You won’t get good training 2 hours a week, so time to re-calibrate expectations
Shit, did I just break my rule about over-promising headlines?
If you’re casually training MMA and are only able to make it in twice a week for an hour, what is that, an hour of Muay Thai and an hour of BJJ?
You’ll never sustain gains, so how do we develop a plan to deliver a satisfying result to our practice when we have time constraints?
First of all, are we talking 2 hours of class time or total training?
If fitness can be moved to solo training, running, lifting, or something done on your own time, that allows you to devote class time to skill development. If you only have 2 hours including fitness, it’s going to be a slow journey, but do not sacrifice fitness!
Also, if you can devote just 10 minutes a day to solo reps (especially the striking arts) you can show up next week feeling like you’ve actually progressed and not reset.
Are you experienced?
There’s a huge difference between building skill and maintaining skill. Having more than a passing familiarity with the arts I’m interested in allows me to casually work on whatever I feel like on any given day, but even so, there’s no illusion that I’m currently highly functional in any of it; just capable enough to learn and have fun. In fact part of why I started my YouTube channel was to force me to get out there and train more. And anyone who saw me in my first return to BJJ last week can attest some skills diminish quickly.
If you are experienced, you must increase the challenge of the drills so you’re always improving, even iwhen working with a beginner. A lot of my content if focused on this subject, because we lose too many intermediate students to lack of challenge or improvement. Make impact training more technical and you can build skill with your fitness. Thai pad Tuesday provides a lot of content for this.
If you’re learning these skills and have no frame of reference to quickly absorb the information, never mind retention, but understanding will be a huge problem even if you take great notes (You take notes, right?) You need to self-regulate. If class covers 5 techniques, maybe just work on the first two.
Are you athletic?
Similarly, there’s a big difference between transferring attributes from other disciplines and having no martial athleticism to start with.
Good friend of the channel Kurt Cornwell commented that he loved training people with experience in other arts. That way they have all the excitement of a new student, but you have something to hit the ground running with.
Even a dancer, wrestler, or football player has a huge advantage over someone who’s primary interface with sports is through a PS4 or ESPN. Not to disparage the latter, just acknowledge that it should inform our expectations, even when you have more time to commit.
If you answered no to any of the above, you may have to isolate arts one at a time when you don’t have sufficient time to commit
- This allows it to really get into your system, not confuse your mind, and see some progress, which will motivate you to train even more diligently.
- If your school offers many options, spend some time trying each class to determine which best suits who you are today, then pick one.
- Consider how the particular teacher, schedule, and available training partners suit you. It may be a great class but shitty training partners make it a slog.
- After focusing on one you may then rotate to another art. If you’re starting from 0, don’t start with less than a 3 month investment. 6-12 months is better.
- In general, start with something athletic like BJJ or kickboxing, unless your kali or traditional program is particularly good at conditioning and building athleticism. You have to learn how to move athletically as all martial arts is basically movement
- If you need to combine fitness with class, lower the number of techniques and just drill them out, ramping up speed and intensity until you’re going full tilt
- If there are any arts you like that are heavy into forms, consider learning those to practice solo while you pursue another art. Pop in for spot checks and when you are able to put that into your rotation you’ll feel much more comfortable. Wing chun, kali, and traditional arts are well suited for this.
- If you’re interested in kali, put some solo time in swinging the stick. Something you can do on your own even if you’re learning hopkido in class. Without a viscous angle 1 your kali doesn’t work–this is often neglected even by people who practice the art.
In the end, you need to take a look at why you’re training and what ‘good’ means to you. (Check out Kombat Arts blog for some posts on this) If you can only be training 2 hours a week, this is a de facto minor hobby, even if you’re passionate about it. So aside from solo training, how do you make the most of your time?
The key is focus. How many people sleepwalk or joke through class because it’s more habit and stress relief than anything? You have to compress all that energy into your 2 hours, pay attention to every detail to carry it with you for your solo work. By the way, if most of your class is not as intense, you have to remember to not be the asshole that stops everyone else from having fun.
More than being good, you have to be having fun. There’s no point in training if you’re not having fun, and if you have unrealistic goals, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Keep moving forwards, and focus and fun are the only ways to sustain improvement.
Please write in with your own stories on how you developed your art and overcame your constraints!