Applying Lessons Learned In The Dojo To The Gym

On October 9, 2014 by Physical Culturist

Many principles learned in martial arts can be applied to lifting as well. Gerry Magee explains how lessons learned in the dojo can be applied to the gym.

Written by: Gerry Magee

Strong Men Live Longer

Kuden: Aural instructions passed from teacher to students.

  1. Just Turn Up and Train.

    As obvious as it sounds this primary principle of Martial Arts training is all to often overlooked. In today’s age of internet experts and armchair warriors, many people spend too much time searching for answers before they begin actual training.

    We can read all there is to know about great squat technique but at some point we must actually try it. As Sensei Coyle of Makotokai Aikido so eloquently put it:

    “Turn up and shut up”.

    Our time is better served searching for answers through our training rather than continual questioning. Get off the sofa and get to training.


  2. Strive To Cultivate Your Beginner’s Mind.

    Approach each training session as if it was your first, meaning free your mind from any pre-conceptions regarding your training. By all means we must have training goals though we should simply concentrate on training and allow the rest to happen. Sometimes the harder we try the more difficult it becomes. Just turn up and train., go home and then start again tomorrow. Leave all the pointless arguments to the online ‘experts’, while they are on we’ll be in the gym lifting shit.

  3. True Mastery Of Any Art Is Mastery Of The Basics.

    Keep it simple. Our ultimate goal should be mastery of a handful of basic principles that can be applied to any situation. It’s as true in the gym as it is in the dojo, concentrate on mastering the principles associated with the ‘big’ lifts., like “keep the shoulders packed” or “Push the floor away”. These principles will carry over into all of our lifts.

  4. The Body Is One Piece.

    While there is room in any program for assistance exercises the bulk of our training should treat the body as one unit. In Aikido we’re taught that Ki (intention) Ken (technique) Tai (Body) Ich (are one) and as such our training should emphasise this. In strength training terms a deadlift for instance would certainly conform to this approach in training. Stick to whole body movements the majority of your training. Of course if a single leg medicine ball twists on a Bosu is your thing, so be it.


  5. Strip Away All That Is Not Needed.

    As a martial artist we must seek to remove all extraneous body movements, even thoughts, always striving for simplicity. Maximum efficiency with minimum effort, in the gym we can always strip back to only that which is truly needed, you know just lift the weight up and put it back down.

    As an aside this is also a fantastic principle to apply to any nutrition plan. If you don’t need it, just don’t eat it.

About The Author:
GM Fit aka Gerry Magee is a martial artist, musician and personal trainer. For a no-nonsense approach to strength training and diet, check out

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