Why do some people succeed with their Martial Arts training while others never get anywhere?
Over the years of running our gym I’ve seen lots of different students coming through the doors. Many have gone on to be really skilled & some have been successful as competitors & fighters. Others have turned up trained regularly at first then dropped off after a while and are really no better at martial arts afterwards than they were before they started training.
What are the qualities that make the successful competitors improve so much while the other guys don’t get anywhere? Are they turning up for secret invite only training sessions? Are they taking some kind of new supplements that make them better than everyone else? Are they just genetic freaks who are physically gifted with superhuman strength, speed & ability to learn & use martial arts techniques?
The successful people had just the same access to the training sessions, classes & instruction as everybody else. They had the same amount of hours in the day as everyone else. The difference comes down to what the unsuccessful people didn’t do. I have seen many talented people come into the gym who would have gone on to be international competitors by now if they hadn’t done the following things to sabotage their own progress.
A – Lack of motivation & consistency.
As an adult its your job to motivate yourself to turn up to training so you can improve. At first everyone is excited about a new activity when they start doing it. The problem is that when the novelty wears off you need to be able to keep turning up & putting in the hard work. This isn’t a problem if you are just training for fun or recreation. However, if you have ambitions of one day becoming a black belt or a competitor you need to be able to force yourself to turn up to train even on the days when you don’t feel like it & it won’t be as much fun. This is the number one key to achieving success. When kids don’t feel like going to school they are forced to go by their parents & teachers. When you become an adult you are given a choice over what to do with your time however there are always consequences to the choices you make. I’ve never seen anyone improve who doesn’t turn up to train consistently.
B – Waste time working hard on the wrong things.
Spending too much time at Fitness First pumping weights in front of a mirror is really good if your only ambition in life is to take lots of pictures of yourself to put on Facebook. If you are serious about becoming a fighter or a skilled martial artist then its a waste of time. I’ve been doing this a long time & I would advise anyone who is serious about improving their skills to only do weight training or other types of conditioning if you are 100% certain that it won’t interfere with your skill development/ Martial arts/ fight training. People who devote a whole two or three days of their week to only lifting weights end up looking good but they don’t win fights.
C – Taking time off
Sometimes its just impossible to train due to life & work commitments, injury, needing to rest after a long period of training & competing. But even in those situations you have to weigh up the cost of taking time off against the benefits. Ask yourself, does this slight injury really justify taking three weeks off training & losing all the progress that I’ve made over the last nine months? wouldn’t it be better to just come along to class and do whatever I can so at least I can try to keep on improving? If a high school student decided to miss out on three weeks here and there very few months would you expect him to pass his exams at the end of the year?
D – Focusing on the wrong results & being too competitive.
Martial Arts training & fighting often looks like its just two idiots rolling around trying choke or punch each other. The truth is that its usually the smarter people who make more progress. If I turn up for my first ever Jiu-Jitsu class & manage to headlock one of the other guys I might be happy with the result & feel pretty pleased with myself. However, if after six months I am still trying to squeeze out that same headlock then, even if I can tap a few people out, I’ve pretty much wasted six months. Try to avoid relying on your natural attributes. If you are already naturally strong when you start training try not to rely on using strength when you are sparring. Try to use the techniques that you have spent all this time learning. Focus on working on your weaknesses. Winning & Losing in training means nothing, the only people who think it means anything are the same ones who will only ever be able to win in their own gym against their training partners.
E – Not listening to the coaches.
There is only one reason why we as coaches teach certain techniques & give advice to correct peoples movements & skills. It’s because we think what we are showing them will give them the best chance of winning in a fight. When we give advice such as ‘ keep your hands up’, ‘Don’t change stance’, ‘stop trying to bench press your opponent off mount’ its not because we are trying to withhold some secret advanced techniques that you’re not ready for. The real reason is that we want to avoid that awkward moment after you lose a match due to making a stupid mistake where we have to put our arm around you and give you the ‘don’t worry buddy, we’ll get them next time speech’. We want our fighters & competitors to dominate their opponents & win every single time they step on the mat or in the ring. Obviously this is going to be difficult to achieve but you have much more chance of success & improving your skills if you listen, try to understand & act on the advice given to you by the coaches