Losing Interest in Martial Arts Practise (With Opinions)

Burnout is real.

I witnessed firsthand in my boxing classes, together with reports from my more experienced buddies (which I will share later on), that a significant chunk of people who started full of vigor learn combat sports do not seem to last long in training.

At the start of each year, classes are chock full of new faces who seem enthusiastic and in fact, it is a pleasant sight to behold that so many are interested to learn the boxing that I am so enthusiastic about. Yet give it a couple of months and more than half of those same new faces are now nowhere to be seen save a few and the class size once more returns to how it was prior.

  • In the beginning, I chalked it up to people simply being busy with their lives where life compels us to move at a mind-blowing speed hence that should be the reason, is it?
  • Another justification I had was perhaps this incidence was more prevalent in boxing compared to other martial arts. However, when I inquired with friends of mine who I deem to be far more experienced than myself in the world of martial arts, they too presented the same scenario.

One of my buddies who is a seasoned practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has competed in various Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and spent an entire year in Thailand training with Muay Thai fighters over there gave his take on why there seems to be a high turn out and it came down to:

“People come with preconceived notions to classes and expect to become good in a matter of months and when they realize how difficult and even repetitive training can be, it shatters their delusions. Fight sports in general have a way of humbling one’s ego and not everyone can take it. Some get disillusioned when they realize they are terrible at sparring for instance when they imagined themselves to be great in their minds. Jiu-Jitsu takes most people to a place where they are put in extreme discomfort because being on the ground and using one’s entire body to maneuver and submit the opponent is akin to being thrown into the ocean. It doesn’t feel natural and takes a lot of time to be comfortable. They don’t realize that everyone sucks at the beginning and even world-class champions had to go through countless humbling lessons.”

Another buddy of mine who is a senior disciple in Pak Hok Pai Kung Fu with over a decade of training experience and has competed in both national and regional competitions shared:

“Basics are boring for most people as they expect to learn fancy, cool moves within the first few lessons and expect to fight well in one or two months. Most people come for the wrong reasons like wanting to brag to their friends that they can fight now and how cool a fighter they are. The sheer hard work turns most people off and when they realize training never ends, they seem to get bored. It's as though suddenly everything seems boring in their eyes and they quit.”

I agree with both of their statements with the additional fact that, these things aren’t limited to martial arts. As a matter of fact, the issue of people getting bored and quitting goes beyond martial arts as it is a problem of this modern-day microwave society where instant gratification and overnight success seem to be a predominant theme in many people’s minds.

The reality that one will suck terribly at the start before improving seems to be a lost concept in a sizeable amount of the population and people refusing to let go of their preconceived notions and concepts almost always lead to minimal progress.

I firmly believe that every student intending to learn martial arts should really contemplate what Bruce Lee meant in this statement so as to have a fruitful and progressive journey:

“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

Once again, this applies to everything we do in life, be it pursuing academics, dating, investing our money, starting a business from scratch, and yes, martial arts.

Now there are external factors, such as poorly run classes with poor coaching, that push a student into leaving.

Ironically when I first signed up to learn boxing, I only lasted in that particular school for a mere 2 months before joining another school where I have been ever since. The reason for my quitting was simply due to the fact, during most sessions, I and a few other students were asked to train by ourselves with the coach occasionally coming over to check and correct us.

It was fun in the beginning because we could do what we felt like doing but the problem that we realized was, we had no idea if we were improving or worse, executing moves wrongly. Although the coach was helpful when he corrected us, it was insufficient and he spent most of his time focusing on fighters who were training for competitions, which I totally understand. I am sure that having an additional coach or a seasoned fighter guide us more thoroughly would have made a world of difference eventually a bunch of us left and some moved to other schools and some dropped boxing totally.

While a big chunk of the equation as to whether a student will preserve and learn or quit, comes down to his internal fortitude and commitment, there are equally damaging external factors as well, as mentioned earlier, that drain the passion out of a student and make them quit due to no fault of their own.

Alas, such is life and the journey will continue!

We also have other posts on offense martial arts and best martial arts for street fights to keep you motivated.

Martial arts enthusiast & loves exploring all of life before it all ends!
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