It’s simple, you have to train

Posted: November 16, 2015 in Articles, Training
Tags: , ,

If I could pick one training theme that has developed for me over the past several years it would be “the how of training”. I think this is because as I have gotten older (just past middle age now) and as I build a business, I have had to prioritize things more. Simply, I don’t have a lot of time to waste. This is a common thread with many workout programs these days as well. “How do I get fit, fast?”

You may have heard that there is no magic pill, but I would argue. Perhaps it’s not a pill, but it is a method, and though a good training method will get you the results you want, perhaps a LOT faster than via haphazard training, I would caution anyone to think that it is easier. In fact, having a focused, thoughtful training regimen is hard work. The reason to do it is the results, not the ease with which it can be accomplished.

If you don’t have a good teacher, it may take you a lifetime to figure out what this regimen is, and by then it’s too late. So here I want to offer some ideas on how we might train more efficiently, and get the results we want.

Train Every Day

This may sound impossible to some due to time constraints, but really, this daily training will depend upon your training goals. Yes if you want to get stronger you need to lift heavy things regularly. If you want to have better footwork, well, we walk a lot don’t we? Why wait to practice your footwork until you are in the Dojo wearing a GI? Practice while you are walking the dog, or when in a busy airport. Whatever your goals are, you need to put some thought into it and make it so that you can’t avoid training in those goals every day.

Have A Goal

Goals need to be specific and attainable. “I want to be better” doesn’t cut it. “I want to be able to front kick as high as my head” is a better example. Some goals are more complicated, such as wanting to improve your sparring. In the case where the overall goal is more multi-faceted you still need to find a way to break it down and find where your weaknesses are and either focus on strengthening those, or finding a strength that can counterbalance that weakness and make that your secret weapon. How do you find what your strengths and weakness are?

Have an Obstacle

This seems to be the topic most often overlooked. In order to know if what you are training in is helping or hurting you, you need to pressure test it. Many people study a martial art for years, decades even, without putting what they know to the test. You get better at the dance perhaps, with fellow dancers, but try that technique with someone from another school or style and see what happens. Why do we avoid testing what we know? The two reasons that I can come with are:

  1. Ego: You don’t want to know your weaknesses
  2. Peer pressure: For lack of better term you either don’t want to rock the dojo boat, or you don’t want find out that what your teacher has been training you in all along is just plain BS.

This doesn’t mean you have to enter yourself in a cage match (unless your goal is to fight in a cage) but it does mean that you need to:

  1. Drop your ego, at least enough to be willing to see your weaknesses
  2. Be responsible for your own training. Design your training to where you can create the obstacle or situation for that which you are training for.

I see many martial arts (including my own) where practitioners attack (create the training obstacle) in a way that no one would do it in real life. If you don’t create the attack in such a way that it mimics the attributes of reality, you are in fact training for fantasy. If you know that and are OK with it, fine, but if you think you are training to defend against any punch, but you don’t study with fast punches, or different types of punches, then you are fooling yourself, or if you are an instructor, you are fooling your students. This leads me to the last bit of advice,

Find a good partner

Your training partner will make or break you. You need to train with someone where both of you care if the other succeeds, is willing to push you, and who has the same training goals that you do. This is not easy. I was lucky enough early on to find a training partner who complimented me well. It’s up to you to find the best training buddies, and if for some reason you can’t, learn to better communicate your training needs to whomever you might be training with, otherwise they will assume that you are there for the same reasons they are.

Be here now

If you have done all of the above the task now is to pay attention and learn. You need to be honest with yourself. It’s better to train five minutes at full attention than it is to train for an hour absentmindedly.


My friend Jon Haas has developed a series of training books and videos that focus specifically on training smart in the martial arts. I highly recommend you check out his training information at:


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