Training Routine: Dedication to a weekly training routine is the first step to progress in a martial art. Students need to make a point of setting aside time in their schedule for training. Two or three sessions per week is recommended for most students, and more for those who are preparing to compete. As with anything else, the more time you dedicate to training, the faster your progress will be. Planning for, and staying up to date with tuition is also an important aspect of sticking to a training routine.
Common pitfalls that can sabotage a training routine include: a lack of self-discipline or ambition, poor time management, an inability to keep focus on goals, poor diet or substance abuse, and unsupportive friends or family members. Poor management or inappropriate dealings with tuition can also sabotage your progress.
The Art: Commitment to your chosen martial art is essential to reaching your goals in that art. Learning the techniques and strategies of a combative art is not only the key to individual progress, but also to preserving that art for future generations of students. Some strategies can be difficult to understand at first and students may struggle with their importance at first. But, generally, every detail given to the student has meaning and purpose based on decades or centuries of development. Sometimes adjustments will be made to certain strategies to make them more effective or efficient, but these should be left to the most experienced practitioners in the gym.
Some students may have a “selective participation” approach to their training. This means that they’re willing to do certain parts of the training, but not others. They may want to add their own personal preferences to strategies, or jump ahead of their level. But, this Selective Participation can also sabotage individual progress, and create an atmosphere of confusion and dysfunction in the gym. Many principles and strategies depend on one another to work the best. So, to selectively choose to only do portions of an art will severely limit the student’s potential and interfere with others’, too.
Gym Rules: Most martial arts gyms or Dojos will strike a balance between realism and risks in training. So it’s important to establish safety guidelines and rules that everyone must follow to minimize risks. Some of the rules in the gym have to do with a rank structure and etiquette for training. These are important to insure productive communication between everyone, and effective teaching and learning in the Dojo.
Ways that these essential aspects of the Dojo can fail usually involve students ignoring or choosing not to follow the rules. Some people may tend to have a rebellious attitude toward the structure in the gym. They may think “I’m different, the rules don’t really apply to me” or “rules were meant to be broken” or “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” This thinking and approach will result in a delay in progress, alienation from the training group, and warnings that can lead to ejection from the gym.
Training Partners and Coaches: Dedication, trust and loyalty are the cornerstones of healthy relationships and training in a martial arts gym. It is almost impossible to learn a martial art without trusted partners, and knowledgeable instructors. Drills and sparring with dojo-mates are the best way to learn essential elements like realistic timing, distancing, fluidity and self-control. Having qualified instructors who can share their knowledge, and guide you through the minefield of learning is invaluable. Every other person in the gym should be treated with respect and courtesy, because we all depend on one another to progress in our martial arts experiences.
There are several ways that your martial arts journey can be sidetracked or ruined because of weakness or failure in this aspect of training. One is to fall into a “tribal” or clique mentality about the people within the gym. Students should avoid gravitating into a small circle of friends that tend to alienate others, and treat every training partner fairly and equally in the Dojo. Another failure is to fall into a rivalry with another student or instructor. Being antagonistic towards others in the Dojo can contribute to an uncomfortable and dangerous training environment that can affect the whole training group. Students should also avoid causing “drama” in the gym that will cause distractions and dysfunction. Lastly, students should be careful about dating, “hitting on”, or harassing training partners. Any student who cannot seem to be respectful and appreciate their training partners and instructors will be asked to leave the Dojo.
So, being committed to martial arts training and goals in these ways are actually simple once you decide that you will do what’s required to make it all happen. Once a routine is established, stay on track and avoid the common distractions that will sabotage your progress. With a little commitment to training, loyalty to gym-mates, and focus on goals, we can all achieve great things in the martial arts together.