I am often asked what the toughest part of martial arts training is. Honestly the actual training is not the hardest part at all. The hardest part of training is showing up to class day after day. In other words: consistency. Martial Arts training brings small benefits with each class. However, being able to do hard training with regular consistency results in real progress.
Putting in the time
A large part of martial arts training involves spending time refining and improving your techniques with consistency. For whatever reason (training for your next grading, self-protection, getting fit, losing weight etc).
With martial arts, you do not have to put in long crazy sessions all of the time. Sometimes, getting back to the basics is what can help you improve. This can include ensuring you come back to hands up stance after each technique, staying relaxed and slowing down the moves so you can concentrate on the mechanics. This is not exciting stuff, but a lot of the value lies in being engaged in each session. You must learn to embrace the process.
Every martial artist has days where it is hard to get out the door for their next class. The trick for this is to build a training schedule, stay disciplined and this will develop consistency in your training.
Plan your training around your lifestyle
If you know that Tuesdays are filled with meetings and obligations, build your schedule around an easier or rest day on Tuesdays. By building the training schedule around your unique personality and schedule, it will enable you to stay focused and have consistency. It will be much more enjoyable too. In saying that, martial arts can be a fantastic stress relief tool and take your mind off a crazy day. Discipline kicks in when you go to training on those challenging days.
Life happens, so roll with the punches and get back on the plan. Make up the skipped classes by attending on another day. Do the work! And do not over-think. Beginner martial artists over think everything. When people over think, they lose focus on the truly important things: consistency, patience and the long-term approach to development.
Really hard for some people in this fast results orientated world. In my opinion this is the main reason why some students become great martial artists and why some people dabble in and out of martial arts schools and quit within their first 6-12 months. Just enough time for the initial excitement to wear off and the realization kicks in that you need consistency, effort and discipline to succeed in martial arts. Wait a minute! That’s the same as in life as well.
Rather than over thinking, focus your energy on trusting the classes and instructors, being patient and knowing that consistency pays off. Your breakthrough performances on grading days or just real skill development will reflect the months of consistency and hard work in your training.
Tips to develop training consistency:
- Find training partners who can hold you accountable, make good company and can make hard sessions fun.
- Consider practicing for 15 minutes in the morning before a hectic day forces you to miss a night class.
- Get your family involved so they can help motivate you to attend class. In fact, get your family members and friends doing the martial arts training with you.
- Commit to a training goal (e.g. the next grading), write down this goal and map out a training plan. Speak to your instructors for guidance. By having a concrete goal to work toward, when the training gets tough, you will know what your focus is and be more motivated to stick to the plan.
Having consistency in Martial Arts training is paramount to your success in the kwoon and in your life! How important is it to be able to hit your target if you really need to protect yourself? How important is it to be able to execute a technique correctly? Practicing with consistency allows us to strike where we intend to and use our techniques as how they’re meant to be used.
Without consistency, there is only a small chance we will be successful. When you train, focus on hitting the same spot every single time, focus on using your 45 degrees and focus on making sure you land in the correct position each time you put your foot down. When you are practicing in a controlled environment, your technique should be great due to relaxation and focus. This will help ensure that if you have to use your martial arts in a real threat situation you will be more likely to succeed and make yourself safe.
Now that you have consistency in the kwoon, how can we apply this to your daily lives? Use consistency in your daily routines! The more consistent you are, the easier it gets and the more you do it without thinking about it. You will find you naturally choose to eat healthy, wake up early to exercise, skip that junk meal, drink more water or whatever healthy habit you have chosen. Consistency is key! Consistency builds the autonomous habit.
Just like learning any skill, first you struggle, then it becomes easier until you become competent, then you don’t think about it as you perform the technique. This is why people stop their new fitness regimes and do not realise their martial arts potential. It’s not that they don’t want to do it, it’s the lack of consistency that prevents them from reaching their goals. Here at the Ontario Self Defence Centre and Whitby Martial Arts Academy we try to get consistency into our students training so they are motivated to come regularly and it then becomes part of their lifestyle.