Every year, I participate in a martial arts tournament that takes place in an air-conditioned grand ballroom of a hotel. The way the tournament works is that people are split into several divisions (by age, skill level, style, sex, etc.) which are held throughout the day. There number of people in a division can vary, and the scheduling (though continuous) can be fragmented for an individual participant.

What my problem is that when I participate in these competitions, I am usually not warmed up enough to the point where I am most physically capable (something I feel in terms of flexibility). The number of participants in the divisions I participate in can reach upwards of 20 people (at least) while the actual martial demonstration might span anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Because of the enormous amounts of waiting involved in this tournament and the cooling air temperature in the hotel, my body is terribly stiff for every performance I do and not as good as it could be. Though I can warm up my body before starting the competition, it is not so easy to simply walk away in the middle of a division (unless you're doing multiple divisions that conflict and are running back and forth). Everyone typically stays in place until it is over.

Given the fragmentation of the physical expenditures and the air temperature around me, are there exercises that will help me in this situation? What effect will the intensity and duration of such exercises have on keeping my core temperature warm?

For reference, what I wear is a silk suit which is not the most breathable fabric. It's very thin and light. In addition to warm-ups, will athletic clothing help in any way?

  • Wear a bath robe like Rocky does? ;-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 11, 2012 at 14:09
  • How about just some burpees or a similar full-body exercise to warm up?
    – VPeric
    Apr 12, 2012 at 0:20

3 Answers 3


The methods that have worked for me are:

  • A thorough morning warm-up just after I wake up the day of the tournament. This consists of rotating all my joints about 10 times, followed by a 5 minute jog or similar, and finishing with 3 sets of 10 leg swings in each direction (forward, backward, sideward) and arm swings similarly (forward and backward). This is straight Tom Kurz material, designed to maximize your flexibility throughout the day regardless of warm-up.
  • Repeating that exercise as close to immediately before my first match as possible. Timing this is irreducibly hard.
  • Wearing a hoodie and socks over or under my gi while waiting, just to keep my body temperature up.
  • Getting my heart rate back up before each match. This has the same timing issues as before. This is much less thorough: a minute of jumping, jogging in place, and shadowboxing is plenty. In a well-run tournament, the "on deck" warning is the perfect amount of time.

I've had similar issues, and it's a struggle to balance on the line between competing cold and getting exhausted from training warm.

What's worked for me is:

  • Warm up once when I arrive, hitting an anaerobic threshold. I want to feel burning in all my key muscle areas, and be winded. Then I stop immediately.

  • I try to time getting "re-warmed" 10 minutes before the match. Here I don't want to go too crazy, just warm and slightly sweating.

  • As soon as the match is over, I lie down to get my heart rate back down.

Good luck - it's very tough to balance!


I would recommend wearing spandex top/bottom combo (that blends in with the gi) to keep warm, I remember reading somewhere that spandex also helps keeping blood flowing through compression. Ideally you are training as you are competing - so, your training (as you near the competition) simulates the fighting/competition environment in regards to floor (hard/rubber), temp and even wait times. This way you are conditioning yourself mentally and physically to the same conditions you are competing under. Don't over stretch prior to your match/time, just move around and stay relaxed.

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