1. People quit because their ego can’t take “losing” in class
It’s no secret martial arts is a fascinating activity we can engage in. Various martial arts have varying purposes and skill-sets but all of them require a high depth of knowledge to be successful. It’s this “depth” that addicts people and often keeps them around studying for years. Despite this, most people end up quitting their martial art training. This is unfortunate because they quit early and miss the benefits of the training. The reason that most of them quit is because they aren’t able to deal with the massive blow to your ego that you receive in a martial art class.
2. This happens for awhile especially in the beginning you mostly lose and get dominated
When you first start a martial art class you aren’t very good and are dominated in sessions with your partners. My first night in jiu-jitsu class I was held down for 20 minutes and unable to move. This happened in front of Renzo Gracie who’s a world recognized competitor, member of the Gracie family and owner of the school! My dad and Renzo watched as I squirmed around like a fish out of water! It’s much the same when you start boxing, your movements are awkward, you feel slow and you tire instantly. Same in Judo where you get flipped on your head by everybody, every throw feels weird and things are moving too fast for you to be able to do anything.
Furthermore, you’re dominated and don’t feel confident often for many years. In combat sports you don’t feel competent for a long time. In Guided Chaos practitioners are able to hit you from different directions and angles. This happens in front of the watchful eye of your teacher that you want to impress and other students as well. The ideal you had in your head of being able to dominate everyone in class quickly goes away as you begin to realize the harsh reality of where your skill level is in relation to everybody else.
This breaks peoples confidence, damages their ego and they stop training. For some this happens in the first month, year or after six years of training. Regardless of how long people choose to stick around it’s their inability to deal with the “ass kicking phase” that sends them packing. Some people are able to stick around awhile and gain some skill but every time they train with higher skilled people it bruises their ego.
3. To overcome this frustration you must develop patience and learn to enjoy working with experienced people
The solution to this problem is to stop fighting this phase of training and develop the patience to deal with it and potentially enjoy it. It’s been my experience that the best people in any given martial art are some of the most competitive people you’ll meet. However, they use their competitiveness to their advantage as opposed to letting it hold them back. They begin to see the “painful” experience of being “dominated” as MORE important to their training than the pleasurable experience of dominating.
4. Working with experienced people and being dominated means you’re learning
The experience of being dominated and placed under stress creates a better practitioner. Consider if when someone first started learning to drive a car they stopped after a week because they still overturned, had difficulty keeping the car straight, didn’t always take in the big picture and was terrible at parking. If they told you this was an indication they can’t learn how to drive you’d correct them and say no this is an indication that you’re learning. It’s a necessary process to learning that can’t can’t be skipped.
The process of learning a martial art is similar because you learn being dominated isn’t an indication of failure but that you’re learning. Just as you refine your turns by doing it over and over; you refine your left hook, your timing, your guard pass, your chop to the throat by doing it a lot. You must do it over and over having it countered, getting hit and then doing it successfully to refine the technique to perfection.
5. Learn to love all aspects of the process of learning a martial art not just “winning”
Practitioners who stick with their art learn to love all parts of the process not just the aspect associated with winning. I can honestly say getting dominated and struck by guided chaos masters is a FUN experience. It’s a reminder I have more to learn and my movements that allow me to get out the way remind me I’m improving! I genuinely no longer desire sessions where I completely dominate because I realize I don’t get as better by consistently doing this.
Lastly the aspect that people that stick with martial arts learn to deal with is the slowness of this process. I learned how to drive in two weeks and after that I was on the road with all of you winging it like nobody’s business. Our society is set up so that in a short period of time you can learn how to drive and blend in without embarrassing yourself. The skill level to get your license is relatively low. DON’T expect this in a martial art class as you won’t blend in for awhile, you’ll look awkward for awhile and you’ll be noticed as a beginner for awhile. Accept it and love it because you’ll spend the REST of your life as an expert or black belt once you reach that level. You’ll never feel the novelty of being a beginner again.
6. Recognize this as an important lesson for life not just martial arts
This process is a reflection of how life works not just martial arts. Anything you do in life you’ll start as neophyte, and will have to accept the harsh “ass kicking” period in the beginning and as you continue. I’ve found it’s hardest for me to accept this in the field of martial arts because fighting is heavily tied to our egos. Getting slammed on your face or punched consistently is one of the worse things we can imagine to happen in public. That said, once you learn how to deal with this it becomes much easier to accept this period in other skills you try to learn. The reason is it might be frustrating learning other skills but you won’t get punched in the face every time you mess up in front of people!
7. Final Thoughts
Hopefully I’ve made a strong case for you to enjoy the process of learning a martial art more and become a life-long martial artist. That’s really the point right? To learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones while receiving the other benefits of being involved in martial arts. So, don’t give up, don’t allow your ego to make you quit and relish in YOUR learning process. Stick with it and I promise you’ll get past these phases and you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for these arts. Good luck!