See me here.
To be specific, I'd recommend getting these things if you're looking to practice Karate at home.
You can watch the video (below) of me talking about it, but this article hope to give some additional perspectives that you may find useful.
I know it can be hard to navigate the huge landscape of sports and martial arts equipment, so this list of equipment is my recommendation based on:
- User Friendliness: how easy to use them on your own without a partner/ instructor
- Affordability: these things are cheap or generally affordable
- Value for Money: good cost-benefit
- Ease of Storage: how ease to stow these equipment away at home
Even if your floors are padded, I don't imagine you wanting sweat from a good workout seeping in or worse, creating a slip-fall hazard.
For these reasons, the exercise mat is the bare minimum that I'd recommend anyone who's interested in doing body weight resistance training at home for Karate.
Dumbbells are my preferred external weights to use given its flexibility to be used for full-body or isolated resistance training for both general fitness (e.g. weighted squats), rehabilitation (e.g. shoulder rotations), and Karate-specific exercises (e.g. explosive/ plyometric punches).
Modular dumbbells especially adds value-for-money for the Karate practitioner, because it can be easily transformed into a makeshift chi-ishi (stone mallet) for more Karate-functional exercises.
The trouble with dumbbells though is that you'd need some idea on what kinds of exercises to do with them before you can go off doing it on your own correctly and safely.
So, do a bit of research into improving your exercise vocabulary with the dumbbells or let me know in the comments video if you're interested in having me show you some exercises using them.
Modular/ Adjustable versions of the resistance bands exist, but if they're not readily available to you, start of by getting the light and/ or medium ones first.
Test them out during your own practice to have an idea if the resistance if sufficient; e.g. if practicing punches, resistance shouldn't be too light that you can easily complete 10 - 13 repetitions at full speed or too heavy that you have difficulties throwing a punch without compromising your form/ posture.
But there's no better way to get better at kicking and punching than to actually go hit something.
Yes, it will swing all over the place and you'll need to figure out how to punch/ kick it at the correct time.
And that's the beauty of the punching bag- beyond improving your punching form, it gives you an opportunity, to improve your timing, distancing, and positioning, if you learn how to 'dance' with the bag.
Because after all, your opponent won't stay in place during kumite/ sparring as you try to hit them.
For being able to closely simulate (as much as it can) a live opponent make the punching bag my favourite training tool for Karate, just next to the mirror.
Given this, it makes for a more conducive experience if you can see more of your body, so I'd recommend getting something that shows at least the top half of your body.
Bigger mirrors take more space and money of course, but unlike the punching bag, they're a lot easier to fit into your interior design and you'll use them to check your appearance before heading outside anyway.
So, I think it's a worthy investment in the long run.
What about the other items and tools?
Yes, there's a lot of other traditional Karate tools and exercise equipment out there that I'll talk about in due time, but for now, these items that I've recommend will go a long way in helping you improve your Karate performance.
I still use them actively even after over a decade of Karate practice.
When you can get better at something, you tend to enjoy it a lot more.
And that how you get to Enjoy Karate More!
Above: Video about the topic, if you'd rather watch me go blablabla