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Managing A Break In Your Martial Arts Training

Posted Sep 01 2010 5:00am
As an instructor, I have been notified by email, phone, voice mail and face-to-face when a student is taking a break in training. There have been instances when a student just stops coming to class. I will only find out later, when I run into them in the grocery store or at the mall, they are taking a break. The conversation sounds something like this....

Student: I need to take a break for a few months due to.....soccer, baseball, swimming, vacation, school work, job changes, scheduling conflicts etc.

Me: I am sorry to hear that you are taking a break but I understand. You will be missed in the dojo. If you have a free night, please feel free to come to class if you get a chance.

Student: I will definitely be back in a few months.

I smile and wish them the best.

From my experience, after the "take a break" conversation, I know there is about a 50% chance the student will return. The time set aside for karate training quickly gets absorbed into other activities or projects. One black belt who took a longer break than he expected was surprised how difficult it was to get back into training. He was concerned about forgetting material and feeling out of shape.

Last night, I had the same conversation from a different perspective. I called my tai chi instructor and told him I needed to take a break until December. I put my gym membership on hold due to work responsibilities. The conversation was the same except I was the student. It was a new perspective. As an instructor, it is never an easy conversation to hear. As a student, it was a tough phone call to make.

I do not want to be part of the 50% who does not return to training. I am planning ahead and making a list of ways to manage break in my tai chi training.

1. Keep in contact with your instructor and the other students.
2. Stop by for a class...even if it is once a month.
3. Practice on your own so you don't forget the material.
4. Keep reading and studying.
5. Set a date for your return. Don't leave it open ended.
6. Invite your training partners for an informal workout.
7. I invited my tai chi instructor to teach a guest session at our dojo.

Have you ever taken a break in training? How did you stay involved/interested? Did you return? Any ideas to add to the list?
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