A Christmas tail (off)?


It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid…

It’s the season to be jolly, or is it? Most Leisure Centres shut down for a number of days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and even if they aren’t people are often so tied up with family gatherings and other social events that they can’t make any martial arts classes that are still running.

Are you dreading the physical toll of a dearth of training combined with a number of days of feasting?

I’m not going to advise going easy on the food. Whether you are hosting, a guest, or celebrating on your own, everywhere you look there will be the temptation to eat. If it’s there, make the most of it. It’s only for a short time and a few light-eating days will balance things out. Occasional excess is not the same as sustained excess.

I suspect more people are worried about not having the physical exertion and stress relief valve that training provides.

Without a class you are limited, but not that limited. You just have to work within the confines of the time and space you have and switch to a daily routine if you don’t already have one.

My first tip is start early, before breakfast if you can. That moment between waking and joining others is one of the few parts of the day in which you are likely to still maintain a degree of control. Once you start to eat however other jobs, other activities and the food in your stomach (not to mention any alcohol later) are likely to scupper the best-laid plans.

My second tip is keep it indoors. Poor light, poor weather and the objections of others may stop you training otherwise. Indoor training does not necessarily require much space. If you can stand in straddle stance then you can do squats, you can practice hip-work by shifting foot positions, and you can kick on the spot (working balance, flexibility, coordination and strength). If you have more space you can drop and do any number of different forms of press-ups.

My final tip is to keep it simple. The more you set yourself, the more daunting it will seem, the more likely you are to skip it. Choose one or two exercises for strength and one or two for technique refinement. When I am short of space I tend to do push ups, squats, slow side thrust kicks and either one of my own forms or the space saving Tekki/Naihanchi Shodan.

Have a great holiday, and keep training!

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