cross training: Unicycle and martial arts

I have been thinking of picking up a complimentary sport to unicycling. I used to fence, which is good for leg strength, but the club meets after my bed-time… :roll_eyes:

SO, I was thinking an Eastern martial art might be good. I’m certain some of you do both. What is your experience, do they compliment eachother? I know balance is key in both.

I know little about the martial arts, so your thoughts are welcome. Which ones would compliment unicycling the most?

I hold a brown and green belt in 2 slightly different styles of Karate (kyokushin and budokai) and have dabbled in Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. I’m a little older than you, so I can speak with authority when I say the linear style of japanese karate takes a toll on the body! I would highly recommend Aikido, if you can find a place that offers it. It is considered a ‘softer’ style of martial art, where the emphasis is on circular motions, getting out of the way, redirecting your opponent’s momentum…in short, it’s all about BALANCE. It also teaches you how to fall gently, which is a handy skill to have. (Personally, I’ve had to defend myself against gravity more often than against muggers!) Whatever you choose, go watch a few classes first to see if the personality of the school suits you. Good luck and enjoy!

yup. martial arts are good cross-training. I take Tang Soo Do,a korean style, and its done me good in my balance. Real fun, too.

aïkido and “wado-ryu” karate share the same emphasis on circular motion + aïkido is good for falls! ( a pity I can’t practice any more due to acute problems of orthostatic -I nearly pass out when standing-up too quickly :frowning: )

While martial arts helps one to develop a sense of balance while on two feet, unicycle riding demands a different method of balancing. Personally, I found martial arts has helped me to protect myself in a fall / UPD. I studied Aikido for just over a year and in the process developed an ability to fall softly, to roll out of hard falls. This ability comes free with your training, as falling is often the first lesson that you’ll develop as an Aikidoka.

As the above poster noted, Aikido is an excellent art for all ages, sizes and shapes. It is a soft art, one that does not emphasize any kind of kicking or striking. Rather it focuses on leverage and balance to overcome all types of attacks: strikes, chokes, holds, shoves, etc. I have found Aikido practice to be very relaxing and enjoyable, and although it can be a workout at times, you can always moderate your training to suit your mood.

Arts that would provide similar training (learning to fall) include Hapkido, Judo and Jiu-Jutsu. Let us know what you’re up to when you start your cross-training!

Just a thought - I started to uni in part as cross training for whitewater paddling. The two really compliment each other. If you get a chance to try some river canoeing or kayaking, give it a shot.

Actually I build and paddle racing sea kayaks. I can roll only one way though.

That’s an interesting thought. Maybe I can talk some of my WW kayaking buddies into learning to uni on that principle!

Well, I have a black belt in a sort of weak form of Taekwondo, and I think it might have helped me uni. It’s a different type of balance, though, and I don’t think it would help in much other than muscle strength, which is plenty important.

My son, Owen, and I have both spent considerable time studying Aikido. I recommend it highly. Not only does it teach you how to roll and fall, there is an emphasis on “Center” which is a very useful and powerful concept having to do with awareness of one’s center-of-mass, and correct application thereof. Here is a site where you can find out more information, and locate a Dojo near Calcareous Fen, wherever that is.

I can recommend Taiji (Tai Chi) which basically is a martial art. It gives the performer good health and good balance (in every sense). The physical basics of Taiji is to move your body weight frome one leg to the other throughout a form (kata) consisting of 108 movements (there are shorter forms as well). The movements are connected to your breathing. After some time the training will improve your ability to concentrate on the things you are doing … like unicycling for instance.

I just got my black belt in Seido Karate, I would highly recommend it if there’s a dojo near you, it can be as soft as you want and focusses on all aspects of your body (mind etc). I have been doing Sedio for 8 years and karate for 11 (I used to do Shaolin-Ryukyu Kempo karate) and I would really recommend taking up a martial art to help your unicycling. It helps with general balance, coordination, whole body strength and also helps you develop more patience, which is always good for unicycling :stuck_out_tongue:
I think its a great idea to take up a martial art to help you unicycling, good on you.

Wow, thanks everybody! I have to seriously look into some of these types. I know there is a good Tai Chi group in the area, the Aikido sounds very appropriate, too!

I’ll let you know what I end up doing and how it’s going.
Thanks :slight_smile:

well if u dont fear to die… do some ju ji tsu sounds fun to me

I practice Tai Chi, and it certainly helps with balance, focus, strength, and you can learn it and practice right at home. I also study some “hard fist” arts, mainly Jeet Kung Do (not sure if that’s spelled correctly).

I was thinking strongly about studying Aikido, but it is not offered where I live.

no… you won’t die doing ju ji tsu.
you CAN die doing NIN jitsu. which i also (unofficially) practice. Sorta.

Do you know of any books that you can learn Tai Chi from? All the ones I’ve seen and be summarized with "Tai Chi is very good for you and you should learn it, come to my class” without having any real substance about HOW.


I’d suggest going to your local library and checking out any VHS tapes or DVDs they might have on the subject. If you decide you like a particular one, you can probably purchase it online at or someplace similar…


it isn’t really cross training i guess but the answer is pushups. I guess it doesn’t help ballance but for hopping higher, farther and more accurate pushups are the way to go. 150 a day, in reps of 25, and within ten days you’ll already see a pretty huge difference in your riding skills. That’s what i’ve bin doing, it’s crappy weather so i can’t ride much lately but i already noticed a pretty huge difference in my stomach muscles and everywhere else. probably have a sixpack by the end of dec or sooner. pushups are the way to go, that and pullups.

Progress and unanticipated social dilemmas

Well, folks, I can see that there are a lot of good ideas out there!

I went to tai chi last night for the first time and liked it, I can really see how it will help my freestyle riding. Problem is my ex-ish boyfriend goes to that same group and this newish guy on the horizon mentioned that he also wants to do tai chi again (he used to do it, too). It’s either give up tai chi, men, or experience some either painful or comic dynamics between three people who aren’t very lucky in love!

I’m thinking of joining Aikido and just not telling anyone…:wink:

Mike Foote:
Push ups, eh? I can only do 20, and once… then I need to have tea and knit for a while before I strain myself again. I can do sit ups until the cows come home, though. I have been bench pressing to build upper body strength, so I should be doing more pushups soon. I have trouble with my right wrist cracking and popping when I do push ups, so I am thinking of making some kind of inclined block to put that hand on so the wrist isn’t so bent.

i used to take karate. once at a competition i did a kata while riding my unicycle and i won (it was a dress up compitition so i went as a clown) i was the first white belt to win a kata contest there.