Joelle's 5-Day Challenge for Day Of Ninja 2014

Editor’s Note: As mentioned by Joelle, there was supposed to be a 5-day challenge as a countdown to Day Of Ninja 2014. However, due to time constraints, it had to be cut off. Joelle decided instead to create her own challenge for the 5 days leading up to Day Of Ninja 2014 (5 December). Here’s her challenge and kickstart for her goals, which you can use as an example to share your progress!

I started training in Shindo Jinen-Ryu Karate six months and two days ago, so I’m just beginning my Martial Arts journey. Sometime in the last two weeks, I learned about Day of Ninja. When our host and some of us acquaintances were planning what to do, one of the ideas was to come up with 5-day courses to improve skills – the five days starting on December 1, 2014. Technical difficulties nixed that idea, but I’d already come up with and did my research for a Mini-Course for beginners like me who are having difficulty with stretching, pushups, situps, and aerobic endurance while sparring. I couldn’t afford not to start, so I did. I finished this morning. I am very pleased to report I have met all the goals I set for myself for December 1, 2014 through today (December 5, 2014).

5-Day Challenge Goals (with performance results)

Goal 1: Stretching

I have stretched every day from 1 December through 5 December (Day of Ninja 2014)

I was having trouble with consistently stretching after walking the dog. I needed to see if I really could do this every single day.

Day 1: The dog thinks stretch time is great because I usually have a hand free to pet him and I spend most of the time down on his level. While stretching, I noticed I need to do a bit of skin and nail care on my hands and feet. Care of our weapons is vital!

Day 3: Hit upon the idea of doing stretches in between sets of pushups and situps in order to streamline the workout. My dog thinks the time I spend on these exercises and stretches is some sort of game I made up for him. He sticks his snoot in my face and solicits attention by pawing at me. He keeps me entertained because let’s face it, this is kinda boring.

Day 4: I’m really glad I streamlined the workout. Real life would’ve really gotten in the way if I hadn’t.

Day 5: YAY! I stretched every day!

I usually do stretch before Karate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and usually Water Fitness class includes stretching. However, I feel like I do a more thorough job if I’m at home. That and Friday through Sunday I’m on my own because I don’t have fitness classes that incorporate stretching on those days, so it’s a good habit to keep up.

Goal 2: Pushups

I did five good (planked) consecutive pushups on Day of Ninja 2014

I started and followed the workout on

I could only do two pushups on my initial test – 1 December 2014. On Day of Ninja, I modified the workout slightly so that I’d do five pushups in the first set and four in the second set, not the other way around as specified on the chart. I not only did five consecutive pushups in the first step, I did more as specified in the chart – a total of 26!!!

Day 1: Pushups went better than I expected. There were times I had to finish on my knees, but I think I only did a total of four pushups on my knees.

Day 2: Rest day according to the website’s schedule. No pushups done in Karate class.

Day 3: Only the last pushup in the last set done on my knees, the rest were planked!

Day 4: Rest day according to the website’s schedule. No pushups done in Karate class

Day 5: Goal reached!

I not only did five consecutive pushups on Day of Ninja 2014, I did a total of 26!!!

I am halfway to ten! It feels great to have achieved more in five days than I have in six months. Obviously I was missing the concept of doing sets with rest periods in between.

Goal 3: Sit-ups

I did 25 consecutive situps on December 5, 2014 up from 16 on 1 December 2014

I followed the schedule found on

Day 1: I looked at the first column on my chart and thought it might be too easy, so I tested myself. I found I can do 16 situps, which is more than I thought I could do. So I modified the workout as outlined on the website to accommodate the 16 situps I’d already done. The dog was really wondering about me, so every time I came down, there was this little upside-down doggy snoot about an inch from my eyes. Evening – Water Fitness class includes quite a bit of core muscle workout.

Day 2: Rest day according to the website’s schedule. No situps or leg lifts done in Karate class.

Day 3: This schedule is working quite nicely! Water Fitness class included lots of abdominal muscle work.

Day 4: Rest day according to the website’s schedule. No situps or leg lifts done in Karate class.

Day 5: I didn’t do the situps as outlined in the website. Instead, I went for my goal during the first set. I did twenty five consecutive situps, then modified the next sets to accommodate what I’d already done.

I not only did 25 consecutive situps on Day of Ninja 2014, I did a total of 64!

I was pleased that initially I was able to do more situps than I thought. I’m glad I achieved measurable results – from 16 to 25 is a pretty good jump! It turns out that on 4 December I needed those abs – we did a few rounds of two-against-one sparring (loved it!) so I needed to be confident I could take a few love taps, LOL.

How I kickstarted Goal 1, 2 & 3

Simply declaring my goals publicly was a great start. The short time frame helped because if I took this small step maybe I can set bigger goals later.

Overcoming the obstacles for the first three goals

  • Phone, barking dog, sick kid, phone calls from school, errands

I pretty much just dealt with things as they came up. If I had to spread the workout over the course of the day, I did that. However, once I hit upon the idea of streamlining by going through sets of pushups and stretches, it took a lot less time to work through my goals. So days 3, 4, and 5 went very well – I was able to complete everything before breakfast and get on with my day.

Goal 4: Building Sparring Endurance

Build endurance for sparring by working up to “bouncing” in fighting stance for five minutes while throwing combinations of techniques at least every 30 seconds.

I started out “bouncing” for one minute on 1 December 2014 and added a minute every day until I was working for five minutes on Day of Ninja 2014. It didn’t feel right to wait 30 seconds to whale the tar out of my punching bag, so I threw my techniques when I felt like it. Consequently, I made it much harder for myself than originally planned. In retrospect, I probably should have added only 30 seconds each day. However, I did manage to reach my goal and “fight” for 5 minutes on December 5.

Day One: For the first time in days there’s no wind, so even though there’s still patches of snow and ice I went out to the garage to work with my punching bag. I was going to throw three techniques after thirty seconds, but once I got on my four squares of foam mats in my stocking feet, I decided just to do as many repetitions of three techniques as I felt like, bouncing in between each repetition. I found things to work on:

1) My face jabs were too powerful for what I’m working towards – I want to improve my sparring. I need to be able to control strikes to the face. I can hit with speed and power just fine, which is great for a street fight, but I need to work towards speed alone for face jabs in class, promotion, or tournament.

2) I’m too close to the bag. I need to back off a bit and rely a little more on lunging in.

3) I still have a tendency to carry tension in my shoulders and I even discovered tension in my pectoral muscles. This will help me not to huff and puff so much!

4) I need to get my hips into the techniques and work more on throwing them from the core.

Day 2: A bit of huffing and puffing, but went OK

Day 3: I’m starting to get the hang of slicing in and backing out quickly when punching the bag out in the garage. I have a little better idea of my reach and range of motion. For the first few seconds it felt strange to be bouncing around out in the garage in the dim, pre-dawn light. I reminded myself Ninjas work in the dark! At one point after throwing a kick, I felt something twang in my leg – it wasn’t serious but I noted it could happen in a real fight, so I adjusted until the ache subsided. No lasting effects – I suspect the kick was a bit sloppy. For some reason after some time had passed, I found myself thinking I couldn’t continue. I squashed that down and forced myself. I pretended my life depended on throwing three punches NOW! The timer went off just as I was whaling on that bag. I was ready to give up and I was almost done! The important part is I overcame the attitude.

Day 4: Bouncing and throwing technique in the garage was somewhat easier today. It occurred to me maybe it would be better to have added only 30 seconds per day. That said, I noticed a difference in Karate class tonight. We did multiple rounds of two-against-one sparring and my endurance was better than ever! We got little breaks between rounds, and I was always good to go after those brief rest periods.

Day 5: I’m very tired after last night’s Karate class where we did multiple rounds of two-against-one sparring. Bouncing and throwing techniques at the punching bag for five minutes this morning was very difficult. However, I pushed myself hard – after all, I had a goal to meet! I told myself that it’s possible I might find myself fighting for my life at a rest stop on the way home from Gasshuku (extended training over a weekend). I definitely should have added only thirty seconds per day.

I threw more techniques per minute than originally planned, and I went the whole five minutes with that punching bag! Also, sparring in karate class on Day 4 went better than ever!

Why and how is this goal important to me

This morning (Day of Ninja 2014) was a real test of my willpower. I wasn’t anticipating that. I got through it, and I want to remember that I can overcome discouragement! I also saw the need for daily practice with that punching bag. I need to work on my range and form. I learned I can endure the cold temperature in the garage quite well.

Obstacles faced and possible solutions

  • Pain from sloppy technique, overheating from winter clothing (yes, even in freezing cold garage), discouragement, hard to control breathing, phone, barking dog, sick kid, phone calls from school, errands

Spend some time on aerobic work but also spend some slower time developing better form.

Similar Posts