In the countries where winter comes with capital letters, there is a genuine question about how to train when it’s too cold outside.  Partially, the question is whether or not you’re training for where you live, or if your martial art is for your vacation someplace warmer.  Slightly less harsh is to look at ways to train indoors.

During his latest visit with the Midwest Haidong Gumdo masters, Kwangjangnim Jeong Woo Kim mentioned the idea of training in seasons, that there are seasons of intense training and seasons where traveling and teaching is his focus.  (Since Master Kim is the Director of Education for the World Haidong Gumdo Federation and the USA’s grandmaster, we all owe him a great debt for his constant efforts to share Haidong Gumdo with our country!)Master Kim Seminar Big circle

Coincidence or not, the weather snapped from autumn to winter right at the end of master’s training last week, so I have thought long and hard about what to focus on for my own training.  Sure, sometimes there is no option but to bundle up and deal with it, but I have always thought that martial arts is about finding the most efficient ways to do things instead of simply building up to 10,000 earth-downs (push-ups) every day.  We’re not super-Sayans, so training in 100x gravity isn’t our path to leveling up.  That’s all the more true as we age and it takes us longer to recover from severe strain.

If you don’t have 15′ ceilings or 30×30′ areas of floor space, what can you do to train?  Here are the ideas that I have so far:

  • Candle Snuffing: This drill is done sitting or kneeling.  If you don’t want to get wax all over your floor, set a tennis ball or a golf ball in front of you.  Get good enough to tap the ball without sending it flying.  Given how much we love Netflix, consider kneeling or sitting for your favorite show and practicing your sam dan baegi!
  • It’s tough to do overhead cuts indoors, but the saseon naeri baegi (and saseon olleo baegi) don’t tend to hit the ceiling in gimase if you’re cutting forward.
  • Find something to hold onto, whether a no-bounce hammer that you can get at the local convenience store, or even a toothbrush travel holder, and you can practice most anything.  It isn’t going to help your grip and forearm strength, but that isn’t the point of stance focus drills.  Stance Focus 1-6 don’t move that much, and if you keep at it they’re a great workout for cardio as well as technique!  I used the travel toothbrush holder last winter to memorize the ssangsu geokgeoms 1-8 when the windchill hit seventy below zero.
  • Some drills don’t use a lot of overhead space, even with a muggeom or gageom.  Defense focus 1 & 2 and thrust focus 1 – 3 should be doable even in a hallway.
  • Cross-training.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a season to increase your general fitness with cardio, strength training, and stretching, so that when the ice clears you are in much better physical conditioning for specific Haidong Gumdo ideas.  Swimming, stationary bikes, treadmills, Total Gyms, yoga… The list is endless.  One of my personal winter goals is what Mr. Kiel Soon Park called “hundred kick drills”.  I’ve slacked off on one of my master’s core training techniques and I want to get back up to speed on it.  I think the cardio and leg strength will really help me move better in Haidong Gumdo.
  • Gumbeob fragments: I have heard that some masters in Korea will spend an hour working on nothing but the second sequence from ssangsu gumbeob 4.  That’s just one tricky area of of many transitions or combinations that don’t require a high ceiling.  How are your flourishes for chaggeom?  Are you getting good stances for the big blocks in SSGB 7?  When was the last time you practiced the disengage/sword knocks from SSGB 5?  Pick a problem spot and make it your weekly (or even your winter) project.

Those are my opening ideas!  Have you found useful indoor training for the winter season?  I’d love to hear about it!