This article will help you to plan your goals as a martial artist and show you how you can achieve those goals. I titled this article ‘ How to be a top martial artist’ but what I mean by this is how to be at the top of your game!
Many people start the martial arts with a few clear goals but leave without ever achieving them. The world is full of people who have ‘grades’ in martial arts but gave up on their journey to the coveted black belt. Why would they just ‘give up’, what made them lose their way?
There is a range of reasons why people ‘just up’ and leave martial arts training, and very often you will see them floating in and out for years, trying martial art after martial art. I think we all know people like this. But how can this be changed? How can we get more students through to black belts without reducing the standards?
If you are reading this as a student of the martial arts you may also be thinking about leaving your training. So how can we stop this?
The answer is all to do with goal setting.
What is a Tangible Goal in Martial Arts?
When you start martial arts you need to understand that there are some tangible goals and also intangible ones. If you understand the difference, this will lead you to far higher success over the next three years.
A tangible goal is something like a grading result, perhaps getting to blue belt or passing your next grading. Another tangible goal is to lose weight or increase your fitness. You can see these results because they are real. You can see the achievements.
The intangible goals cannot be seen by others, they are an experiences, a feeling and even sensations you might feel. It could be the sensation of ‘being part of something’ or perhaps the feeling that you get when you went to a session without getting tapped out, or how it feels to hit the pads far harder than you used to.
So as you set off on your journey you need to keep track of your progress and these goals and to do this do not only use a training diary (as we discussed in the last article), instead you need to create a training contract.
Creating a Training Contract
You do not need to make a training contract a big deal. What I mean by this is you do not need to tell the world about your contract, your friends or even your other half. This contract is between you and your inner yourself, however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend time doing this.
So here is what you need to do, go out and get a piece of paper. My personal suggestion is that you need to get a nice quality one and get a ruler and some pens.
Next step is to write down your goals and here is how you should do this:
1. Be realistic as to where you are right now
This is pretty much an honesty check. There is no point saying that you plan on winning a world title next year if you have only been to 3 sessions. You need to assess where you are, and if you aren’t sure ask your instructor for an honest opinion.
Yes, this might hurt your ego a little bit but everyone thinks they are a little better than they actually are.
2. Set SMART goals
By SMART I mean Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
Now notice that you can make all your goals fit the above, even the intangible ones. You really need to nail down your goal, and when you want to achieve it by.
3. Plan Out How You Are Going to Reach Your Goals
If you want to feel part of something, or be part of a community then you need to go to club events. Make sure you get to the club BBQ or grading or in really simple terms make sure your face is on the Facebook photos, then you will be able to show you are part of something!
If you want to last a class without getting tapped out then you will need to work on your defenses.
If you want to lose weight you will need to train harder, eat better and make sure you weigh yourself.
If you want to be a world class martial artist then you will need to surround yourself with world class martial artists!
This is your contract, and you need to plan out for yourself how you will achieve your goals.
4. Set Progress Markers
Do you want to be a National Champion in 3 years? Then you need to be winning the regional events in year 2. If you want to lose 80 pounds of fat for Christmas then you need to say what you need to weigh in September.
You don’t run 26 miles in a marathon, you run a mile 26 times!!
Set your progress markers and you will be able to stay on track.
5. Write out Your Training Contract
On a regular and boring Sunday, take out your pens and get writing. In Huge letters at the top write;
and then under it write your goal or goals;
“I want to be a black belt in 3 years”
Next write what you are going to do to get there:
” I will be going to every class and workshop each month and have one private lesson each month”
Then Write out your Progress Markers
” Year 1 I will be defender level, year 2 fighter, black belt year 3″
Now finally this is the part when you will have to take your time.
Write the words, ‘my commitment’:
Write out a calendar underneath so you can cross out every time you went to training, make it big enough to add a one line note underneath. Each year you will create a new calendar and stick it over this one. It is an easy to see visual record of how much work you do towards your goals,
The final act is to stick it where you will see it everyday. I used my wardrobe door for years for my training contract.
How Do I know This Works?
I can tell you this works because I have used training contracts for 20 years in every aspect of my life and rarely did I fail to hit my goals. I used them for my boxing career and my Judo training contract got me to black belt.
A training diary is a detailed look at your training, a contract is a road map to getting to your goals, no matter what those goals are.
98% of martial artists will not use a training contract because it is a way to hold yourself to something, and make yourself accountable for your failure or success.
Ultimately it is yourself that will decide if you reach your goals as a martial artist but having them written down and a plan to get to those goals will certainly help you focus and that is what will make your dreams come true- FOCUS!
Now you have a choice. You can ignore training contracts, you can just go to class each week and have fun and then in 4 years time you will look at why you aren’t really much better than you were after year 1. Or you can be serious about your hobby or sport and focus your mind and get the most out of your training.
article by UFC fighters Barry Gibson
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