As one begins the journey in the martial arts, two of the questions often asked are:
How long to get a black belt?
How long should I practice at home?
These are EXCELLENT questions as they show a maturity and desire to learn and progress in the martial arts. Progress that we want to capitalize on and take advantage of, especially in the beginning of your martial arts journey when the capacity for growth is so high.
Let’s set things up for success! The first balancing act is setting up your life so you can attend as many classes as possible. Working out your schedule as best you can so you are available for training.
Naturally we can’t always make every class due to life responsibilities, but over time we want to attend more classes vs. missing them. If you are not in a place right now to do that, don’t stop in the martial arts, always keep going, just work on scheduling for when it does allow you to train more.
Training at home, outside of class, and on your own is also vital. Class training is for correction by your teacher and introducing more material. Training at home is for really learning the movement in the martial arts and making it a part of your everyday movement routines.
They are opposite ends of the coin, fused tightly together.
So what should you be practicing at home?
Every martial art has what is called in the Japanese martial arts the KIHON.
The kihon are the foundations of the martial arts. Ukemi, kamae, footwork, etc. all are methods to teach you how to move in the movement dynamics of your martial art.
These are not “basics” to be mastered and move on- they are never mastered, merely polished. They are the DNA of the arts, which is what allows you to eventually learn and move in the movement style and transmission of the art you study.
The BULK of your at home work should be the kihon of you art, From there work on what has been shown in your last class, as best you can for your level. Practicing the lessons and transmission of that class, so the lessons of the dojo (school) build week on week.
The capstone on this is the movements that your teacher or coach have given you to personally work on.
The movement lessons that they have assigned for you to work through the help take your training to the next personal level. Combining these three elements, plus class time, will make sure you progress in the martial arts.