The training schedule and classes at Yee’s Hung Ga Kung Fu Academy are now back in full swing for 2017. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned warrior, it can sometimes feel difficult to keep yourself motivated, especially with the cold weather, dark nights, the hectic partying over the festive period taking its toll on the body. It can be a bit of a slog getting yourself back into a routine and keeping that routine going. If one of your New Years Resolutions is to get fit and healthy, like many other people, you might be thinking about attending one of our classes. If you are serious about taking it past the thinking stage and really want to attend, (obviously we would highly recommend that you do and you would be most welcome.) what steps can you take to ensure that your first class isn’t also your last? What if even your best intentions aren’t good enough and you run out of steam before you even get up and running? Well we’re not going to lie to you, there’s no magic wand. You still have to actually make it to class (on time!!) and you still have to do the work but here’s our top 10 hints & tips on keeping yourself keeping going.
#1. Patience is a virtue.
It takes time, don’t be put off if you don’t see results straight away. Looks can be deceiving. You may not see results for a while, especially if you are just starting out. It takes time to learn and to build muscle memory. You may hear claims that you can be a master in a short time, “Learn Kung Fu in 3 Months,” “Become a master in only 2 weeks.” There are some things that you can learn and use straight away but to be a master you first need to learn and that can take time, patience and lots of practice.
Just because you’re not seeing results it doesn’t mean that you are not getting any. You are better today than you were yesterday, try to remember that. Your brain will get better at sending messages to your body and your body will get better at receiving and understanding them. You will actually be able to activate a higher percentage of your muscle fibers, commonly referred to as neuromuscular efficiency. Your coordination will improve, reflexes start to become faster, your breathing and focus will increase. It is a slow process because you are bound by your body’s limitations, just be patient. Don’t look in the mirror after two weeks and wonder why you’re not looking like Bruce Lee or why you’re not managing to quite get the results that you are looking for. Be patient and put in the work, the results will come.
#2. Enjoy the journey.
Try not to think of your goals as the soul purpose for training, that’s just a destination. Enjoy the process and get excited about what you are learning. If you enjoy what you are doing you are more likely to keep it up. Get excited. You have to want to do it. If you force yourself, it could have negative results. Instead of looking negatively at things that you are not so good at or find difficult, try and turn your thinking around. Be positive about it and see if you can work at those things, bit by bit, to get better at them. Chip away a little bit every day and they will soon become less of a problem.
#3. Don’t rush!
Arrive early, give yourself time. If you leave things to the last minute it gives your mind one more excuse to back out of it. If you have plenty time and are well prepared then you are less likely to change your mind at the last minute. Make sure you have your kit ready the day before. Write a list of all the things that you need to take with you and make sure you check your list every time you get yourself ready. Plan your trip, where you’re going to park the car, how long will it take you to get there? Allow extra time in case of slow traffic or events beyond your control. If you think ahead and plan in advance you will put yourself in the right frame of mind and it will give you less excuses to not go through with it.
#4. Are you keeping track?
Keeping records can help you to remember what you have learned. What did you get out of class today? Did you just go through the motions or did you pick something up? Were there any “light-bulb moments?” Keeping a training diary can help you to remember information and focus on learning. It can also help you to look back and see how far you have come in your training. You can also see what went wrong, should you get injured, and learn from any mistakes.
If you can only make it to the occasional class, it is down to you to make the effort to practice between those classes. Your Sifu will give you advice on what and how to practice. If you just practice bits of what you remember, it may be that you are not paying attention to the right things or worse, practicing them the wrong way. You should know it inside out and back to front.
#5. Stick to a plan
Remove the randomness from your training. This is the best way to improve your speed, strength, focus, body weight…. any of your goals in fact. For a beginner it can be tempting to try out all the different classes that are available to you at Yee’s but it is better to pick one or two which you can definitely, regularly make, every week. Stick to them and make them part of your routine. When you feel more confident in what you have learned and you have time available to try out the other classes, then give them a go. Too much, too soon is a recipe for failure.
#6. Do it for yourself.
Do it for yourself, not because of anyone else. Come with friends but don’t stay at home just because they decided that they couldn’t be bothered. Their excuses will turn into your excuses. You must do it because you want to do it for yourself. Similarly, try not to compare yourself to others. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses so whilst you might not be as good as the one you are comparing yourself to, they might not be as good as you at other things. They may also be further ahead in their training or have practiced more or many other reasons. If you practice, you will become better. If you practice a lot, you will become a lot better. Sometimes it takes longer for some people so just relax and enjoy the ride.
#7. Prevention is better than cure.
Be sensible about how you train. An injury can set you back months, perhaps even years. It may stop you training altogether. It is important in the beginning to take things slowly until your body gets used to it. If you push too hard, you can injure yourself. Ensure that your body is warmed up gently and muscles are stretched before you do your main practice. You will have to do this every time and you will have to factor the time it takes into your practice. Similarly, a cool down routine can help to bring your body back to normal. Again gentle stretching can be useful. After your training your muscle fibers will be warmed up and loose. The sudden shock from the cold outside, especially in the North of Scotland, can cause them to constrict. Problems may result from over tension such as muscular cramps and pain, twisting and knotting of the muscle fibers. Be sensible and have an extra layer of clothing to put on before you head out into the cold. Our training hoodies are perfect for this purpose.
#8. If you don’t make time, you’ll never have time.
You need to factor time into your daily routine or weekly schedule. If you don’t have one, make one! Fit it into your lifestyle. It is difficult juggling everything in your life but the bottom line is that if you don’t do it, then you won’t do it. Spare time can seem to be a rarity in modern life and if you really want to do something, you will have to make the effort to make it happen. With kung fu this means making time to practice. In the same way though, if you do nothing but practice then you will not have time for anything or anyone else so you need to find a balance. Make it happen!!
#9. Rise to the challenge!
Treat it like a test. Everything that you find hard is an obstacle to you becoming better and achieving your goals. If you clear the obstacle then you are one step closer. If you don’t quite make it then it’s no big deal, just try again. It may take you many attempts. Many, many, many attempts in fact. This is the challenge that you face. Give up, find an easier way or just keep chipping away until you get it. The nature of kung fu means that you kind of do all 3. You try until you get it, you understand the movement. You then find an economy in the movement, simplify it, make it easy. Then, when you get it, you leave it. It’s there now until you need it. You just need to maintain it. Great skill obtained through hard practice.
#10. Don’t beat yourself up
You’ve all seen the motivational memes on social media, “Failure is not an option!” “Winners never quit!” ” You haven’t failed until you quit trying!”
Jeezzz….. Give yourself a break, we are only human. Circumstances might mean that you have to put things aside for a while. You might have to give yourself some time to focus on other areas of your life. Family, work, friends, commitments. You know what that is? That’s life! (That’s what people say, You’re riding high in April, Shot down in May) It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. If you falter or can’t remember or didn’t practice or took the day off, it doesn’t matter. Everyone needs a break. In fact it is advisable to take a break every once in a while. “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy!” Have you never seen ‘The Shining’ before?!? It only becomes a problem if you let it. You gave it a shot, you turned up for class and you trained really hard. That’s more than a lot of people ever do. A lot of people never get further than giving it a whimsical thought. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to move like that?” “I wish I was as strong or graceful as that?” But you actually made the effort. That is amazing in itself. (a round of applause please!) If you need a breather, that’s not failing, that’s being realistic. Just don’t let it get to you. Get back in the saddle again and own it!! Take your training to the next level and achieve what you set out to do.
See you in class…