Too Much Karate? Avoiding Burnout

By Hali Serrian

Those of us who are training martial arts have—to a greater or lesser Karate Burnoutdegree—been bitten by the martial arts bug. For some of us, this means enthusiastically coming to class once a week and moving along at a nice steady pace toward rank goals. For others it might mean three classes a week.  For those at the more intensive end of the scale, this can mean 8+ hours of martial arts a week, in multiple styles, ranking in each style. Whatever your martial arts fever, given enough time you run the risk of becoming burnt out.  Here are some of the ways to recognize if you are becoming burned out and how to keep something you love from becoming something you grow to resent.

If someone is close to burning out, they might feel tired, apathetic, annoyed or uninterested in the activity. In the case of karate, you might be tired every time class rolls around, or you might not want to go. You might even be annoyed that you “have to” go to class.  You might be uninterested in your material. If one or all of these feelings are present, recognize that you might be on the verge of burnout.

In order to keep burnout from taking you out of martial arts, take the following steps:

  1. Take a step back: Remind yourself why you started martial arts in the first place. For fitness? For fun? To achieve black belt? Why are you here?  Repurpose your goals if they have changed over time.  Create new goals!
  1. Be honest with your goals and how hard you want to work. If you only want to commit to one class a week, that’s OK. It means you won’t advance as quickly through the ranks.  If you want to make excellent time moving up the ranks and you want to be an excellent teacher, then you have to come to at least two and probably three classes a week. Be prepared and know what your path means for your development.
  1. Talk to someone. Be it a higher rank, one of the instructors, or someone in your rank group, let somebody know that you’re not feeling as excited right now. Ask them for help, or just let them know to keep an eye out for you since you don’t want to drop off the map.
  1. Come to class, and have fun! Remember, you definitely enjoyed martial arts. Get back to that starting point. Simplify your reasons for being here, and everything else can sort itself out.


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