It’s time again for another question and this one comes from long time reader Wim who asks:

“To train in martial arts is harder than most people think. You have to train your strength, you have to run and of course you have to train martial arts. So how does someone who has to work a full time job and raise kids balance their martial arts training with other types of exercise?”

Great question Wim. I know a lot of people will be struggling with this problems so I will share with you a few techniques that I have learned along the way.

How to balance martial arts training with other types of exercise

I think the source of this problem is Bruce Lee. It was Bruce Lee who popularised cross training with martial artists. Because of him every martial artist now lifts weights, runs, jumps rope, stretches as well as training their traditional kata or form. Back in the old days in China or Japan the martial artists pretty much just practiced their own art without these other types of exercise. Now, however, we feel the need to do all these other types of exercise to improve our martial arts skills.

Whether this is right or wrong I won’t touch on here.

What I will touch on are some thoughts I have on the matter of balancing your martial arts training with other types of exercise.

1. Realise that we don’t have as much time
Can you imagine a Shaolin Monk in ancient China getting up at 6am, feeding the kids, shaving, getting ready for work and then coming home and doing 6 hours of kung fu?


It simply wasn’t like that back then. These monks were so good at kung fu because they dedicated their whole lives to training their art. They didn’t have families. They didn’t have jobs. They just trained and meditated.

We cannot do that.

So the first step is to realize that we don’t have as much time as the Shaolin monks or as millionaire celebrities like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or Jet Li. With our limited time we can only work with what we are given. And if that is only one hour per day then we have to accept that.

2. Set your goals in stone
Martial artists often try to do too many things at once. They are good at many things but master of none. For example, a karate student might start lifting weights so that his legs are stronger but then realizes that he is spending more time lifting weights than he is training karate. When this happens it means you have lost sight of your goal.

If you write down your goal and always remember it then you will be less likely to lose your way.

For example, if you want to be the best kick boxer in the state then you must remember that kick boxing comes first. Weight training doesn’t come first. Running doesn’t come first. Kick boxing comes first. And while these other types of exercise will help you develop your kick boxing skills, they can also lead you astray.

Always make sure you devote more time to your establish goal than to the other types of exercise.