How much Martial Arts training should I do?

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martial arts trainingIt’s a constant question I get asked all the time. How Much martial arts training should I do? It’s a pretty vague question when you think about it. It usually gets followed up with one of the following.

How long will it take for me to get my Black Belt?
How long before I start winning competitions?
How long before I’m a master?

and the classic…

How long will it be before I’m as good as Bruce Lee?????

Let’s first get something straight, martial arts should be fun so do whatever you want. Now that’s the vague flakey answer out the way, let talk about it properly.

Every martial arts is different, with different martial arts training methods goals and ideals. Being from different countries makes the first big difference, with different cultural influences all mixed into the training. Some focus on kicking, some punching, some throwing, the variation is huge. What else is huge is the differences in what makes a ‘black belt’, teacher, instructor, master, it’s so wide it’s unbelievable. In fact, it’s so big, when someone says. I’m a Black Belt, it’s does’t really mean anything. It can mean “I’ve done some martial arts training for one a week for a year”, up to “I’ve trained 10 times a week for 10 years and am talented and had some luck and forked out plenty of cash getting to the right competitions and meeting the right people”. However, the exception from general public will be the same regardless of what ‘type’ of black belt you are.

The variation doesn’t stop there, many martial arts have different styles, even Brazilian Jiu Jitsu being relatively new on the scene has already started to fragment and split into different factions. Some like Karate are so split up and fragmented it can be hard to keep track of all of them. Many clubs will change associations and groups during the course of your training, yo may not even notice. Other associations will be massively different though, they almost are completely separate systems. ITF Taekwondo and WTF Taekwondo, for instance, are massively different on all kinds of martial arts training levels, including, how you strike and kick, points scoring and competition rules, protective equipment. The list is endless.

Down to the next level, you’ll find every Martial Arts class differs from one to the next, even within the same associations. In fact, I used to train with an association where the same martial arts training techniques varied from region to region. It was helpful to know which instructor you were having in a grading, so you could adapt your techniques depending on what they thought was the ‘correct’ way to do it. When another instructor started shouting at you for doing it wrong you could switch to the ‘northern’ version or the ‘welsh’ version, etc. That kept you thinking.

So what’s the point of all this I’ve just said, well each club, association, style will have their own expectations of the amount of training you’ll need to do to improve. As a rule of thumb, the styles that are heavy on competitions usually are also heavy on martial arts training levels, but it isn’t always true. I once training in a soft style of kung fu and Tai Chi where the instructor expected at least 5 hours training a day. Once you got up to this amount he’d still complain you were;t training hard enough, or focused enough. There wasn’t much to pleas him to be honest.

So the long answer to this questions is, you have to fit with your own club or clubs. If the instructor is constantly on your case about not training hard enough you have to step it up and ‘fit’ with the club. If you going all out and training like a mad man and no-one else at the club trains that way, it just won;t last and you’ll get bored. Both scenario’s mean you’ll have to move on and find clubs that suit you better. Some people I know have to train in two or three separate styles every week, just to get a ‘fit’ that suits them specifically. It’s great that there is such a wealth of martial arts training these day sand we get to make that choice

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