So you’ve just started taking karate lessons. Or you’ve just signed up for your first karate tournament. Or maybe you’ve hit a plateau in your training, leaving you eager to push through and earn those next karate belts. And you’re looking for a quick fix to help you get to the next level in your practice.
The bad news is that there are no real quick fixes in martial arts. When it comes down to it, nothing beats hard, long-term work when you’re looking to improve your skills. That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, though. There are things that you can do to supplement your training that will help you reach your next big breakthrough a little faster. Here are the five best ways to speed up those training goals:
1. Competition and Sparring
If you’re looking to improve your techniques, there are few better way to accelerate your learning curve than to apply what you’re learning to practical tests, whether that’s in a tournament or in karate sparring with your teammates. This doesn’t mean that you should jump into a new situation in your training entirely unprepared. Your health and safety come first. But if you’re simply avoiding trying something new in your training because you’re not perfect yet, then it might be time to take the leap. Sign up for a competition! Apply those techniques with your sparring partners. It can be intimidating to try new things in such a high pressure environment, but if you flounder at first, don’t lose hope! Winning and succeeding in martial arts can be fun, but it’s not the best way to improve. Loss and failure is where all of the good lessons are found when it comes to becoming a better martial artist – and where that push you need to get to the next rank in karate belts could come from.
2. One-on-One Training
If you find yourself stuck on certain techniques or concepts in class, a great way to break them down is to book a private session with your instructor – or another qualified professional recommended by your instructor – to help you work on your specific issues at the pace that’s best for you. If private training is out of your budget, though, it can also be helpful to team up with a friend from the gym who’s also looking to work on certain trouble areas of their. A little after-class practice, discussion, or even karate sparring in a low-pressure environment is an excellent ways to help you work out some of the issues in your game.
Cross-training can be a polarizing concept in martial arts. Some people believe that the best way to improve in any discipline is to focus on that discipline alone. If you’re looking to improve your karate sparring, for example, you should keep up your karate sparring. However, a class in a different martial art, or some strength and conditioning can be beneficial if you’re looking for a new perspective or a new physical advantage in your training. As long as there’s a decent amount of crossover between what you’re doing to supplement your karate and your goals as a karate student, some cross-training could be just what you need to get that extra boost extra fast.
Sure, we’ve all heard the old adage “those who can’t do, teach,” but the truth is that those who teach actually end up benefitting from the process as much as their students do. That’s because the act of explaining a technique or a concept to someone else actually helps your own brain to process and retain the information better than simply trying to memorize it or practice it by yourself. So if you want to improve your own karate, reach out to the younger karate belts and see if there’s anything you can help them with. You might be surprised at just how much your own karate sparring and training soars thanks to the experience.
5. Do Your Research
You can’t train karate all the time. You’re only human, which means that you’re going to have to take an appropriate amount of rest to allow your body to heal and not push yourself to the point of illness or injury. Giving your body a break doesn’t mean that your brain has to be idle, though. If you’re taking some time off for rest or recovery, you can always audit a class. Sure, you might feel a pang of jealousy when you’re missing out of techniques and karate sparring, but there’s also a lot that you can miss when you’re caught up in physically performing the activities. So grab a notebook, sit on the sidelines, and watch how the different karate belts process what they’re learning and adapt certain techniques for their own use. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can pick up from observation alone. If you can’t make it to the gym, watching videos or reading karate books is also a great way to augment your training and help you reach that next rank a little faster.