The art of turning up.
The biggest challenge to getting good at martial arts, or anything come to think of it, is consistency. The art of turning up. The hardest part of that is getting your butt out of the chair or the sofa. It's no surprise to me that the busiest classes at UFS are usually the early classes. People don't get the chance to sit down, they come straight from work and come to a class. Hey, there are even energy drinks at the centre now if you're feeling a little tired! I've been teaching martial arts for over 24 years now and in that time I've seen really talented people, some really mediocre people and lots of people with a little talent. The same way I was when I began martial arts in 1981. What kept me going, took me to World Championship finals and competing in so many running races was the consistency. I'm a good trainer. I can be the laziest person you've met, but I'm also driven to train hard.
Making clear goals
This is even more true when I set myself a clear, defineable goal. In my 20's I ran marathons and many shorter races, even a short triathlon once. My martial arts continued alongside, but the races became my focus. From 1990 to 1996 I competed in stick-fighting tournaments winning a British title and couple of lesser titles and two world championship silver medals. In my 40's I discovered long distance walking and did the 3 Peaks and Hadrian's Wall; this was 5 of us doing the 86 miles (we did 2 extra when we got lost) in 3.5 days, compared to the average of 7. Early this year I rediscovered long distance running again. My longest training run was 18 miles and I ran a 16 mile cross country race in April. I'm planning on a marathon in 2012. The point is I need goals. I need something to aim for. I think the problem that many students have is they don't plan their goals.
Creating the desire
In the early days it's easy. Lots of enthusiasm and the first three belts are ripped through quite quickly. At Orange belt (the fourth grading) the material suddenly becomes far more complex and some people are put off by this. They came to 'do kickboxing'. I've never understood this mentality. It's like going to a restaurant and only wanting garlic mushrooms when there is so much more to try. A desire to want to learn is essential, as is the passion for improvement. In life far too many people settle, they do it in their martial arts training too. Too often the most talented don't have the work ethic of someone less talented - and guess who stays the longest? It's always the person with the best work ethic. The person willing to forego the frustration and tedium that happen in training sometimes. It's all about showing up. I included the video of Damian Walters because he demonstrates, so well, just how good you can be with regular, devoted training.
What you can learn from Mark Zuckerberg.
If you're sitting at home reading this and asking yourself why you haven't trained for sometime I can tell you why now. You make excuses. You tell yourself life gets in the way, the truth is training isn't that important to you. I'm not criticising, I'm just telling you the truth. If you want to get good, show up. If you want to improve, do more. If you want to be the best you can be, make it a priority. I recently watched 'The Social Network' - the movie about how Facebook came to be. It's a great movie, but what impressed me the most was Mark Zuckerbergs' work ethic. He worked his butt off to make Facebook the global phenomenon it is. He may have made some unscrupulous decisions, but he put the time in. Martial arts is the same. It's not about talent, it's not about who you know, it's all about who you are. Keep showing up and you're going to get better, there is no other way.