Realistic Expectations in Martial Art Training

As someone who has seen my fair share of new faces that join boxing with vigor and motivation, barely a month and a half have disappeared and the remaining seem to have lost the vigor that they once possessed.

When inquired, the reason almost always came down to how they found it boring and tiresome to do the basics repeatedly. They were desperate to learn flashier moves that they had seen online or on TV and wanted to look cool.

Expecting to bob and weave like Mike Tyson just because one has trained for three months is delusional yet this disease of delusion seems to infect and spread. Partly thanks to social media which has mastered the art of illusions as reality, which the masses lap up eagerly and believe in.

To see if there were any similar experiences as I had with regard to unrealistic expectations, in other martial art styles, I asked a close buddy of mine who is a senior in-door disciple with over a decade of experience in Pak Hok Pai Kungfu.

His response was:

“They (students) expect to learn immediate self-defense techniques without training the mind and at least the muscle groups required. To understand the basic body biomechanics by practicing basic movements to prepare them to execute the maneuver. They ask to teach easy practical self-defense techniques immediately but they don’t realize that they need to learn how to do a basic punch before they can strike effectively. Many don’t make the time and commitment to the mastery of the basics.”

Very interesting to see the similarities.

Having the right coaching goes without saying as it can either make or break a student.

To get a better understanding of this article, do read the previous one we have written on why most seem to lose interest in martial arts as it is tied with the current topic.

We live in an instant microwave era, where the expectation is for things to be delivered quickly with little effort. This trend has permeated virtually every sphere of human activity, ranging from business, fitness, dating, and of course, martial art is no exception.

Now coming back to our topic of having realistic expectations while training. There are some who will refute the idea of being realistic, claiming that it will impede a student’s progress and that he/she should dream big. Let me be clear, being realistic is not the same as being confined or limited in any way, and nor should it deter a person’s goals and dreams.

Realistic Expectations in Martial Art Training

Being realistic is about having a tangible objective, most importantly an unbiased view of one’s capabilities and to be blunt, yes it is frustrating and depressing at times. But, it is absolutely vital and this painful process is what eventually manifests a dream into reality.

Instead, they were instructed to do bag work, train how to deliver a proper hook jab, and shadow boxing. It did not seem to dawn upon them that they had only been training once a week for a month or two at most. That they were complete newbies and like learning any new skill, it takes a lot of dedicated effort, time, and the right coaching.

Those who had a definite purpose and knew exactly why they wanted to box, almost always endured the training and were never bored having to do the basics for months on end at a time.

And that is the key word, basics. A simple look at all of the great monuments of this world reveals a similarity and that is having a strong and sturdy foundation. Without which it will crumble.

The same goes for virtually any form of martial art.

An uppercut, left hook, or jab might look simple and non-flashy yet there is much more than meets the eye. Unseen factors such as one’s breathing, flexibility, ability to control the move, footwork, and mustering the appropriate strength to execute the move, take time to master.

It is a process of becoming aware of the different mechanics that are functioning in the human body and aligning as many of the factors as we can in our favor to deliver something powerful.

An excellent mentor is unafraid to smash the delusional and unrealistic expectations of the student yet he is deeply committed to the student’s progress. Unfortunately, many get offended or feel belittled, and in a defense to protect their egos, they either quit or find a mentor who caters to their egos, which sad to say, is common in this era.

What these folks fail to realize is that every coach that guided the greats, be it in boxing or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, was uncompromising in training and had no tolerance for misguided notions yet they were immensely committed to their student’s progress. Some even to the extent of sacrificing their personal life for the sake of a student, an example being Cus D’Amato who molded a lost and rebellious teenager into Iron Mike Tyson.

If you are interested in martial arts, we also covered martial arts vs street fighting

This topic is truly endless and it can carry on forever but in the words of the legendary Bruce Lee, “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water”

Like how one leaves their shoes outside before entering a home, leave one’s expectations, attitude, and ego at the entrance before embarking on this wonderful and powerful journey.

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