The Importance of Target Practice in Martial Arts

Hitting, kicking or blocking a real target is important. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? After more than a year of contact-free Shorinji Kempo training, we’re thrilled to be able to re-introduce an element of physical contact into our sessions – for several reasons. 

Following the official British Shorinji Kempo Federation (BSKF) guidance for returning to usual training practices, we’re now allowed to use pads in our sessions. Our outdoor classes now offer the chance to practice hitting and kicking a real, physical thing (as opposed to the air in front of our faces)!

Improving aim, speed and accuracy

Having a proper target to practice with is crucial across all forms of martial arts. There’s a big difference in the way a punch to the air feels compared to a pad (or person)… 

By using pads, we’re getting used to the feeling of hitting something and improving our accuracy, speed and aim – all three of which are crucial components when hoping to progress in Shorinji Kempo. 

On top of helping to improve technique, using pads in martial arts also helps to better engage the muscles being used. This improves the quality of the training (in terms of exercise) and helps to build the strength that is crucial for maintaining good form in other areas of practice. 

Hand-eye coordination can be something that we all struggle with from time to time and it’s actually something that correlates with our overall physical wellbeing. Regular pad training is thought to help increase hand-eye coordination skills, which eventually leads to faster reflexes, improved reaction times, and even improved overall physical coordination. 

Pad work: promoting COVID secure Shorinji Kempo practice 

Aside from being great for practice, the pads mean that we’re also able to continue to train safely. All pad work is carried out in bubbles of six, with masks worn for that portion of the session, and each member of the dojo is responsible for their own pad to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. We also offer wipes, disinfectant and hand sanitiser, as usual, to clean up at the start and end of each practice!

All other training, including warm-up, basics practice and cool-down is carried out socially distanced. Of course, there’s no obligation to take part in the pad work portion of the sessions if you’d rather wait until you’re more comfortable doing so! 

About Bristol Shorinji Kempo 

Shorinji Kempo is a Japanese martial art that teaches a complete range of self-defence techniques from punches and kicks to throws and locks, a form of shiatsu massage [seiho], seated meditation and philosophy. 

The Bristol Shorinji Kempo Dojo meets twice per week in Arnos Court Park, just off the Bath Road in South Bristol, on Tuesday at 6.30 pm and Saturday at 11 am. 

As well as in-person training, the group meets online on Thursday’s at 12.30 pm and Friday at 6 pm for fitness Kempo – a 30-minute class designed to move your body and work up a sweat. 

All new members are welcome, from white belts to black, and we always offer your first session completely free. Either book online or simply turn up!

We hope to see you soon, 

Bristol Shorinji Kempo 

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