What does it mean to be a "good" Martial Arts Student?

The other day, my friend Charlie Cottone of 8 Limbs Muay Thai in West Philly put up a really great post about what it means to be a good Muay Thai Student.  Check it out at the link below: http://www.8limbsacademy.com/a-good-student/

I'm going to slightly modify then elaborate on some of the questions he posed when one is trying to determine how they can be a better student of Martial Arts: Ask yourself a few questions:

Am I a good [Martial Arts] Student?

The answer to this question is really aided by the answers to the questions that follow; however, there are certain "qualities" that we are looking for in students and they don't necessarily have anything to do with your "abilities" as a martial artist.   We are looking for things like: diligence, discipline, patience, perseverance, open-mindedness but most importantly introspection.   You may have a very specific goal or even a variety of goals for your martial arts training, but ultimately the training journey should be about some kind of self-discovery, being on the path to mastery.   Having goals in the future doesn't really matter unless those goals motivate you to change yourself today.  Being on the path to mastery is having a sense of purpose and the right amount of autonomy.

Do I listen to my coaches/instructors?

On a tactical level, this seems pretty straight forward.  When it comes to training, we say "do this" and you do it. For the most part you'll find the answer to be affirmative.  However, it goes deeper than that.  Listening to your coaches and instructors is much more than following our "to do" list.  It's also following our "to don't" list.   Strangely enough (or perhaps not at all), you'll find that you'll have less compliance when it comes to the things we don't want you to do.  This may be the more obvious sacrifices like certain types of food that we want you to forego for awhile.   But, it may also be less obvious things.   There is an over-abundance of workout information and options.   It's very easy to try everything and see what works.  It doesn't work that way.  You are better served by doing the few things we tell you and not doing the rest.

Do I make an effort to improve where my coaches tell me I need improvement?

This is where all of us as students and trainees get distracted by the shiny objects.   This occurs in basically two ways.   First, we all want to do the fun/cool stuff first.  Whether it is martial arts techniques or strength training movements we all gravitate towards that which we have affinity and ability.   That's NOT what we need to work on.   Second, we don't always hear what we're being told to work on. (See point number 1).  If we tell you to work on your forms (mostly upper body techniques), you might hear "well forms have kicks in them, so I better go work on my kicks".   If we give you some training advice, think about what part of that advice you liked the least.  Then, go do that. :-)

Do I put forth effort every time I’m in the gym?

Look, we all have good days and bad days.  Some days you just feel like a million bucks and the workout goes great.  On others, you just can't get the engine started.  It may be more a factor of the circumstance of the day rather than "effort".  Plus, how can we really measure effort anyway?  What we can do is make our effort purposeful.   Every time you come to the gym, I want you to do three things
  1. Get a good workout/sweat
  2. Learn something new
  3. Have Fun!
Before you "bow-in" at the entrance to the mats, set your intention on these three things, always.

Do I take advantage of every moment while I’m at [Dragon Gym]”?

Only you know how precious your time is.  Make the most of the 2-3 hours per week that you have at the gym.

Do I add to the positive vibe while training?

Martial Arts training is a very individualistic and introspective thing.  However, we do not train and cannot improve in a vacuum.   When you train at Dragon Gym you are part of a community a unique brotherood/sisterhood that many non-members don't quite "get" and transcends what class/program you are in.   The support, camaraderie and energy that one gets from the group isn't quantifiable AND you always get back more than you put in.   "A smile sent, will always return"

 

 

Sincerely,

Somnath Sikdar

Master Instructor

 

Dragon Gym

Somnath Sikdar
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Master, 6th Dan Black Belt
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