Motivating Yourself to Get Off the Couch and Get to Work

man punching karate punch
man punching karate punch

The hardest part of training in karate or any martial art from home isn’t the lack of a dojo to train in or a sensei to teach you. It’s motivating yourself to get off the couch and get to work.

How often does the time come for your appointed workout hour and you say to yourself, “I just don’t feel like it today?”

Some weeks it seems like it’s every day that I have to force myself to warm up and do something, anything just to keep the blood moving and my training improving.

Why is that important?

It’s a matter of habit. Good habits keep you moving forward. Bad habits keep you from it. Missing practice for any reason was one of those bad habits.

For me, it took two workouts a week just to stay where I was, and a third one to move get better. It was probably Sensei Coleman who drubbed that into me, but it quickly became something I passed on to my own students.

Maybe that’s because we always had class three times a week. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening and every Saturday morning (Sunday evening in college) we practiced, dragging my sorry rear to the dojo (technically speaking, it was usually trained in a school meeting room or auditorium when I couldn’t get up to the main dojo in Toledo). And whether it was as the dutiful white belt I started as, or the black belt and beyond I became, that routine became part of me.

Not that my training ended there. Off days were filled with running and lifting weights, and sometimes even working on techniques and combinations I wanted to improve. But always I remained committed to my three days a week of classes, whether I was a student or the instructor.

Until life changed and it all ended. Then I was left wanting, with each training day coming and going without any practice and me getting fat and lazy. It was as if I had set a new habit I didn’t want to break.

If I was going to keep my passion burning for martial arts, I had to do something about it. So do you — if you want it enough.

Because when you train alone at home, there’s no one to teach you or push you, much less a group of friends to share the experience with at class. Skills deteriorate. Conditioning and flexibility suffer. Memory of the little things fades. Worse yet, you fail to improve.

After all, it’s that hunger to get better that drives us onward in karate. It makes us want it, not just to improve but to just DO IT. For it’s the doing that brings the joy that keeps us coming back for more.

At home that doing can become a chore, testing your will power to overcome your own inner demons that whisper in your ear, “Not today.”

Dealing with this lack of motivation then becomes the biggest issue for most home workout warriors.

My recommendation to all my students, online or in dojo, is to make sure you train at least three days a week. Set the habit and keep it.

But training at home isn’t like in the dojo. I almost never do a full class with extensive warm ups, stretching and basics before ever getting to the meat of kata, kumite or combinations. As for meditation, well, you get the picture.

Instead, I have taken an approach that it’s more important to DO SOMETHING on each of those days (and more when I get the urge) than to let it pass and pick it up next time. Whether that something is meditating, stretching, doing qigong, working on a kata or whatever, it’s the setting of my intention and carrying it out that matters most.

For all training starts there, getting the mind to rule the body, especially when it doesn’t want to be ruled. And the smallest effort carries forward that intention, which inevitably leads to me doing more and more in that session than the “something” that got me started.

So this is key. Set your intention for a regular schedule and stick to it. Do something. Don’t allow yourself to get lazy with your training. Demand more of yourself, and the results will come over time.

Maybe those results won’t be as extensive as you’d get in a dojo. But maybe they will. We’ve got a lot of material to keep you interested and growing in the Digital Dojo, if you can master that one little thing about yourself — getting off the couch.

If karate’s in your blood, or any other martial art for that matter, honor that part of yourself and just do it.

Happy kiais.


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