All of the various martial arts have a huge drop out rate, why do so many people fall by the wayside? It used to be said in karate circles that only one person in every thousand who started the art made it to black belt. Are you the one in a thousand and if not why not?
Perhaps to answer the question of people giving up we should look at why people start a martial art in the first place.
Martial Arts films.
Since the Seventies an avalanche of action packed Kung Fu films have been the best recruiting sergeants for Dojos and Martial Arts clubs across the Western world. These films, exaggerated beyond belief, are made purely to spellbind and captivate an audience. Martial art films often sell an unrealistic fantasy to the public of what the Martial Arts are really all about. Some people originally inspired to start training by these films can make the transition from the fantasy to the reality and happily keep training. For many film goers who try a Martial Art their over inflated expectations when not for filled cause them to give up.
I want to get really fit and be a fighter.
People like the idea of killing two birds with one stone and why not? Becoming really fit and learning to fight at the same time sounds like a very good deal and it is. Of course we all know that getting fit takes persistent determination and not everyone has got this. Even for the few who do have the motivation to become significantly fitter how many of these have even considered the on going effort in staying fit?
A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.
Most styles of fighting require above average fitness levels. Students returning after a lay off often fail to regain their previous fitness. Often a fail our to stay fit comes out in sparring and once your edge has gone few will put in the work to get it back. If your feeling fatigued and the other guy is as fresh as a daisy your probably about to get the fight kicked out of you!
I want a teacher like the boy had in Karate Kid had.
This searching for a hidden knowledge under the guidance of a wise master is a natural inclination in many people. Apprenticeships under a highly experienced practitioner have been the way knowledge has been passed down through the generations.
Masters come in many forms,It could be the old fisherman who returns safely past the rocks through a stormy sea with a good catch. Maybe the master is the blacksmith who calms a maddened horse and gets it shoed when others wouldn’t try. What a master can demonstrate with apparent ease can seem to be almost magic and look well worth learning to some. Along with the particular skill will be a common sense view of life which can appear to be a special wisdom.
Common sense is a very uncommon thing.
In order to master the skill the student must face his fears before mastering the craft for himself. It could be the fear of drowning being kicked in the head by a horse or facing and fighting bullies as in The Karate Kid film, but overcoming yourself is going to be part of the deal.
Unfortunately in the money based society that we live in many commercial schools do not have the passing on of knowledge as their primary aim! Some instructors are only in it for the money and when this reveals itself disillusioned students are likely to leave.
When a particular style of fighting was kept within a clan it was often an uncle or at least a neighbour who taught the student. There was a bond, often of blood, that went deeper than a financial transaction.
Blood is thicker than water.
The martial arts teacher was a known and respected part of a closely knit community at the very least. Some long established clubs are like this today despite the economic pressures that we all face but some groups sadly are not.
I’ve tried a lot of things but Martial Arts will be the one for me!
In todays consumer society and with a stream of constant clever advertising, peoples heads are turned this way and that. People find it harder than ever to really stick at anything to the point of making it a part of themselves.
Unlike the old ways of teaching in schools children are no longer given the cane for getting low marks in a geography test as we would be in my school. This form of teaching might now seem brutal but it taught the discipline that is necessary to learn anything well.
Ninety percent of ability is stick ability.
With so much choice on offer and peoples attention span effected by the internet the dedication and focus that is needed to excel in any martial art which was always unusual is now exceptional.
I went to a class to learn how to fight but left when I got hurt.
To get a lot of continuous unnecessary injuries in a leisure activity is pointless when everyone has to get up and go to work the next day. With modern safety equipment a lot of annoying bruises are now eliminated anyway. Despite all of this to think that you can learn to fight and never get hurt is like thinking that you can learn to swim and never get wet.
Pain teaches more than brain.
Ticky Donavan, a highly respected karate coach, said in a television interview that when sparring was introduced to a crowded keen class the next week it would be almost empty. Everyone would love to be good at fighting but not everyone has what it takes. The things that we learn and never forget are often the painful lessons. The instant feedback of pain if you make a mistake is far better than an intellectual understanding.
Are you a true individual or do you prefer to be one of the crowd?
When I first took a grade in a martial art I was one of over thirty grading that particular evening. When I was a green belt there was twelve of us in the club and as a brown belt four of us remained. Only I made it to black belt from amongst the people who started at about the same time as me. With all the distractions that young people face in these modern times it’s a wonder that anyone gets to black belt. Today its become all to easy,indeed quite normal to be fickle. To get really good at anything you can’t follow the crowd, you have to do your own thing. If five of you start a judo karate or kick boxing class the other four will give up sooner rather than later, will you walk with them or carry on alone?