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List of Martial Arts Exercises

author image Mike McLaughlin
Mike McLaughlin has been writing news, entertainment and sports articles since 1990. McLaughlin has written for “The Maine Campus,” “The Bangor Daily News" and various websites. McLaughlin is also a martial arts instructor and certified personal trainer. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an associate degree in filmmaking.
List of Martial Arts Exercises
A woman at the beach performing a martial arts kick. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images


A skilled martial artist typically spends years performing a variety of exercises to perfect his techniques. These exercises generally focus on improving a martial artist’s speed, strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination and balance.

Slow-Motion Kicks

Slow-motion kicking forces the leg muscles and core muscles to work harder throughout the execution of each kick. This exercise can be performed with most of the basic kicks in the martial arts. For example, the traditional front kick can be executed as a slow-motion exercise. To practice this exercise, one knee is lifted and the leg slowly extended forward. After the leg has been extended, slowly return it to a bent position. At least eight repetitions and three sets of this exercise should be performed with each leg. To improve balance, each consecutive kick should be practiced without touching the kicking foot to the floor.

Squat Kicks

Squat kicking is a challenging exercise that builds strength and coordination in the lower body. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat down as if sitting on a chair. When returning to a standing position, perform a front kick. Each time a squat is performed, a different leg should do the front kick. Ten repetitions and three sets of this exercise should be performed during a martial arts workout. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, the height of the kicks can be raised. Higher kicks can help improve flexibility.

Speed Punches

Speed punching is an effective way to improve quickness and cardiovascular endurance. Stand in a horse stance, feet spread apart at a little more than shoulder-width, and the knees slightly bent. The fists should be held at the hips. Speed punches are performed by rapidly executing karate punches at an imaginary target. When one hand returns to the hip, the other hand immediately punches. At least three one-minute sets of this exercise should be performed to get a cardio workout. Staying in a horse stance during this exercise should also create a good burn in the leg muscles.

Tension Kata

Kata is a Japanese word that refers to a choreographed pattern of martial arts techniques. While performing a tension kata, pretend that your punches and blocks are being met with resistance. The muscles should be tightened as each technique of the kata is slowly performed. Martial arts techniques and muscular strength are improved by practicing tension katas. Resistance bands can also be used to increase tension.

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