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Training Motivation
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February 12, 2014
1:41 pm
Soojae
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Hi everyone,

The main reason that I am writing this post is that I have a question about motivation. Lately, I have had a hard time getting motivated to train or during training. I feel like I don’t have that same fire burning that I used to have some time in the past. I know that I really enjoy martial arts and that I will be doing it for a long time, I just am not sure what is up. So, I guess my question is: have you ever felt unmotivated to train for an extended period of time? If so, how did you re-ignite that fire because I assume there are many of you in the community that have been doing martial arts for a while and you continue to do what you do to this day.

Just to clarify some things and add a little detail, let me explain. Two things tend to happen:
1) I just have a hard time getting motivated to go to training OR
2) I get to training, lets say its a grappling day, I’ll do the drills with some energy, if it’s not something new, I’ll admit, I kind of just go through the motions (I know, not a good thing to do). The real issue is when we start to roll. I tend to grapple people that are all stronger and at least 25-30 lbs heavier (that’s all that is available), we’ll start to roll and I notice that I just kind of hold them in guard and feel too “lazy” to do things. I do what I have to do in order to keep from getting submitted but that’s about it.

Any input would be appreciated. This is something that has been bugging me for a while. Thank you all in advance.

February 13, 2014
11:37 am
Dr Sick

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What a great question. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

I Think that anyone who has immersed themselves in the pursuit of excellence in any discipline long enough, eventually experiences a plateau, a burnout period or the proverbial highs and lows that seem to be a package deal with long term commitments. I think what you are encountering is completely natural.

In fact, I don’t know if any of you have noticed but I haven’t updated the blog or the youtube channel for quite some time now. For I think 3 years straight I updated the two at least once a week and then one day I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. There were a number of factors that went into it but perhaps the most important one was that, as you’ve said, for the time being, I’ve lost my spark. I just don’t feel the passion for it I did in the past and life is too short to force myself to do something like youtube or anything else like it that I’m not passionate about.

I still update DamageControlMMA.com and I still have a burning excitement for keeping it alive and well. Our members, guys like you Soojae inspire me and keep that fire burning bright!

As far as remedy’s are concerned, there are a lot of options out there. Kiser and I have rode out a number of these “slumps” throughout the years, sometimes at the same time, other times either Kiser goes through it, I support him and he pulls out and then down the road he returned the favor. But to impart a piece of wisdom that he’s told me a number of times “That which you resist, persists.” Which is another way of saying, if you’re not feeling it, don’t force it on yourself. Take a break, take a step back, that fire will rekindle eventually and you’ll be right back into the fray.

This is exactly the approach I’ve taken with the DamageControlMMA youtube channel. I’m sure I’ll eventually snap out of my funk and be back to doing what we do on there but for the time being, I’m enjoying my break and taking the time to enjoy a number of other activities that I am passionate about. And this brings me to another strategy, have multiple hobbies and passions. You can rotate around as your passion wanes from one to the other. This too is something I’ve learned from Kiser.

When I was a youngster, I was a fanatic about Tennis. I’m the type of guy who hates sucking at things. I don’t dabble. If I decide to pick up a hobby, I’m going all the way. I used to get up and get out on the courts from the time the sun came up until the sun went down at night. My hard work paid off and I eventually took a regional title in highschool, making it to State 3 years running. But at the time I didn’t know Kiser and Tennis was all I did. It became my entire identity. If I won I was a winner and if I lost, I was a looser. By the time I graduated, the self imposed stress level to win, to be a winner and to not be a looser was too great and I completely burned out. I completely destroyed what once was such a rewarding and fun pass time for me.

Flash forward a number of years and there I am studying the Martial Arts. This time with more experience and maturity under my belt and good friends and influences around me like Kiser. I noticed that as much as he loved the Martial Arts, he also really enjoyed lifting weights and other hobbies that took place off the mats. I realized that this was a great way to avoid allowing the Martial Arts to define me and over the years it has helped me to re-kindle my passion for the Arts in times when my motivation began to slide.

My late friend William Lovell the 3rd was a Martial Artist, a Lover (not of mine ha ha), and a extraordinarily talented Bassist. He and I would often talk about how being a great Martial Artist helped to be a great Musician and how being a great Musician helped to become a great Martial Artist. We would talk about the similarities between Miles Davis and Genki Sudo. I see the same correlations to the Arts in the respective fields of my Uncles who are wood workers, my brother in law who I will call an ammo-smith and guys like Les Stroud, Cody Lundin and the late Steve Irwin.

Sorry for the long winded response but this is something I am passionate about, connecting with my DamageControlMMA brothers and relating that you are not the only one who goes through this kind of stuff. Suffice it to say, just relax and take a break if you need one. The mat will be there for you when you are ready to return.

As far as working on drills, I’m going to be straight with you, because I am your friend. I am going to tell you something that maybe you don’t want to hear. Your approach to drilling is amateur. It is low grade and beneath you. If you just go through the motions and don’t put your heart into it, that is entirely on you! That is your short coming and your loss. Better not to train than to train with such little respect for yourself, the art, your instructors and everyone’s time.

I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite books, “Gates of Fire”. A story set in Sparta relating to the legendary 300. I will paraphrase and condense the scene in the interest of time. Polynikes an Olympic Champion, full spartan warrior and war veteran, is looking across the training grounds where the young boys are drilling when he notices a youth, Alexandros with his Shield face down in the dirt. The Shield is the most significant and important piece of a Spartan’s kit. It is the source of Spartan tactical strength, it not only protects it’s bearer, but the man to his left and the city before which he stands. There are strict protocols for its handling, portage and resting states. Face down in the dirt is not one of them, and in fact is a crime so heinous it would be akin to a religious man seeing someone wipe their ass with a page from the Holy Bible.

Polynikes walks down to the troop of boys to with which Alexandros is assigned. “Ah, we’ve been so busy drilling and working, I haven’t had time to take a piss.” “How convenient, a chamber pot, right here in the middle of the training grounds, who’s bright idea was it to place one here for me.” “It belongs to me sire.” Replied Alexandros, “It is my father’s shield.” “No, it couldn’t possibly be a Spartan’s shield. For everyone knows that to place one face down in the dirt is a disgrace. Where is the proper place for a resting shield boys?” “Upright, leaning against our knee, sir!” the troop of boys answered. “That is correct. Therefore, this must be a piss pot.” Polynikes then relieved his full bladder into Alexandros shield as it lay, now in a puddle of piss and mud on the ground.

“And why is it that we lay our shields against our knees boys?” Asked Polynikes. “So that we can have them at the ready at a moments notice sir.” The troop replied. “Most excellent young lads. BATTLE FORMATION!” shouted Polynikes. The boys sprinted into place, shields at the ready. “Drop that bronze kids. Put them face down in the dirt like Alexandros here.” Commanded Polynikes, who then reached for a nearby cane. Starting with Alexandros, Polynikes raised the cane above his head and shouted “Shields to Port!” Alexandros knelt down into the stinking piss slurry and scrambled to wrench his father’s shield from the earth. As he did Polynike’s cane caught him across his face, breaking his nose. Down the line Polynikes went, lashing at boy after boy until finally, the fifth one was able to get his shield in place to defend himself. “You dog stroking sons of whores. Drop those bowls back in the dirt.”

“Shields to port!” shouted Polynikes, again making his way down the line until every boy in the ranks had received their broken nose. Payment for their shameful lack of discipline. “Now, put those cheese plates against your knees, like a Spartan.” Commanded Polynikes. “Shields to port!” he shouted, and as his cane came down, the sound of bronze and oak rang out across the valley. This was repeated again and again until every boy had covered himself as well as his brother to the left against the Polynikes vicious strokes.

When he had finished, Polynikes glared down the line, looking each boy in the eye and then nodded to himself. He turned his back on the bloodied faces of his pupils and walked back up the hill into his perch, observing the remainder of the day’s training.

The point of this story is that we study the MARTIAL Arts. Those arts that were developed as an answer to personal combat. Complacency has no place in their study, except for the weekend warriors and those who only wet their feet in the depths of the fighting arts. You are not one of these. You are a Professional. You need to act like one. If you think you’re so good at a technique that you don’t need to drill it, that you’ve drilled it enough that you understand it backwards, upside down and blindfolded, you’d better be right because the next time one of those big barrel chested bubbas is trying to pop your head off of your shoulders, and you’re lights are starting to fade, you’d better damn well be able to pull it off.

There is always something to learn. If a familiar technique is being taught and you aren’t engaged, that is your fault. You aren’t concentrating enough. You aren’t visualizing what it will be like to do that technique in a real world scenario, you aren’t working hard enough to learn the intricacies of the technique, the leverage points, where a toe can replace a finger hold, where an alternate grip might be obtained if the strong arm is encumbered, what the underlying principle and theory that makes the machinery of limbs work as they do for the said technique. How does the technique fit into the bigger picture, into your game, into you opponent’s game.

Rest that cheese plate on you knee Spartan! And be ready to hold it to port when the metal hits the meat. Practice makes habit. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in War. You don’t live up to your expectations, you live down to your training. Train properly.

Now, finally in regards to “Just kind of holding them in guard.” What’s so wrong about that? Remember, Jiu-jitsu is a self defense art. It is about preserving yourself, not about tapping this guy out, or sweeping that guy. To quote the Gracies, if you go home, uninjured after a fight, a roll, a lesson, you win! Often times it is in your doing nothing, and your opponent’s forcing something that you will find your submissions and sweeps. And if not, and you survive against these big mat monsters, then that my friend is no less a victory.

I hope this has helped and I look forward to hearing your thoughts regarding this conversation

February 13, 2014
7:18 pm
Soojae
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Thank you for the response. I enjoy the long winded responses, there is a lot of interesting and insightful information to be found.

I find that it is hard to completely take a break from the martial arts, since during my “free time” I tend to have it on my mind (thinking about techniques, etc.) But during the past week or so, I haven’t been training too much, currently nursing a knee injury. As unfortunate as all injuries are, it is a slight blessing in disguise. I did notice that when I did decide to go back to classes to teach/help out, I was more engaged than I was before. So, I can see how displacing one self from the activity for a bit can be a solution. I do agree with the phrase, “That which you resist, persists”, it is very similar to “To try to forget, is to remember.” Going with the flow is definitely a less draining solution and it is something that I have been trying to do.

I think it is cool that you reference music and martial arts, so really, the unity or ties between different arts whether it be something you hear, see or express through physical movement. I personally believe strongly with these connections and find that being able to balance one with another to be helpful. So, if heavily into the physical arts try to balance with an auditory art as well. It allows for the general idea of creativity to flow, which is important is in all arts, while still being distant enough from other art forms to be considered a “break” activity.

There is no doubt in my mind that when it comes to drills, it is on me. I hope I didn’t make it seem that I was trying to pass the responsibility onto my training partners. I can see what you are saying though, if I had to sum what you said up in few words, I would say that ultimately a change in perspective may be a helpful tool. Instead of looking at an armbar on a macroscopic level, look at it microscopically. See the nuances, work the details, and full understand the mechanics and understand its applications, not just in a tournament setting but a life setting.

I find it interesting that the topic of changing perspective comes up. I do not know if you have ever heard of this person, Eric Thomas. He is a public speaker that inspires and motivates people to change their lives and succeed. What I find interesting is that one of the topics/ideas that he speaks about in order to start heading down the road to success is perspective, a change in perspective. One example he gives is, paraphrasing, “A basketball coach tells two players, at the same time, go home and shoot one hundred shots. One play goes home and shoots one hundred shots, the other makes one hundred shots.” Right now, I am just shooting one hundred shots, doing the bare-minimum and not taking it to the next level. But you are absolutely right, I need to take the time, do it right and make one hundred shots, not just shoot them.

When it comes to rolling and the “holding them in guard” situation, I can see what you are saying and you have again provided me with a new perspective. I never really thought of it in a self-defense kind of mindset and surviving on the mat as a form of victory because it is true, when going against guys that are significantly stronger and heavier, I am not supposed to win those matches (on paper), I know that it can happen, but surviving when the person could easily out-muscle me, is indeed a form of success. I guess when I reflect upon my rolls, I see that I take training too “seriously” at times. What I mean by that is that I think of every roll like its a competition. Which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing to do, just not all the time especially when trying to learn/incorporate a new technique.

Considering the fact that this topic of motivation is so important to me, I passed this question on to some close friends of mine in the grappling community and they gave me some different perspectives as well to provide self-challenges to keep the flames burning. One being to focus on one or two things during the rolls. It could be mount attacks, it could be guard sweeps, it could be anything, but focus everything on getting to where you need to get to in order to execute the chosen technique. I like this idea because it gets your mind focused. Sure it is focused on one technique, but it is getting the mind used to focusing while in a grappling setting (for this example). Also, by focusing everything you have on that one or two techniques, you are learning to execute, to do, and to push yourself. It is definitely something I am going to try once my knee is healed because I feel that even though the focus is on one or two things, it requires full body and mind engagement, commitment and trust to succeed, especially against this bigger guys.

I apologize if I started to ramble a bit, I tend to do that. I get into a thinking/philosophic mode and go with it. Thank you again for the response. The story that you shared about the Spartan warriors was a nice way to paint a picture of the idea that you wanted to pass on, I really appreciate it. It definitely provided me with a different way to look at things.

February 14, 2014
2:19 pm
paul thomas
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Hi Soojae
I have been involved in various martial arts for about 30 years ad have felt the same as you on many occasions ,I think Dr Sick has it on the button with the word plateau . a time when what Sun Tzu describes as the “inner opponent ” that little voice in your head that tells you ” why are you doing this ? ” or ” you not gettiing anywhere give up ” and it takes real determination to get past it and start climbing again , i know its easy to say but dont be beaten before you start , remember the growth is in the discomfort . Maybe a change of training partner would help ? can you speak quietly to one of the bigger guys and explain your struggling a bit , could be a great chance for you both to grow and learn from each other and even become one of your strengths ?
Finding DCMMA kickstarted my passion for martial arts again and has helped give me some direction , the past few months of my personal life have been some of the toughest ever so i have not been here as often as usual but im sure i will get through it and so will you .
Dig deep bud .all the best Paul

February 18, 2014
10:38 am
Dr Sick

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It also sounds to me like there is a very competitive vibe where you train. I might be wrong but that’s what I’m picking up.

A competitive environment can drive you to reach heights that you’d never otherwise accomplish. But rolling is a multifaceted training tool. It can be competitive, but it can also be, creative, therapeutic, non-competitive, etc. And a hyper competitive, only competitive environment can also contribute to burn out.

When everyone is always out to get you, you have to have your guard up all the time. There is never any psychological rest. It’s important to develop friendships and partners that you can have non-competitive, healing type rolls with. Kiser and I primarily do these types of rolls with each other. That is not to say we aren’t trying to catch each other. But it isn’t our primary focus. Our primary focus is fun, and creativity. We are looking at getting a healthy, safe, work out, and have a few laughs.

Finding and developing training partners that you can do this with can go a long way in helping to stave off burn outs.

February 25, 2014
7:49 am
Soojae
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There are some guys that I can trust to work with. Even with them though, things tend to start to move towards a more competitive atmosphere. This is the case with both striking classes and grappling classes. With beginners, it’s different. There tends to be a more playful atmosphere with the rolls, but even if we instruct to roll with technique and to keep moving and trying things. Rolls between more experienced people tend to move towards competition rolls. Still below what is done at an actual competition, but still up there. As mentioned above, such rolls can be a great benefit to help push you further, but if they are always that way, they lead to burnout and stagnation, in my opinion.

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