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whistlekick Martial Arts Radio

Aug 25, 2016

Martial arts training in different locations - and different types of locations - can yield strong benefits.

Different Training Environments - Episode 113

Show transcript below.

What is up everyone? It’s time for another episode of whistlekick Martial Arts Radio, and here we are with episode 113. And today we’re going to talk about training in different environments.

I'm whistlekick’s founder but I’m better known as your host, Jeremy Lesniak. whistlekick, if you don’t know, makes the absolute best sparring gear, apparel, and accessories for practitioners and fans of traditional martial arts.  I'd like to welcome the new listeners and thank everyone that’s come back again.

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Let’s talk about your training. Specifically, where you train. If you’re like me, like most people, the vast majority of your training is at your dojo, dojang, academy, training hall or whatever you call it at your school. You might have mats or a hardwood floor. But the surface probably doesn’t change. The lighting is probably the same and if you’re like most schools, you always face the same direction.

For some martial artists, this routine can pose a problem. It really comes down to two things – engagement and practicality.

By engagement, I mean that your surroundings have a lot to do with the energy you invest to your training. Different people, different locations and different sights, sounds and smells seem to wake people up and inspire them to train harder.

By practicality, I mean that we adapt to our surroundings and aren’t quite as adept at taking action in strange environments. This doesn’t just go for martial arts, but for anything. It’s not a martial arts problem, it’s a human being problem.

Let’s talk about the engagement challenge first. If you’ve been listening to the show you know that I’m an advocate for training with different instructors, attending seminars and otherwise varying your education. Of course, that will require you to go to different places and you’ll learn differently because of those environments, but what about the rest of the time?

One of the most interesting things I ever saw in a martial arts class was when an instructor had a kid’s class turn 90 degrees and face a different wall. It was like a different group of children. They were suddenly attentive, powerful and really invested in the class.

About 10 minutes later, as the energy level waned, the instructor did it again. Sure, there was likely some benefit from the small break the kids had, but I have no doubt that looking at a different wall was enough to wake up the children’s senses. In fact, I’ve done this myself when I teach children, and even adults, if they seem to be fading.

There are other ways to up the engagement in your regular-old training facility. Changing the lighting can be huge. Adding a colored light or turning off some of the lights completely changes the space. Drawing the shades, kicking parents and visitors out for just one night, and even putting sunglasses on everyone can make a huge impact. Anything that alters the sensory input will prompt a response. The longer someone has been training, chances are, the stronger the response.

Let’s talk about the actual physical space now. You can change it all you want, but at some point, you have to consider that it’s exactly the same space. There’s benefit to training outside that space as we’ve already discussed.

Where, though, can and should you train?

If you want to freak out a younger or newer student, take them to a crowded park and ask them to do a form. Chances are, they’ll panic. Will they panic if they’re attacked in that same place? Chances are they’ll be more willing to use their skills, but that anxiety that comes up from people watching them is still important to address.

Training outside, in different weather conditions, with strangers watching, adds a whole new dynamic to training. If you’ve ever been part of a demonstration, you’ve probably witnessed this whether you realized it or not. People act differently in different environments. Some people seem to draw strength from training in a wooded environment, others do better during a beach training.

My challenge to you is to go out and try training in different environments. In fact, I’m going to give you a checklist right now and I’d urge you to try checking them off in the next month. Even for 15 minutes, try practicing in your car, in a public park, in the woods, at the beach or a pool, in front of your house, in your bedroom and on top of something high-up like a tall building. Try and do at least one of these at night, one during a good rainstorm, one while it’s hot and another while cold. Be present during your training and see what you observe. There are lessons to be learned from each of these and all of them make you a better martial artist.

The elements and locations that you find most challenging are the ones that will yield the greatest benefits if your practice embraces them.

I’d love to see photos of listeners training outside, training in the rain or in other non-conventional places. Do you have a favorite location to train outside of your school? Where is it and why do you like it? Whatever your comments, let us know. You can comment on the show notes at or on social media - we're on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram - all with the username whistlekick.

If you want to be a guest on the show or maybe you have an idea for a show topic, go ahead and fill out the form on the website. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can stay up on everything we do. You can learn more about our products at, like all of our great shirts, and you can check out our awesome line of sparring gear there or on Amazon.

That’s all for today, so, until next time, Train hard, smile and have a great day.