The recipe for success is simple: show up. This is simplistic, since obviously you need to practice well, get feedback, work to improve yourself, etc. But step number one is to show up. Everything else flows from there. Consistency is key to martial arts progression. Students who come only intermittently are always just catching up and never improving or learning new material. Many students stop coming for one week, then a week becomes a month, then a month becomes a year, then a year becomes forever. How do you stop the long slide to leaving karate forever?
What leads to student absenteeism? Injuries are common culprits. When you’re injured, you shouldn’t be doing martial arts. However, depending on the injury and your rank, you can continue to come to class to observe and help teach, thus keeping your mind involved in karate. “Life” is a commonly cited explanation, which usually means work, kids, family, and all the other things which can occupy one’s time. Sometimes work is more demanding, or the family requires time and attention, or you feel your other hobbies are suffering. In these cases, reprioritizing temporarily is necessary for life harmony.
The problem comes in when momentum is lost. It feels so nice not to have to get up and go to class two or three times last week like usual. Maybe you’ll just take another week off to refresh. Then you start finding other ways to fill that ‘free’ time- hanging out with friends, increasing time in another hobby, or watching TV.
A month passes with no karate class attendance. Now there’s anxiety about coming back. What have you forgotten? Have your peers advanced beyond you? Has your fitness fallen off, and will you look ridiculous coming back to training? There are so many barriers once you have been off. It is essential to realize that all everyone wants from you is to show up and try your best. I have gone through so many ‘get fit then injure myself then get fit then injure’ cycles that I’ve lost track. But I know now that I CAN get back into class and train hard and recuperate lost gains. So can anyone else. Once a month passes, then excuses begin piling up, then a year passes, and suddenly karate is no longer a part of your life.
Time is never actually free- you make a decision with each hour of your day. Make the decision to show up.