I’ve been teaching martial arts informally for a long time, and I’ve been running my own programs at Gracie Farmington Valley since 2011. I encounter new students all the time with various levels of experience in the martial arts. I’m always impressed by their desire to learn and improve! One common theme is that new students want to get as good as possible as fast as possible. But is more study time and more effort the best way to approach learning something new? Here are three quick tips that may surprise you!
1.) Be Water
This is especially true if you’ve studied martial arts before. If you only view your new art through the filter of what you already know, it will be impossible to truly adapt to your new training. Not only is each fighting style different, but each instructor is different, too. If you don’t try to empty your mind, you will not be able to gain new insight and understanding. My pal, Bruce, explains it best . . .
2.) Don’t Miss the Heavens
When I began studying jiu-jitsu as few years ago, I became obsessed with learning as many techniques as fast as possible. I watched countless instructional videos, bought up all the grappling books from Amazon, and practiced many advanced moves on my old training dummy. However, whenever I went to class or rolled with a partner, I got confused and “stuck” because I couldn’t keep all my learning straight! Instead of taking my time, learning BJJ fundamentals, and mastering the overall concepts of the art, I rushed into the technical side of things. As a result, I stifled a lot of my early progress. As Bruce (sort of) says, “If you focus only on the finger pointing at the moon, you will miss all the beautiful heavens.”
3.) Trust Your Teacher
Does your style have ranks? A formal curriculum? A hierarchy based on seniority and skill? These things turn off some people, but the systematized martial arts have one really good thing going for them: a teacher who knows how to guide students in the art. Yes, you can learn a lot on your own, but without a good teacher it’s hard to sort out all the finer details. What’s more, you may not know the best order in which to learn things. Like math class, most martial arts have a sequence to follow that will build upon itself; skip a few basic steps, and you’ll have difficulty with the more complex material. So find a good teacher you can trust in a style you love, and you’ll make the most of your training!
Ok . . . this video doesn’t really have a lesson attached to it, but it shows how much Lee’s character loved his teacher!
I hope these tips will help you if you’re new to martial arts or if you’re more experienced but are trying a new style. Good luck, and let us know of any other learning tips that work!