Training Burnout


Tough TRAINING getting you burnt out?

Too often, I see people getting burned out. Some after just a few months of practice, others make it to black belt and then quit.

Isn't it funny how you can spend months or years developing yourself, then just give up?

The problem here is that people see a black belt, or any rank, as an ending point when really they have missed the target altogether. It is often said that Karate is a way of life, so much in fact that it sounds cliche. But what does that mean? At the end of the day, isn't Karate just kicking and punching?

-Well, yea, it is.

Bet you didn't see that one coming.

But that's not the point, the "end of the day" isn't what you really train for; no, you train for training experience.

It's about what you find along the way, who you become, and the physical, emotional, and mental strength you build to get there. And that's the paradox, that's the reason for Karate, and why there isn't an end. Karate is like strength training; you don't bench press to say that you did it, that wouldn't make any sense. No, you bench press to stimulate growth in your muscles. And just like your muscles, if you don't use Karate, you will lose it.

I'm not just talking about the kicks and punches now; I'm talking about everything karate, the patience, the mental durability, the emotional anchor. Karate as a way of life means always trying to be better; it means maintaining your mental, emotional, and physical state, and improving on it. It also means being able to kick butt. But that's just a result of the journey.

Karate is not an accomplishment; it's a state of being.

So how do you avoid burn out?

Here are my thoughts.

Take a break. Seriously, if you go on a vacation, just do vacation stuff. I know that there's the martial art's mantra of always training. But you can't do that forever; you're not Goku or Superman. So take it easy, you're not going to lose anything by taking a break for a week now and then.

Be hungry. Not just for good food, but for new information. Because Karate is a complete martial art, you will be able to apply it's practice anywhere you go. Try training another martial art for a while, and you will begin to see techniques in a whole new light.

Return to your roots. Yes, there is an endless number of Kata and techniques you can learn, but remember that you don't need to know everything, nor should you. Yes, keep a variety to make training enjoyable, but always keep practicing the things you are good at. Everyone finds joy in being able to do something well. So if you have high side kicks, don't stop doing them just because there are more difficult or advanced techniques.

Do what you do. You won't be able to do everything that everyone else can. And there will be things that you do better than others. And that's okay. Practice what makes sense and what works for your body.

Drop the schedule and have fun. If you aren't having a good time, you're going to burn out; it's okay to train for a belt grading longer than your peers. If you are having fun, you will continue to grow. You can't change how long it takes for a flower to bloom, but you can water and nurture it so that when it does bloom, the flower is healthy and beautiful.