Progress in the Martial Arts

The goals of a good martial arts curriculum is progress. Regardless of the style you have chosen to study, all of them begin with the fundamentals and can take you to the level of mastery.  Success however depends on two things: commitment on your part and a skilled instructor who not only teaches you the art, but also challenges you. 

          To some, progression in the martial arts is about earning another belt or stripe. The space between these belts and stripes however is where the martial artist makes his real gains.  This is where all the hard work takes place. In addition to learning the new techniques required by your style’s curriculum, you will be tested physically and mentally. 

Increasing your fitness level will be challenging, as you push yourself to become faster, stronger and more agile.  You can learn thousands of techniques, but if you are not physically fit enough to execute them, they will be of little or no use.  This is why it’s important for a martial arts curriculum to include conditioning exercises.  Take them seriously because they’re part of the whole package. 

You have to discipline yourself to get to the dojo and train hard on nights when all you want to do is go home and lay on the couch.  You may want to eat healthier so you spend more time training and less time digesting! You will have to take all that your instructor has taught you and incorporate it into sparring or self-defense practice.  While you’ve learned many attacks and counterattacks, you may find that you only use a few. This is where you experiment with what really works.

Now it’s time for your instructor to do his part. A good instructor will push you beyond your comfort zone.  He knows that in order for you to go beyond where you are now, he’s going to have to make you work.  He’s going to have to mix up the physical training so your routine doesn’t get stale.  He may change up a workout that you’ve gotten used to. He may ask you to train with different classmates or to train alone.  He may ask you to work on your least favorite techniques or learn a really hard form. 

Don’t get upset if one day he walks into class and turns it all upside down.   His experience tells him that a stale routine stalls your progress.  The only way to get to the next level is to push past whatever is in your way.  Work diligently on what is asked of you.  The day of your test is merely icing on the cake.  All the work necessary to progress is done between the belts!

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