As the holidays are winding down and the New Year rolls around, here are ten martial arts tips to give you a jump-start on the New Year by helping boost your energy, increase your fitness level, improve your self-defense skills and sharpen your martial arts resolve:
Tip 1: Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Be grateful! There are many things to be thankful about. Focusing on the positive things in your life has been scientifically shown to strengthen your immune system, and confer a host of other physical and mental benefits.
To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, find three things each day for which you are grateful, and mentally (or verbally) give thanks for those things.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” – Zig Ziglar
Tip 2: Take Action!
Being a martial artist is about taking action. As martial artists, we are intolerant to our own use of the terms “I can’t” and “I won’t.” It is within your power to find reasons why you can! Don’t sabotage your own dreams!
You can start by writing down what you want to achieve in the year ahead, as well as any excuses you used in the past that prevented you from reaching those goals. Make a vow to ignore the excuses, to take action, and to make your goals happen!
“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Tip 3: Take Care of Yourself!
Life is busy, and it is a good bet that it will not get any less busy anytime soon. It is up to you to prioritize your needs, and make sure you carve time to take care of yourself: for training and exercise, for eating and nourishing properly, and for rest.
Think about taking care of yourself as a good investment. By taking care of yourself you will be reaping dividends and giving yourself a tremendous energy boost. This will allow you to be all the more effective in the rest of your day. A worthwhile investment indeed!
Some ways of taking care of yourself are daily exercise, regular martial arts training, and enjoying your favorite downtime activity, be it reading, taking a walk on the beach or anything else.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn
Tip 4: Follow your Passion
Willpower is powerful. Self-discipline and self-control are important tools that allow us to exert our will over the inhibitions of our body and mind. Certainly, with martial arts training we can increase our willpower and self-discipline. Still, willpower should be used sparingly. Finding the passion in your life allows you to enjoy what you are doing, without having to force yourself to do it. Where passion exists, self-discipline is automatic.
“Once something is a passion, the motivation is there.” – Michael Schumacher
Tip 5: Take advantage of Good Habits and Momentum
Energy creates more energy. Tapping into this positive cycle helps achieving your goals easy. Develop good habits that increase your energy, and momentum will take care of the rest. It is OK to rely on will power from time to time, to carry you through troughs, but recognize that willpower can decline, especially if you are tired. A good habit, on the other hand, creates endless momentum.
If you had a long day, and can’t decide whether to show up to training today, most of the time the answer is “just do it!” The act of showing up to class will give you the energy to proceed. Once you are on track, you will have momentum to stay the course.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun
Tip 6: Meditate
Meditation helps reduce stress and focus the mind. Just five to ten minutes of daily meditation can have a tremendously positive effect on your ability to achieve your goals. Meditation practice brings calm, relaxation and focus to your body and mind.
I will bet that with just two weeks of daily mediation practice, you will notice tremendous improvement in your ability to focus and perform throughout your day. So carve out a few minutes for meditation today! You can practice any form of meditation that we review in our martial arts class: standing, sitting, lying down, or moving meditation. Have questions? Just ask!
“If you’re studying for an exam you’re not thinking about the results. If you’re always worried about the results, you can’t study a lot. So to be engaged and detached from the outcome is excellent. Excellence is behavior. I mean, isn’t that what martial arts is about? And that’s what meditation is about, that’s what, in many ways, sports are about.” – Deepak Chopra
Tip 7: Don’t Worry
Worrying deprives us of energy. Most worries and fears never manifest. Instead of worrying consider the circumstances, make plans and take action. Break the downward spiral created by dwelling on worries.
Martial artists follow the mantra: I do not worry about the past or the future. I focus my attention on the present moment, for this is where my life exists.
If stopping worrying is too difficult, vow to worry less.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom
Tip 8: Partner Up
There are surprising benefits for working toward a goal together. The mere presence of someone else affects your ability to do an activity. It also helps massively increase your commitment level. Of course, partner work is an integral part of martial arts training. With our partner we raise our game and challenge ourselves both physically and mentally. Furthermore, partners five us support and encouragement.
“I’m lucky to be part of a team who help to make me look good, and they deserve as much of the credit for my success as I do for the hard work we have all put in on the training ground.” – Lionel Messi
Tip 9: Strengthen your Core
Your core muscles are your central pillar of strength. They are responsible for stabilizing your body, so you can generation power.
We know that in martial arts, as well as in the healing arts of yoga and qigong that the core is central to power generation. A strong core is also important to a healthy and pain-free back. Major core muscles include the pelvic floor, the different abdominis and oblique muscles, the erector spinae, and the diaphragm. Other core muscles are the gluteus, trapezius and latissimus muscles (glutes, lats and traps).
As you can see, strengthening your core means more than just sit-ups. Find good exercise such as the ones we perform at training, to cultivate both strength and proper activation of your core.
“My strength comes from the abdomen. It is the center of gravity, and the source of real power.” – Bruce Lee
Tip 10: When in doubt – show up and train!
Life is more like a marathon than a 100 meter dash. Learning and change come from persistence over time. As the old raffle drawing saying goes: “you must be present to win.” When in doubt, persist. Shut up and train! Continue training and working, and your rewards will manifest.
“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Here to a great year, and to you meeting and exceeding your goals in the New Year!
See you at training!