gym, where an instructor will lead you properly and simulate good situations for you.
An effective martial art to choose here is the Israeli technique of Krav Maga.
This defensive technique is the best thing you can do to improve your self-defense, but you have to be careful.
Krav Maga will teach you how to finish it as quickly and as aggressively as possible.
Krav Maga’s offensive techniques are focused on your opponent’s most vulnerable body parts (e.g. the groin era and genitals) and are seldom restrictive, i.e. they don’t teach you how to go easy on your opponent.
On the contrary, they teach you to be strong and efficient, and there are a lot of moves that can seriously injure or even kill your opponent.
This is why you can learn some basics at home, but have to be very careful when applying them.
If you would like to learn Krav Maga, the course I highly recommend is the one by Frass Azab:
Doing boxing at home might be a very good, if not the best option for martial art training at home.
To be more precise, you won’t have a sparring partner nor a trainer, but a punching bag alone could help you a lot.
All you need is a punching bag and a place to put it. And boxing gloves on top of that.
You will sharp your boxing skills to some degree, but only the punching aspect.
Defense, controlling the distance, and similar things will be very hard, next to impossible to do at home.
You should be aware that punching the bag at home alone is nowhere the same when you are at the gym with other people.
It will help you a bit skill-wise and especially fitness-wise, but don’t think that doing boxing at home alone is the same as with other people.
To sum it up, it can serve as a good workout for your body, and you will develop some boxing skills along the way, but it hardly resembles that what you get from the gym, coaches, and sparring partners.
If you would like to learn the fundamentals of boxing, or just improve your existing boxing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Teddy Atlas, one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time:
What Equipment Do You Need to Learn Martial Arts at Home?
Unlike professionals and gym goers, home practitioners don’t need any complex and or fancy equipment for their training sessions.
You don’t have to buy any formal clothing (e.g. kimonos) or fighting equipment (e.g. helmets, body armours, gloves) and you don’t have to have any sophisticated training materials a gym usually has.
A small, simple punching bag, some support for your ankles and wrists, maybe a good pair of shoes to reduce the risk of injury, and maybe some simple weights to elevate your strength and that’s it.
If you are still deciding on which martial art to choose, and whether you should learn it from home or gym, I highly recommend reading my article about what are the best martial arts to start with.