Sports to Combine, Complement, and Carve Your Martial Arts Skills

If you are well into your martial arts training or if you are just getting started and are not quite ready to part with some other of your favorite sports, you actually might find that you might not have to. Even if you aren’t as serious in practicing martial arts, and we all know how fun kickboxing and boxing classes are, your body and training can benefit from switching it up and cross training in sports that complement the martial arts.
 
Switching up your training can not only give you a mental break from your martial arts training but it can actually help you simultaneously. These sports use and develop the same characteristics that you will find in your martial arts training and are quite enjoyable.
 
Not only is monotony in training less beneficial since your body seems to plateau, it is also not good for you mental y and socially. For example, you might also have plans with friends that want to do or train something different from martial arts. We’re here to help convey to you ten different sports that can get you out of the fighting gym and enjoy a different sport without skipping a beat in training for your martial arts gym or classes.
 
If you are looking for an extra sport to train, looking for a break in your martial arts training, want to develop those characteristics crucial to martial arts in other ways, or just want to gain more friends and a different experience, it will be worth your time to try out these different sport.
 
Here are our top ten sports that complement your martial arts training and the various reasons why:
 

  1. Gymnastics

 
gymnastics
 
Even though most kids enter into this sport at a relatively young age, you’re never too old to begin. It doesn’t hurt to simply practice gymnastics at your local gym for fun and for purely fitness and physical purposes. Gymnastics have a wide variety of different benefits that not only can help your martial arts training but can overall give your body that different challenge it might have been looking for the entire time.
 
What’s the connection:
 

  • Both gymnastics and martial arts are full body workouts. When you’re training gymnastics, you are working highly on flexibility, which can help with kicks and reaching for your opponent. Training in gymnastics also encompasses good training for strength and cardio, which is overall in general what you want out of a workout. Gymnastics is also incredible for balance as well, which can obviously help you when practicing martial arts.
  • Being trained in gymnastics can help train and discipline yourself to be extremely detail oriented, which is important in form and executing a skill correctly. When trying to implement a certain technique or skill, you need to know the “ins and outs” of each detail of the form to do it perfectly. In both sports, it can actually be dangerous if you are not executing the form correctly. Not only can you hurt yourself, but you can virtually hurt others, as well, (in a way that you didn’t want to hurt them).
  • Gymnastics offers a complete kinesthetic body awareness. There are no additives when it comes to tossing, turning, and flipping through the air. It is just you and your body. Therefore when you are trained in the sport, you need to be fully aware of how your body moves, which you can transfer easily over to the martial arts.
  • In gymnastics, especially since it generally starts at such a young age, the learning process and the development of the mental strength and focus as you need to silence your mind and fully commit to the movement of your body is at the forefront of gymnastics training. The discipline it takes to practice progressions is also crucial in both sports because of the minimal margin of error. In general, you cannot have fear in either sport.
  • Gymnastics can keep your training at a good-sized longevity. For example, in gymnastics, training can actually spread out over three or four hours. Therefore both sports teach you to pace yourself so you can give everything throughout the entire training.

 

  1. Soccer

 
soccer
 
Not only is it one of the most popular sports in the world, there is a reason why so many parents across the globe sign up their kids for soccer when they’re little. The sport teaches so many different disciplines,  and it’s outstanding how many are congruent with martial arts. Therefore, if you are looking for a sport to engage in on the weekends, you can take the ball out for a spin and could be simultaneously training for your martial arts class, as well.
 
What’s the connection:
 

  • In general, the training in soccer is beneficial for the martial arts because of the strength-focused leg workouts and overall cardio exercise. There are also various other components that can focus on specific training exercises that help in the martial arts, as well.
  • However, the sport also focuses in on anticipation and getting to the ball before your opponent does or anticipating when to make the tackle. This easily transfers over to martial arts because you have to work on your timing. For example, the training of applying how your body moves and the connection between time and space is crucial in both sports.
  • The peripheral vision and ability to read the game in soccer are also relevant in martial arts. In soccer, you need to always keep your head up and anticipate what your opponent or the ball is going to do. This is the same in martial arts. To be aware at all times and recognize the movements of your opponent is crucial when fighting.
  • Just like martial arts and striking your opponent, in soccer, you strike the ball. The precision of your shot and is such an important component of actually taking the shot. Without shots, there would be no goals. Without strikes to your opponent, although defending is important, you cannot win a fight.
  • Overall, in soccer, you are always training coordination between your different body parts, especially your feet, which are not focused on in a lot of other sports. Therefore, working on coordinated movements and multi-directional movements in soccer can transfer over to the wide range of movements you need to work on in martial arts.
  • Just like there is a massive importance when making your move in fighting, the initial position and the definition in finishing of taking a shot or making a pass in soccer can also dictate the entire play. For example, the way you approach a ball and how you follow through can predict what’s going to happen before it does. Technique is everything.

 

  1. Swimming

 
swimming
 
If you are looking to really branch out on your variety of sports and change your surrounding environment completely, you can look into swimming as your complementing sport to train while you’re in martial arts. Getting into the pool and doing some laps might be more beneficial than you may think. Not only will you probably end up getting a killer tan, you can simultaneously work on characteristics that are also found in martial arts.
 
What’s the connection:
 

  • As an aerobic exercise, depending on the type of swimming exercises you’re doing, swimming long distance can help increase your stamina. This is most beneficial for building general endurance and working on your cardio for your overall athleticism. Training in the swimming pool can help you lasting longer in the ring or in training.
  • Swimming as your alternative training also focuses your exercise on your upper body. You might find that you’re using muscles that you generally aren’t accustomed to using. However, even if you are “strong enough” in your martial arts training, you might actually find that swimming can improve and give you more upper body explosive power.
  • In quite the opposite area of focus, swimming can also give you benefits in a leg workout, if you are focusing on just kicking, for example. There are a lot of different ways that you can get a good leg workout simply in the pool.
  • Depending on the type of workout you have prepared to take on in the pool the proper technique while you’re swimming, using various methods of “sprint” or interval training in the pool, and adjusting a swimming routine can make it an anaerobic workout.

 

  1. Competitive dancing

 
competitive dancing
 
We have all heard that American football players have been known to have done ballet in the past. We also know that it actually works. Engaging in competitive dancing can lead to a whole range of benefits in increasing your physical standing when training for the martial arts. Not only does dancing help with feet and body coordination, it can also improve various other characteristics that are easily transferred over to your martial arts.
 
What’s the connection:
 

  • We have all heard the expression “two left feet”. The last thing you want when you are competing in martial arts is to not have good footwork. Dancing, competitive dancing especially, can help improve your coordination and footwork for when you’re in the ring and you need to dance with your opponent.
  • If you’re training to counting rhythms and beats in dancing, you’ll learn to train your timing. In martial arts, this can easily transfer over because timing is an extremely necessary component when trying to land a much or avoid a hit. Timing can easily help you in both sports.
  • To dance in a group or to follow a choreography helps develop body awareness. Knowing what your body is doing and even coordinating it with the music and other people is extremely important to develop the right mindset and coordination in the martial arts. This type of focus will create a better self-awareness.
  • If you are going to be training and working with competitive dancing in a partner style, it is also beneficial in interaction. Coordinating and being aware of the body movements of someone else is crucial to fighting. This can help in styles like capoeira but are also beneficial in contact martial arts.

 

  1. Bicycling

 
bicycling
 
Cycling can also be a complementing sport to your martial arts training. It provides a second option when you are trying to train your endurance or aerobically. If you are getting tired of running long distances, you can give your mind a break by hopping on your break. Although the two sports differ by a lot in ways of physical demand and which muscles and body types are required for each, biking can still consequentially be beneficial to martial arts training.
 
What’s the connection:
 

  • Cycling generally works on your slow-twitch muscle fibers but can be a great go-to when trying to work on your overall endurance and stamina. Cycling is also perfect to switch up your cardio if you get tired of running. However, when it comes to cycling, don’t overdo it.

 

  1. American Football

 
american football

  • Training for American football can help you train for evading and blocking the strikes of your opponent. This is seen in football when you, for example, are running to tackle the quarterback and the opposition cannot get his hands in the correct position to be able to manipulate you. This also easily transfers over to martial arts.
  • In opposing standards, it also works for your offense as well. American football can improve your ability to wrestle with an opponent in order to manipulate him in the desired direction when you’re fighting, so you can easily pin him down. Football can teach you how to drive, block, and move your opponents backward, which is a skill you often see in some martial arts like in sumo wrestling.
  • American football training and playing can help you also develop the skill that has you fall to the ground as safely as possible. As injury prevention, this skill is called break-falling and is essential for two reasons in martial arts. One of them being is that you are avoiding as much injury as possible when you learn how to fall, for example, not directly with an open hand on top of your wrist. The other is that once you learn how to fall “correctly”, you are able to get up as fast as possible so you can continue on with either the play (football) or the fight (martial arts).
  • In general, football can help you train your abilities in regards to grappling, blocking, footwork, evading opponents, your body awareness, your hand-eye-body coordination, your speed and reaction times, and overall, your core and general body strength.
  •  

    1. Rugby

     
    rugby
     
    Another rough sport, the skills and different components of rugby can also easily be applied to training for the martial arts. For example, just like football, there are physical assets that can transfer between the two sports. However, rugby is a very tactical sport, so the mental strength used in the sport can also make a difference when honing in on your skills and best sorting out how to take down your opponent.
     
    What’s the connection:
     

    • In the sport of rugby, whether you’re training or playing a game, there are certain strategic approaches that are used to take down your opponent or blocking them from taking down your team. Skills that you use in martial arts can be used in rugby on the field. So even when you’re playing rugby, you can practice and use the skills you learned while training in the martial arts.
    • Not only can you transfer in techniques from one sport to another, there are also training techniques and methods that are used in both sports. Rugby is rapidly adopting these methods and is adapting them to fit the sport. Taking the beneficial aspects of blocking, etc., and using them for the sport’s benefit.
    • Overall, training in rugby can help you work on the strength and fitness you need also when you’re doing martial arts. These training sessions can be grueling, which prepares you to commit to certain attributes and characteristics of both sports. In rugby during the training sessions, for example in tackle and ruck situations, used to create turn-over ball.

     

    1. Rock climbing

     
    rock climbing
     
    An extremely physically demanding sport, rock climbing is a perfect training sport that complements martial arts because of the similar nature in which your body is worked upon. For example, many martial arts training involves mostly body exercises, therefore rock climbing is the perfect complement to it. There are also other ways that can help transfer your skill over to martial arts and also how martial arts can help you engage in rock climbing.
     
    What’s the connection:
     

    • In rock climbing, you are virtually working on getting your body from point A to point B. There are various exercises you can do to help tone your body to get it where it needs to be to do so. However, in general, the connection here is that this sport can tone and sculpt your body without bulking it up.
    • Since rock climbing involves you being suspended in the air most of the time just relying on your strength to keep you from tumbling to the ground, this sport develops your muscular endurance. For many reasons, this type of endurance is necessary when it comes to engaging in the martial arts. Being able to last a few rounds in the ring, for example.
    • Reaching for the next available rock or being able to maneuver your body through the air all the while holding on for dear life helps develop your flexibility. This characteristic is crucial in the martial arts for those high kicks and getting your body where it needs to be. The sport also involves discipline in technique because if you aren’t doing something correctly, you might get yourself injured or fall.
    • Even more obvious, you have to really work on reaching and holding on to those rocks or divots in the rock to stay up. Rock climbing develops a strong grip which can transfer over to “grappling” in the martial arts.

     

    1. Yoga

     
    yoga
     
    The calmest of all these sports, yoga is a practice that can not only help in any other type of athletic competition but can also help those who are unathletic or are not competing, at all. However, for the martial arts, there are various components and characteristics of this practice that can easily transfer over to the other. Yoga is a perfect complementary sport for any other sport as well, but with martial arts, they are definitely a marital dream.
     
    What’s the connection:
     

    • In yoga, you are working not only on various poses, but also toning your entire body. Using bodyweight the strength that you develop and work on in yoga can easily transfer over to the martial arts. If you are able to move and maneuver your body around with this type of strength, martial arts can only get easier.
    • For a day off or the day after a difficult workout, you can turn to yoga as a perfect complementary sport where it helps give you a good recovery session. This type of recovery, rather than just simply sitting on the couch watching Netflix is called active recovery. There are also many bonuses in the fact that it works on your flexibility, which helps you stretching the next day and is essential for injury prevention in general.
    • Yoga also does wonders for your body. Performing yoga, whether on your own or in a class, it doesn’t matter, improves balance and boosts the strength of your core. This can help you in any sport but is very important in the martial arts. A strong core goes hand in hand with balance and balance goes hand in hand with standing up straight while you’re fighting.

     

    1. Running

     
    running
     
    In any fighting movie ever made, you will always see the main character at one point running for training. Running is great for any sport because of the endurance you develop and the good conditioning it gives you. Conditioning isn’t just meant to be for your hair. Conditioning is when you train to develop endurance that will help you last the entire time of the match or game, or competition.
     
    What’s the connection:
     

    • Although there isn’t much relation between the two sports, you can definitely say they complement each other nicely because what your body does while running can easily help you when performing martial arts. In general, running is always used in a basic training-like setting but can also be used when not in training, in the off-season to keep yourself in shape for when you’re going to start fighting again.
    • Running is a good resource for developing quality cardio and is a fantastically simple, yet powerful option as an aerobic exercise. The great thing about running is its versatility. You can either run short distance or long distance. Your goal can either be to turn to long distance for development of your long-term endurance which can easily transfer over to the martial arts or it can be for short-distance — sprints or interval training — where you can turn short bursts of speed into a perfectly improving your combat situation.

     
    In conclusion, turning to other sports to complement your training in martial arts is not only a break on the mind and possibly on the body as its trained for the same thing. It gives a chance for you to break through the plateau you’ve reached physically or mentally (or both), and still work on attributes that you need in your martial arts training.
     
    In general, these complementary sports are not the only ones out there that best pair with the martial arts, but they are our top ten that have been shown to have the basics that help you in your martial arts training, as well. If you feel like none of these sports really interest you, you can definitely try other ones— the important goal here is just to keep your body moving!
     
    If you are looking for a sport on your own, look for one that specializes and has endurance work like cardio, and also has you focusing on balance and hand-eye coordination. You can try roller blading, tennis, even ping pong, as hobbies or sports to help you in your martial arts training. However, this is the list that we’ve made that you can refer to.
     
    We hope that this has helped you choose and guided you through the various sports out there in hopes that it can point you in the right direction when choosing a complementary sport.

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