Self-Discipline and Lost Momentum

Ask any experienced martial arts instructor and they will agree: “when a student loses momentum in their training, it can be very difficult for them to regain it.”

In the shadow of Covid-19, one of the hardest hit sectors of our economy has been gyms, dance studios, and of course martial arts schools. These businesses were severely restricted from offering the very person-to-person interaction which lies at the heart of what they provide. Shifting to online lessons was only a stopgap measure, never a long-term solution. Thus, while many students adapted to online training via YouTube and Zoom, and subsequently returned to class following the re-opening, others lost momentum and fell by the wayside.

Over my years as a teacher I’ve seen people miss a class or two on occasion, which is common, and return to training with no problems whatsoever. But when they miss a couple of weeks, let alone six or more, some might never get back into the routine and may ultimately end up dropping out. Granted, this is different from person to person, but it is strongly contingent upon their mindset.

Those who have trained in martial arts longer, have typically developed a stronger mindset than the average beginner. They are more self-disciplined, dedicated, focused, and mentally resilient from their martial arts training. When life events force them off track, they quickly get back on. They roll with the punches and never lose sight of the big picture.

It has been said that it takes only 30 days to change a habit or routine. This process can be challenging when you are trying to implement a new training regimen, increase your workouts, change an eating plan, or kick a bad habit. Unfortunately, it takes very little effort to lose a good habit, especially when the change only requires you to sit at home and binge watch Netflix or Hulu.

Early on during the shutdown, the mettle of many a martial arts student was tested and revealed.

Those with very little self-discipline or resolve were the first to drop out of training. You see, there are always excuses to take the easy path or to give up on a long-term goal. It can be a real struggle for some people! Sadly the ones who need self-discipline the most, are the ones who feel a sense of relief when life gives them an easy out.

Still, there are others with years of training under their belts who faced different challenges. Some might have reached plateaus in their training, or experienced turmoil in their personal lives. Already being “on the ropes,” to use boxing parlance, Covid-19 knocked them to the canvas.

In either case, the hard truth is that history always lauds those who persevere and society always admires those who don’t give up. Greatness is never achieved through surrender.

If reading that last paragraph stings, you may be at a crossroads in your life. Deep down you may have already given up, or at the very least have one foot out the door. Your choices are simple: a) Do Nothing; or b) Get Back in the Fight.

Personally, I hope you choose to get back in the fight, and to do so immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely you ever will. As I mentioned in The Empty Cup, I’ve never seen anyone who regretted sticking with their training. But I have seen many who, years later, really regretted having quit. The choice is yours…

Good luck!

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