How to Improve in Karate? Train every day!

As the year 2013 is winding to an end, I often get asked “how can I improve in Karate?” The answer is very simple: “perfect practice makes perfect,” as coach Vince Lombardi used to tell his players. If you are a “New Year’s resolutions” kind of person, set yourself the goal of practicing Karate every day. “Every day?” you say – that’s a lot! What I mean is not that you have a gruesome, hard-core, martial arts workout (as we have in class at the San Diego / Carmel Valley dojo) every day, but rather that you set aside some time, perhaps as little as a few minutes, to practice Karate every day. Perhaps you go for a run or walk, to work on your aerobic fitness, or perhaps you stretch for ten to fifteen minutes (after a short warm-up, please, so you don’t injure yourself!). Perhaps you lift some weights, or perform calisthenics, all to strengthen muscles that are specifically used in martial arts. Maybe you practice a Karate kata a few times. Maybe you are lucky, and have another student with whom you can practice some flow drills, ground fighting, or other two-person techniques. Maybe you spend a few minutes reading about martial arts history or philosophy. All of those are good options that don’t take a lot of time and, applied consistently, will greatly improve your martial arts.

You can also use visualization techniques to practice, in your mind, the way you want to perform martial arts. Mental visualization is a very powerful approach which had been scientifically proven to work. It is often utilized by elite level athletes. Pick a technique, a move, a Karate kata , a Tai Chi form, or a weapon form you want to improve. Next, imagine yourself performing the technique in a perfect way. The more realistic and holistic you are in forming the image, the better the results. For example, if you want to feel more comfortable in a self-defense confrontation, imaging a scary situation – its looks, sounds and smells. It may be helpful to find a model (perhaps a senior student with a similar body build to you), and imagine how they would perform the technique. Again, try to be specific and holistic. What does the technique look like? How does it feel? Think in pictures rather than in words. Visualization will help you almost as much as physical practice. And it can be done virtually anywhere! Visualization can also be combined with meditation to produce excellent results.

If you spent 15 minutes every day practicing Karate, over a year you will have spent over 90 training hours! Training a little every day also helps reinforce the concepts taught at our San Diego dojo  each week, and will make you better prepared for the next class. With proper review in between formal trainings, you will be able to go into deeper levels in your study of Karate, instead of continuing to practice at the same level.

As my friend Iain Abernethy Sensei (6th Dan, Wadu-Ryu Karate) says: “If you want to be a skilled martial artist, do what the skilled martial artists do: train each day! If you get into the habit of daily training, you will surprise yourself with how much progress you can make.” As martial artists, we always strive to improve “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle.

Consistency builds greatness!

Here’s to you becoming a great martial artist!

Karate Pinan Shodan Kata | San Diego Dojo

Brian is a life-long martial artist, athlete, and serial entrepreneur. He teaches martial arts and self defense to adult and teen students in San Diego, at the Full Potential Martial Arts dojo in Carmel Valley.

8 comments on “How to Improve in Karate? Train every day!
  1. amit says:

    motivational article, perfect for new beginning in new year.

  2. Ken D. says:

    That’s an excellent article to start the New Year off with! Excellent tips for progressing in Martial Arts and other activities within one’s life.

    It really hits home, train everyday to improve in your Martial Arts training; it sounds so logical and makes so much sense. Again, with the New Year upon us; I find this article surfacing at the best time. Now, it’s up to the student(s) to rise to the challenge.

    The nice thing about all of this, is the idea of “Progression”. It’s true, through daily practice; we will progress. Also, it’s not that hard to do something everyday; that you enjoy doing. (Wise words of wisdom, from the Instructor).

    Sounds like an excellent plan for the New Year and it’s really just a matter of making up our mind and doing it; just like we do anything else we do.

    Needless to say, I now have a better perspective on how to move forward with my Martial Arts training; as well as other things that I want to succeed in.

    Thanks again for the Words of Wisdom and Experience!

  3. HT Rush says:

    Thank you for the very informative website. I love your martial arts blog!

  4. Gary G says:

    Fantastic post, very informative. I used to train in Shito-Ryu karate for many years. I wish I lived in San Diego and could take your classes!
    Keep up the interesting martial arts blog!

  5. Max S says:

    Nice article! Please continue to carry the Okinawan Karate tradition!

  6. Guy P says:

    When you get into the habit of training in martial arts / karate every day you will start to feel healthier.

  7. Juliet L says:

    I practice Okinawan Goju-Ryu karate, and try to work out every day. Thank you for your posts!

  8. Bob F says:

    I love your website!

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