Training and adult responsibilities

Training and adult responsibilities.

 

It is no secret that the more we train the more we will improve, assuming we are getting good training. 

We all love the martial arts that we practice. In a very short time it often becomes a part of who we are. Because of that we want to be the best we possibly can be and continue to get better. 

Often the solution to this is to train more. This is certainly valid and it will certainly lead to improvements of your craft. However, sometimes life responsibilities get in the way. As a child or teenager, even a young adult the level of responsibility you have is generally pretty low and the option to train more is very viable.

As we get older and have jobs, families, and other major life responsibilities the one thing we don’t have an abundance of is time. 

I think back to when I was in college in my early 20s. In those days I was vigorously studying three different styles of martial arts. I was practicing Kenpo, Judo, and Jiu-Jitsu, I even ran a small club a couple nights a week. In those days I trained every day of the week. I loved it, I would go from class to class and gym(dojo) to gym every day. It was like an addiction, I loved to train and learn, it was (and still is) part of my soul. I loved to teach because it made me better at my craft. I loved to compete in all the aforementioned styles I was practicing. 

 

What I didn’t have in that stage of my life was a whole lot of major responsibilities ( at the time I would have argued that, but in hindsight it was true). I had my schoolwork, the occasional odd job to pick up some extra cash, training, and a social life (my military commitment at the time was not too time taxing; a weekend here and there and a few weeks now and again). Those were some good days for sure. 

As it happens to all of us, life moves on and our responsibilities grow. Later in life, when I had a career and a family the ability to train seven days a week for multiple hours at a time was no longer possible. 

So as an adult with responsibilities who still wants to improve their craft, what options do we have?

We could neglect our responsibilities, but that really isn’t an option, that’s really not being an adult. That likely isn’t consistent with the principles of any martial arts.

 

So what other options do we have?

 

The first thing we have to do is become masters of time management. We need to learn to be efficient in everything that we do. That’s a great skill that will help you in your career, your family life, and provide you more opportunities to train in your craft (or do other things you want to do).

 

The next thing we need to look at is where we are wasting time. For example, how much time you spend watching mindless television? How much time do we spend on our phones, or on the computer doing things that aren’t value added for the time it takes? For a lot of people, you might find that by reducing or eliminating any of those things will afford you plenty of opportunity to train more. 

 

For some people that still won’t provide the opportunity to scratch the training itch that we all have so bad.

 

Another idea we could look at is, can we combine our training with our family time?Does your spouse or your children have an interest in training as well? That could be a great opportunity to do things as a family. Going to tournaments, clinics, seminars are all things you could do together that support whole family time and your improvement. Coupled with that, often our training partners are like a second family and we do things with them off the mat which includes our families. This relationship development is instrumental in your development. Through the whole family involvement, not just in training but in the social aspects, it helps keep your craft part of the collective family. This will help reduce the possibility of resentment due to the time you do spend training. 

 

So even with all the above ideas sometimes we just don’t have the time to add more training. Sometimes getting down to the gym once or twice a week is the best we can do. 

The best thing we can do for this is realize that our craft is a lifelong pursuit. And our only true competition when it comes to improvement, is ourselves. Sometimes this is hard for practitioners when they’re new to the craft. The temptation to measure our improvement against how well we match up against our classmates is hard to avoid. “Joey and I were pretty evenly matched a month ago but now he dominates what am I doing wrong”? This is a hard obstacle to overcome for a lot of people, however the sooner we can get over this, the less frustrations we will have an ultimately the more improvement we will make with the time we do we do have. Joey might be able to train four times a week and you might only get one or two times a week. You’re not doing anything wrong he just has more opportunities and that’s OK. You have to except that you progress at the pace that you progress. Some of your classmates will probably improve faster and some slower. You should strive to not let that make you frustrated. 

 

The next thing we should do is make sure we maximize the training time that we have. Although our martial arts training is as much social as it is physical. We shouldn’t waste time on the mat talking about things that are not directly related to the skills working on(do that after class). Even talking about those skills should be kept to a minimum because we should be doing repetitions of the actual skill. That isn’t to say you should ask questions, you certainly should. Asking questions for clarification will help you improve on the technique that you’re working on, but you still have to get those repetitions in. 

We should also strive at practice to ensure we execute deliberate practice. Your coach should drive this but not all coaches are created equal. It’s a good practice to have one or two things in mind each practice that you want to train on. For example in Jiu-Jitsu class, I try to have one or two things I want to practice from both the top and the bottom positions. When it comes time to free train I look to get as many live repetitions of those techniques as I possibly can. I typically try to pick ones from both top and bottom positions because inevitably you’re going to end up in one of those two positions. Depending on your skill level in relationship to your partner you may not be able to dictate the position you end up in. If you have techniques and mind from the top and the bottom the chances of being in a position to try them are greatly improved.

 

Some gyms use situational training or situational rolling which is a great way to force live repetition of a particular techniques this is a good way to have deliberate practice. As we said before not all coaches are the same. 

 

Another tool you can use to maximize your practice time is deliberate drilling. Maybe one of the classes you go to is an open mat. Now you could spend the whole time rolling which is a lot of fun it’s great exercise and you may or may not get to work on the technique she want to work on. If you have good training partners I have no doubt you could find one that would be willing to do some drilling for some part of the time. Maybe spend 1/3 or 1/2 of the open mat drilling in the rest of the time Live rolling. 

 

Next, we can always supplement our training off the mat analytically. Thinking about your techniques, visualization of scenarios, read books, watch videos ( if you have your old tournament videos, even better). Although this will never replace the sweat equity from the mat, it might help iron out some of the little technical problems you encounter. 
Hopefully this gave you some ideas and insights; bottom line, keep training when you can, manage your time, set your priorities, and enjoy the journey - no matter how fast or slow your going.



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