Happy training requires gratitude and realistic expectations
I made a video the other day on my golden period of training, and how I may reflect on these days as another golden time. But I’m training much less, not as hard, and of course I’m older, so what makes me think this?
Part of it is a shift in expectation–I’m the primary caretaker of our daughter, we can’t afford a lot of extra lessons, and my body just can’t take 2-3 hours a day anymore. So I let it go and take what I can get. This week for example, I won’t make any formal classes, but will still get some training in. Mildly injured and weaning myself off caffeine, my only expectation is one of effort, not results or performance, or I’ll just be laid up longer.
More importantly, I realized you can’t beat yourself over it or you won’t have happy training, which can cause you to not train at all or make your day worse rather than better. Not just satisfaction with how you hit the pads and so on, but a lack of jealousy and embarrassment over watching the new batch overtake you who are faster, better, and maybe are able to now take you apart even in timing sparring.
Some of us are sold the idea that martial arts is an ever-increasing trajectory. That may be true in regards to knowledge (which also changes as the arts progress, allowing younger more talented minds to leapfrog us) but it certainly doesn’t apply to the physical expression of the art. It’s the exception not the rule that a 60-year old can still do a double tornado kick, and as inspiring as that may be, don’t let it become demotivating and ruin happy training.
I’m also more grateful than in my younger days. With my old teacher gone, discovering other places to train at, such as Michigan Kickboxing Academy and MKG Detroit, I count as a blessing. Both Peter and Kurt work hard to provide programs people want and without them there would be much less in the area.
Finally, I’m having a lot of fun. The drive to improve is still there, but it has taken on a different tenor, more just to provide direction and motivation. People I encounter are happy to be training, I get to nerd out and explore ideas without any urgent need for it to ‘work’, and I’m making new friends with my YouTube project, people who are friendly and truly enjoy martial arts, not the arms-crossed, “who are you?” groups that not only I, but quite frankly no one, needs in their life.
It’s not only the fun, but finding it where I didn’t expect to, that makes it easy to be grateful, and hence happy training.