2017 wasn’t an easy year for many people. The news was scary and often overwhelming, to the point where possible existence of aliens was greeted with little more than a tired shrug. It seemed that little made sense. The very nature of truth and reality was questioned, and UFC star Conor McGregor decided to face pugilism legend Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. And all of this took its toll on our collective mental health. According to a study published in the April 17 issue of Psychiatric Services, more Americans are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. (And the AWMA Blog felt it, too. That’s part of why we looked into some of the ways that martial arts can help you get through rough times back in October.)
But if you’re reading this right now, you survived all of those challenges! We made it to 2018 and all of the promise and refocus that a new year offers. We might not all be feeling our best right now, but we have the opportunity to do our best in the next 12 months. So for this New Year’s post, we thought we’d try something a little different. In the past, we’ve covered the best ways to make and keep fitness resolutions, and the important role that rest can play in helping you keep fitness and martial arts goals over the long term. In honor of all we’ve been through and all we face in the coming year, though, we thought we’d focus on being kind to yourself and your training partners in your martial arts training this year. Here’s a list of manageable but meaningful resolutions that will help you recover from 2017 and work toward becoming a better martial artist and a better person in 2018.
1. Genuinely celebrate your accomplishments.
Did you keep a resolution? Meet a goal? Achieve a new belt in your martial arts training? Win at a tournament? Did you master a move that once seemed out of reach? Did you make it to class when you just didn’t feel like getting out of bed? Don’t downplay those achievements! If you worked hard and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, then you deserve a little congratulations for the things that you accomplished as a result.
We’re not talking about developing an ego or gloating. What we’re talking about is a thoughtful reflection on everything that went into this moment in your training journey. Think about what you put into this step forward in your martial arts career and give yourself credit for all of that hard work and determination. Think about the people who helped you reached this point and thank them for their support and their belief in you. Take stock of how great it feels to finally meet your goal and promise yourself that you can look back on this moment when things start getting tough again.
Then get back on the mats and start pursuing the next goal.
2. Learn from your setbacks.
Like all things worth pursuing, martial arts isn’t all about the highs. If it were, we’d probably never learn anything truly worth knowing, anyway. Losing a competition, falling short of a goal, or making a mistake in your training is never fun. But, as any good martial artist will tell you, loss is one of the best teachers that you’ll ever have.
So when things aren’t going well in your training, give yourself a moment to feel sad or frustrated. Remember that nobody is perfect. Then remind yourself about the highs that we mentioned above. Once you’re feeling a little better, it’s time to start thinking about where you went wrong and what you can do to avoid making those same mistakes again. Reflect on what important lessons you can take from this momentary setback. And then get back on the mats.
Hands-on instruction, practice, and sparring might be the best way to learn and improve in martial arts, but it’s not the only way. A little observation and research, for example, can be like cross-training for your brain. If you’re resting or injured, visit your dojo and observe a class. Watch some videos. Read a book about a martial artist that you admire – or a book by a martial artist you admire. Take notes. Ask yourself what you can take from this research and apply to your own training. And then get back on the mats.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t hesitate to offer it.
Pride and ego are terrible training tools. If you’re confused or frustrated by a move, don’t be afraid to reach out in your martial arts community for help. Ask your instructor for clarification if you didn’t understand something about a lesson, of if you’re struggling to apply what you’ve learned to your own practice. Ask a trusted training partner to help you work through any rough spots in your game. You’ll be surprised at how much simpler – and how much less miserable – your struggles can seem when you approach them as part of a team.
On a related note, if you see a teammate struggling with any of the above, ask them if you can help in any way. Not only will be you be building community in your training, you’ll also be improving your own game, because teaching other people is one of the best ways to learn something yourself.
5. Try something new.
Whether it’s a tournament you’ve never competed in before, a new martial arts class, a different form of cross-training, a new training partner, or even a new way of attacking an old technique, stepping outside of your comfort zone and shaking up your martial arts routine can help you avoid plateaus and bring a fresh perspective to your training.
6. Challenge yourself.
We mean that literally.
From tournaments to sparring, a little competition is a healthy part of martial arts. But if you start comparing yourself to your opponents and your teammates too much, it can really get in the way of your own growth. At the end of the day, the only thing you have any real control over is yourself – and that’s the only person you should be truly worried about in your training. Do you want to try to measure your skills and accomplishments against someone else’s in 2018? Instead compare against yourself in 2017. One of the best and most meaningful goals you can set for yourself in training is trying to be a better martial artist than you were yesterday.
Do you have any resolutions to add to this list? What are your fitness and martial arts goals for the new year?
And don’t forget to check out our online store. We’ve got all of the fitness and martial arts gear that you’ll need to reach new highs in your 2018 training.