This page provides information on a variety of balance exercises that are useful for martial arts training. Balance training is necessary for martial arts students in order to avoid falling during advanced kicks, generating increased kicking power and punching power (as being off-balance reduces your power generation) and possibly reducing potential injuries when an opponent has thrown or knocked you off-balance.
All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. If you have had an injury or are in pain, please see a doctor before starting any stretching or exercise program. For additional stretches and exercises, please visit the main Martial Arts Physical Fitness section.
Balance Training Exercises - includes instructions and videos
Air Kicks or Use Kicking Paddles - Rather than kicking a heavy dense target (i.e. heavy bag, BOB or Wavemaster), you can throw "air kicks" (where you practice a kick without a target) or use a light weight kicking paddle. This forces martial arts students to concentrate on the technique and their balance versus using the large kicking bag to help "stop" an out-of-control and off-balance kick.
Blossom Pole Training - If you are truly inspired, you can try the balance work done with Kung Fu's Plum Blossom Pole Training (or known as Mei Hua Zhuang in Chinese). You often see this balance training in old Kung Fu movies.
Balance Boards - Train with a balance or wobble board. These devices will help your balance as well as improve your core strength.
Balance Pads - Train with balance pads. These are large foam pads that allow feet to "sink" slightly and thus add further instability to balance training.
Bosu Balls - Train with a Bosu ball. This is another piece of sports equipment focused on balance training.
Sand - Train in a sandy environment (i.e. at the beach or in the large sand "boxes" used by some professional athletes). The shifting movement of sand adds more footwork instability and thus helps work on your balance.
One Legged Exercises - Standing on one leg while stretching or doing strength training exercises is also used for balance training. Below are some examples of stretches and exercises performed while standing on one leg.
Cross Body Leg Swings - This leg swing balance exercise involves moving a leg sideways across your body while standing on one leg.
Pistol Squats - Pistol squats are a leg strengthening and balance exercise.
Side Leg Swings - This leg swing balance exercise involves moving one leg up sideways as far as it can go (while standing on the other leg). The leg swing does not cross the other leg (unlike cross body leg swings).