5 Mistakes Made While Training in Martial Arts

Listen, we all make mistakes right?

Well, I want to share some of the mistakes that I have made, and continue to make, while training martial arts in hopes that you, the reader, can avoid them yourself. Let’s get right in to it, shall we?

MISTAKE #1: Not Drinking Enough Fluid
If you were planning a 12 hour road trip, would you start the drive with your car running on fumes or would you disregard the “Do Not Top Off” sign and fill the tank to the brim? You’d probably fill up right? Same thing goes for your own fluid level. If you know you’re going to practice you should constantly be drinking.

What to drink? Water is probably the best, but I tend to enjoy all flavors of unsweeted iced tea throughout the day. Monster and Redbull energy drinks, caffeinated beverages, and soda do not count as hydration. Toss those out immediately. Grape juice can stay though.

What time to drink? All friggin’ day long. If that is not possible, try to drink 1-2 hours before you know you’re going to practice. When I feel like I haven’t drank enough water throughout the day, I’ll even pound two huge glasses of water right before I head out the door. The best time to hydrate is BEFORE you feel dehydrated. If you feel dehydrated, it’s too late to pound the fluid and chances are your performance is already suffering

MISTAKE #2: Practicing Without FOCUS
When you enter the dojo a switch should go off in your head: It’s time to work. Does this mean we can’t have fun or talk to our friends. Absolutely not. What it means is that you should question yourself why you arrived at the dojo on that specific day. Was it to train, if so, how hard? Was it to rep a technique? Was it to try and submit everyone? Why are you there? Once you have that in your mind, go and do it. It’s possible to maximize practice with proper mental focus.

How to mentally prepare for practice? This will obviously be different for everyone, but I’ll try my best to explain what I do because I know it’s effective for myself. When I enter the dojo I tend to keep my mood very light until the actual practice begins. I use the time before practice to talk to my friends and students as we wait to actually bow in and start the class. Once the class starts, the switch in my head goes in to work mode and the chatting ends, for me. I think about what I want this specific practice to produce for me.

How to mentally prepare for practice? Click To Tweet

Do I want to develop a new technique? Do I want to work on what I already know? Do I want to rep a new technique or an old one? Ask yourself similar questions while training, then execute. As always, be mindful of your teammates and their desires, you should always be a willing uke.

MISTAKE #3: Being a Terrible Uke
We’ve all had this experience before. You partner up with someone to flow roll, uchikomi, or randori with and that person is not only on a different page than you, he or she is reading an entirely different book. It just seems that practicing with this person is incredibly difficult and frustrating, don’t be that difficult person.

A list on how to not be that difficult person:
Wash your gi
Be mindful of your partner’s comfort
Slow down
Cut your nails
Introduce yourself
Give your partner appropriate body tension/responses
Brush your teeth
Don’t be late to class
Respect your teacher
Respect the dojo
Control your emotions
Don’t yawn
Bow or shake hands when you’re done
Don’t coach unless in the position to do so or asked to do so
Don’t complain, condemn, or criticize
Don’t slouch
Be mindful of a potential size difference between yourself and your partner
Train with everyone

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not do everything listed above, but I believe it’s a good general list. Also, I always have a good experience, and appreciate, when someone does any one of the items listed above. Try a new one next time you train.

Don’t complain, condemn, or criticize Click To Tweet

MISTAKE #4: Not Listening To Your Body
This mistake is two sided. First, listen to your body while training. While training, weird things happen all the time. A finger may get stuck in a gi. Your chest may suddenly begin to ache. A knee may get twisted. If these things happen, listen to your body. How severe is the injury? You don’t have to have “Dr.” in front of your name to know what hurts and what seriously hurts. If in question, stop what you’re doing and seek a higher power of aid.

Secondly, listen to your body after training. Are you dehydrated? Did you sustain a bruise? Did you tweak your neck? Some injuries take some time to reveal themselves, sometimes hours or days after they occur. Treat them accordingly. Maybe you’re feeling extra fatigued or extremely sore. If this is the case, rest. Don’t be afraid to rest as it is arguably almost as important as training. The vast majority of injuries sustained while training can be healed via rest, but I’m not a doctor, so don’t quote me on that.

Respect the dojo. Control your emotions. Click To Tweet

MISTAKE #5: Lack of Patience
I still suffer from this mistake, not only while training judo and jiu jitsu, but also in life. I tend to be impatient and it’s a character flaw I am trying to conquer.

Patience while training can be applied in every aspect, from learning and drilling a new technique to rolling and randori. Teaching children a basic technique requires patience in heavy doses. Patience of knowing when to finish your opponent is invaluable. Nothing worth having is gained instantly, it must be paid it’s due time.

In life, for me, this is where I try to apply patience. If I’m in a line, I try to pass the time by brightening someone’s day or striking up a small conversation. And if I catch a yellow light I always slow down, I look at it as the universe telling me to slow down, so I do so. Also if your restaurant food is taking long or your oil change is 15 minutes past it’s out time, relax. These people are usually doing their best to meet your needs and something may be in motion that you are not aware of. Patience really is a virtue.

Lastly, these mistakes listed above have all been made by myself. I continue to strive and conquer these mistakes and I hope that by reading them, you will avoid similar pitfalls.