5 Ways To Start Training Martial Arts
Martial arts training is so good for your mind, body, and spirit.
This is why I encourage *everyone* to try a martial arts practice. It doesn’t matter what it is, any and all of it can provide you with an enormous amount of empowerment.
As I’ve gotten deeper into my own boxing training, I have had numerous people ask me for training tips, advice, or guidance on how to get started. Since this information is clearly in demand, I thought I’d put together a piece for any and everyone to be able to learn from.
I am by no means an expert (yet) in martial arts training, but I certainly have a good amount of experience under my belt doing various kinds of training that are diverse in intensity, frequency, cost, location, and instructor. I hope you get the motivation or help you need from this post to start kicking some ass yourself.
1. Find a Place to Train
This might seem like a “no duh” step in the process of training, but that’s because it’s the most important one! Plus, it’s not always obvious or apparent where to gain experience. In fact, I have found this to be the most common question I’ve gotten from newcomers, since trying to find the right gym can be overwhelming.
First, choose your goal. Are you looking to try out different forms of martial arts? Work in a specific discipline like boxing or jiu-jitsu? Do you want to gain skill, learn self-defense, or are you looking to potentially compete? Answering these questions will help you to gain clarity on your trajectory, as you should only seek out training that is going to satisfy your goals.
Next, you want to factor in your resources. How much money can you allocate towards training expenses? How much time are you willing to put in? When are you available to be in the gym? How much or little of a commute are you willing to make? You want to find a training facility that meets your needs and compliments your life, or else sticking to it is going to become an impossibility, regardless of your work ethic or desire.
After you’ve figured out all of those aspects, do your research. You can really approach this in any way that makes sense to you, weather that’s getting a personal referral, trying out classes, or using good ol’ Google to find facilities that meet all of your needs.
2. Pick a Good Coach
Having a mentor is essential to learning any kind of new discipline. In martial arts, having the right instructor can often be the difference between failure and success, so you want to be very selective about who you work with.
Now, unless you are doing private training sessions, you may not have much if any control about who you are working under- but that’s why you need to consider this factor as you look for gyms. Finding an environment that has instructors that you click with will absotuley make or break your training regime.
You also want to make sure you train with someone who knows what they are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask them what credentials they have or research their background. Working with someone who has competed or trained at a high level is important, since you want to learn from those who have a great deal of knowledge and experience.
Especially if you are more serious about your training and wanting to work with someone one-on-one for a long-term basis, it’s a process not dissimilar to dating. All of the puzzle pieces can fit on paper, but the chemistry not be there. You’ve got to jive with your coach- this is someone you’re going to be around constantly for a long time. You should feel comfortable around them and like you work well together. Don’t elect to work with someone who you don’t genuinely like!
3. Work Hard and then Work Hard Some More
Martial arts is grinding- there is nothing glamorous about fighting or training.
Those who really grow and gain skill in their discipline are those who put their nose to the grindstone. If you are afraid of hustling and long hours, you should run in the other direction.
It takes a lot of work to fight, or even to train to fight. You not only have to learn the technical aspects of the game, but also work to be in decent shape enough to even keep up with the high level of cardio that is required to constantly drill technique.
You are going to get tired. You are going to feel like you want to quit. Your limits will be tested. You have to train to be strong enough mentally to overcome these roadblocks, to keep fighting.
4. Create a Regime
Even if you’re not working with a coach personally or wanting to fight, it’s still important to have a routine that you can use to keep yourself on track. Otherwise, that temptation to quit or give up will probably be easy to slip right into (trust me, I’ve been there!).
Once you determine in what capacity you’re going to train, set a schedule for yourself. Decide how many days per week you’ll devote to training, what those sessions will entail, when you’ll do them, and how you’ll hold yourself accountable. For example, you might decide to train 5 days a week for a total of 7 sessions, which will include 2 classes per week, 2 runs, 1 yoga class, and 2 strength training sessions. You may do one of these sessions each weekday morning and your actual classes on Monday and Thursday evening. Just like that, you have a regime you can hold yourself too and not have to worry about how you’re going to get your training in.
I recommend giving yourself rewards for your efforts- going off of the aforementioned example, maybe you’ll let yourself do something fun on the nights after your 2-a-days. Or, perhaps you’ll go for ice cream after class, or purchase some new training gear if you stick to your intentions. This way, you’ll have something to focus on achieving when it gets tough.
5. Give 100% All Day E’veryday
Giving your all is crucial to improving in your practice and getting better- but this doesn’t just translate into your training. It’s also of the utmost importance that you’re putting in as much effort as possible into all aspects of your life.
Think about it- if you’re not eating well, resting enough, performing at your job, putting time into your relationships, or taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to give all of your focus to training, when you’re there. Instead, your mind will be on your latest family drama, the report you need to finish, or how all of the junk food you ate the past weekend is making you feel sluggish.
Martial arts has no shortcuts- you’ve got to be willing to give it your all at all times. There’s no such thing as cheating in life- when you cheat, the only person who loses is you. Martial arts forces you to confront this reality.
The bottom line? Be focused and intentional. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Be willing to try new things. And although it’s cheesy- have fun! Martial arts training should be enjoyable, so don’t forget to always look for the joy and victories in every moment. If it’s not fun…don’t do it!