In over 19 years of intensive involvement in our dojo, I have seen patterns develop in adult student training missteps. On the plus side, I have also seen patterns in the things that adult students appreciate about karate. This article is geared mainly to adult students. Kids and karate parents will get their turn in other posts. Although this is geared toward our more mature students, kids and their parents may also gain awareness from these adults’ training mistakes. Maybe bringing awareness will help us all avoid them. (“Us” includes me: we all need reminders sometimes to help prevent us from making that karate student training mistake.) Here are the top five blunders from adult students that I have observed:
Karate Student Training Mistake 1: BREAK TIME
Taking off from karate training for a week or so while you go on vacation is not a problem. (Instructors appreciate a heads-up beforehand so they don’t worry about you.) But the most common thing that kills your training is stopping classes for an undetermined amount of time (without a restart date). Taking a month’s break to catch up on finances, career, projects, or whatever, just doesn’t work. Instead, use the discipline and perseverance skills you learn in karate. Also use your smarts to apply balance. Then you will gain greater understanding in applying your training to improve your life.
Karate Student Training Mistake 2: EXCLUDING FAMILY
Long-term karate training is a life-changing and life-improving venture. Your family, whether that means spouse, children, parents, siblings etc., can and should appreciate your dojo involvement. And they can and should be involved in your karate school too. That could be anything from just attending a dojo get-together once in a while. To helping around the place while waiting for you to do classes. To attending classes along with you. A traditional Okinawan karate dojo is family-friendly.
Karate Student Training Mistake 3: THINKING IT’S A HOBBY
Thinking of karate as a hobby is common adult karate student training mistake. Hobbies tend to be things we try out. We pursue them for a while until they are no longer novel. Then we look for different lighthearted entertainment. Or we engage in hobbies seasonally, or when the mood strikes. Traditional karate is a way of life. For adult students in particular, the dojo becomes a place that relies on your presence. On the flip-side, your training will help you grow in ways you never even knew possible. And the dojo will be a network of people who you want to be around and lean on at times too. I’ll put it this way: karate is a way of life that helps you to improve your life. And sticking with it through the tough times helps you reap exponentially more benefits.
Karate Student Training Mistake 4: LETTING EGO RULE
Unfortunately, at times a student will let their ego make the decision to quit. This can be difficult to pinpoint. Of course we have never had a student say, “I’m leaving because my ego got in the way.” But we have seen students who made this karate student training mistake and stopped training when someone who was a lower rank got ahead of them. Remember that each student is on their own individual training path. You must trust your instructor to make the call on who’s ready to advance in rank. If you can trust them with your physical safety in class, surely you can trust them to do this other part of their job.
Karate Student Training Mistake 5: THINKING IT’S REHAB
This is a rare karate student training mistake. But I feel it must be said. If you are thinking of joining a dojo instead of attending a rehab program or professional counseling, please think again. Instructors are not psychologists or psychiatrists (and if we were, we would charge you accordingly for those services). We are not professionally trained to coach people through addictions or other destructive behavior. We are professional karate instructors. Thus we conduct ourselves as such. Karate can help you become more skilled in living your life. But it is not a replacement for “professional help.” I say this in all seriousness. There is no shame in seeking guidance when needed. Here is a link for some of the serious issues that many people face every day.
Hopefully my pointing out these mistakes that I have seen will help you and me both to do better in our own karate training. What karate training mistakes do you wish you had known better than to make?