Sifu Rebecca Knapp

Adult Student’s Corner

What do you do when you feel like training has become mundane, or it’s a time of year when it’s easy to let go of training in lieu of….the beach, the cottage, Christmas holidays, or anything else that can distracts us from our Kung Fu journeys? It’s natural for our motivation to ebb and flow over our Martial Arts lives, but there are some things you can do to stay focused and inspired.

The reality of learning any new skill is that it’s only a little bit exciting and whole lot of hard work. Once the new and exciting part of being shown a new technique has passed, we end up in “the grind” – the massive amount of work and repetition to make that technique a natural and precise response.

The key is intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation means that we do a task to get something in return – the reward comes from outside of us. Intrinsic motivation means you do it for the sake of doing it – the satisfaction of accomplishing the task – the reward comes from inside of us.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Set Goals – The objective of setting a goal is to keep you focused and help you enjoy the grind, because you are working towards something that will make the grind feel more purposeful and worthwhile. A short-term goal might be: “I’m going to improve my side kick by the end of the month” or “I will learn the Tiger Form by the end of the summer”. A longer-term goal might be being ready to grade. Something like “I will be the best fighter” is vague and doesn’t provide you with a roadmap of any kind…and is also based on an extrinsic motivation.
  2. Visualize – Remind yourself WHY you are doing what you are doing, and WHY you decided to take Kung Fu in the first place. Think about what success looks like to you and visualize yourself being successful over and over until it’s the only vision in your brain. Remind yourself how much hard work it takes to reach a goal.
  3. Mental Triggers – this is something that reminds you what your fighting for, what is driving you towards your goal. It can be a word, a sound, a visual, a mantra. Anything that keeps you focused on the outcome.
  4. Associations – mentally associate the toughest parts of training with positive outcomes, so you remind yourself that the more you endure, the more benefit you will realize from your perseverance. Also connect yourself with other Kung Fu warriors who are highly, and intrinsically motivated to train. Training with like-minded people can have tremendous positive impacts of your progress.

The grind is there, and it serves a purpose. You can’t hate it or it will drive you out of Martial Arts. You can’t avoid it or you will never progress. Embrace it, and learn how to make it work for you.