Martial Arts

4 Tips to Bust Out of a Training Rut

Ever get stuck on a technique or a drill? I do. Ever feel like you’re just not getting better? Well, you might be in a rut. These tips can help you revive your training.


1.) Quit multi-tasking

Each art has so many parts to learn, to polish, and to perfect. Often we’re learning more than one thing at a time. For example, we could be learning jab, cross, hook, and upper cut. If we’re struggling with our hooks, we should drop the other three punches and focus on the hooks. Multi-tasking divides our attention and short term memory. It’s possible that the details of each move can blend into the other moves. Take the time to focus on your rut, and when you decide to train it, separate it from your other studies.

2.) Break it down to component parts


This is where you take the move and subdivide it into the individual components. To follow with the hook example, we could separate the hook out into transition from guard, arm placement, hip swivel, weight transfer, footwork, etc. This dissection of each mechanic allows you to put the technique under a microscope, and it lets you step through the technique bit by bit to determine where you’re getting stuck. Another example could be an eight count striking drill. Break the drill down into each strike, and work on the first strike. As you get the first movement down, add in the second. For as many reps as needed, work just parts one and two. Then add in the next strike and the next, one at a time until you’re working on the full pattern. This build towards the final product is another way to avoid multi-tasking. By starting with part one and learning it fully, you can then move onto part two without having to make sure everything in part one is okay.

3.) Talk out each part as you do the move

Say it

I do mean say out loud each movement as you perform it. This is a goofy way to train and feels funny, but it forces you to be mindful of what you are doing. Speaking as you perform means you have to be in the moment at each point. By saying it out loud, your focus changes from the mechanics to the words. If we return to the eight count pattern, you would say the whole thing each strike at a time.

4.) Shelve it for a few weeks or even months

Shelve it

If you’ve gotten this far, it’s potentially a mental block that is holding you back. Some people will push through until they’ve succeeded. But I’ve learned that shelving my rut and focusing on something else for time like a different drill, I can return to the rut later with a fresh mindset. If I’m stuck writing, I’ll go do something mindless, like wash the dishes or take a shower. With my motor skills focused on a different task, my creative mind can churn on the writing. If I’m still stuck, I shelve the whole thing. Let me repeat, the whole thing, not just the paragraph on which I’m working. Then, I’ll come back later and try it again. Shelving the martial arts technique or drill that is giving you trouble might be difficult if your instructor is focused on it. What I recommend here is to focus on helping your training partner, rather than on your own progression. Now, this does not mean shelve your martial arts training altogether. Focus on other areas of your art; return to previous training, or move onto something new. In the future, you can come back to it with a clean slate.

How do you renew your training when you find yourself in a rut?


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