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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top 5 reasons why martial arts students skip out on class....

(image courtesy of Tyler Roberts &

In our busy lives, its perfectly okay to miss class every so often....i'm not here to bash on students who miss class due to legitimate reasons. Instead, I'd like to pull the rug out from under the excuses and justifications. As martial arts instructors, we know that life's responsibilities sometimes interfere with our desires to pursue our interests, and we'd like to be understanding of that. However sometimes, skipping out on class has nothing to do with prior engagements or appointments, but rather, *lack of motivation*.

Now, this is based on the assumption that one's schedule does indeed fit their martial arts classes.

1) Found a boyfriend/girlfriend, or broke up with a boyfriend/girlfriend: I once had a gal call me and say "I feel awful, my boyfriend broke up with me, so I won't be in class today". That's fine....we all have to go through the grieving process. But for 8 months?

When people find a new significant other, I find their class attendance start to dwindle. Distracted by the prospect of being around the object of their affections. Distracted by what they'd much rather do in the evening rather than practice forms or self defense. :-)

If martial arts are indeed important, let your new boyfriend or girlfriend know about it. Spend time with them and spend time with your chosen art form. And...don't spoil the wonderous experience of new love by hanging out with each 24-7 for the first 3 months. Things will get old a little quicker, by the way!

2) Money is the issue here....Many times (in my experience anyway), when people are having money problems, they just stop coming to class. Why don't these people come up to me and explain the situation? Just be up front, and say "Ya know, I can't afford classes right now". If you really want to keep coming, I'll figure out something....a discount, suspend your tuition....I'll figure out something so you don't have to worry about money but still gain the benefits of martial arts. Don't think I'll judge you.

3) My parents say I can't come to class anymore. Um....I need to talk to your parents, and we should set up an exit interview. I once had a set of brothers tell their parents they were going to martial arts class, when in reality, for 3 months or so, they would take the cash that the parents would give them to pay class tuition, spend it frivolously, and skip out of class so they could skateboard or bmx bike with their friends. After 2 months of no tuition and $40 in late fees, I contacted the parents. The parents believed their kids were walking to class as they always did, and I got the "we can't come to class anymore" excuse. What were these kids thinking....that we wouldn't find out??? Parents....if you'd like your child to stop classes, I need to talk to YOU, not the child. And also...please be upfront with me. If Johnny didn't like the fact we don't play as many games as the younger kids class, I'd like to know.

4) The "pull of the couch" syndrome: You get home after work, have a little dinner, sit on the couch....and that's it. The couch pulls you in. You become stuck in the couch. You say "This is soooo comfy, and I'm sooo tired. I won't hurt to miss out on *one* class, will it??"

One class turns to two. Two turns in to four, and so one until your teacher and classmates don't see you for 3 months. The truth is, for the first few times you miss class, you feel that guilty pang, saying to yourself "I'll go to class on Wednesday". Wednesday comes, but the pull of the couch doesn't know what day it is, nor does the couch care. The longer you skip class, the easier it becomes to not attend. You hope the teacher and classmates will forget you haven't been around. In the back of your mind, you hope your teacher or studio manager doesn't call you....but on the other hand you don't call them either. No contact is so much easier, isn't it??

5) Since I've been away for awhile, I won't show up so I don't hold back the class. When I hear that, I really hear "I don't want to show back up and have my former same-ranked classmates out-rank me". I hear "I don't remember much of my requirements, and I don't want to work on them again to get back to my current rank". I hear "What if people judge me?" I hear time and time again "I don't want to hold back the class".

Well, the class won't be held back.....your attitude, however, will indeed hold YOU back.


The next time you skip out on class "just this once".....think about the reason you joined martial arts in the first place. Was it for fitness? Weight loss? Discipline? Self protection? Then think "Am I receiving these benefits?". Then think "I'll miss out on those benefits today if I skip out for no good reason."

The above reasons are just fancy ways to describe a lack of motivation. Not necessarily a lack of wanting to workout. Many times people will "drag" themselves to class knowing it will be good for them....and they leave refreshed, happy, and thankful they came to class. It is getting past that hump of non-motivation. Its getting off that couch. Its putting down the video game controller. Its spending only 90 minutes away from your new boyfriend or girlfriend . That couch, video game or new flame arent going anywhere for 90 minutes! Why spend so much more energy trying to justify your lack of motivation? Is it because if you find the right justification, it won't make you look bad or lazy? work so hard to keep a reputation when it would take less effort to get to's beyond me how some individuals can do that.

Now get to class! :-)

Fellow martial artists...Raise your hand if you've been very familiar with lack of motivation. *raises own hand*. If so, what got you motivated to get to class that day? What other things about martial arts motivate you??


Jordan Keats said...

*raises own hand*

Whenever I feel any doubt about going to practice, I take it as a message that I need to go practice. If I am feeling lazy, I forget how energizing practice can be. Thank you for addressing this issue,


Stacy said...

See you on Tuesday, Sifu! Thanks for the kick in the butt!

Restita, Seattle Wushu Center said...

@Jordan: Yup, there have been evenings where I didn't want to go to class...the couch and the mesmerizing TV were sometimes too much of a distraction. Then I'd have to remind myself that it was only a 20 minute drive, and that there are probably at least 2 other classmates that dragged their butt out of the house to feel energized and learn some cool things as well. I didn't feel so alone after I did ask a few of my classmates this during dinner after class. All the dinner mates raised their hands!

@Stacy: you and Jerry fall into the "life happens" just bought a new house, time and finances are tight. But, when you get the time, 90 minutes of feel-good-sweat-kick butt workout always makes things better, eh?

Zen said...

ha, great post

~axe said...

*raises hand*
but..The fact that my two kids also attend MA is all the motivation i need. Trying to set an example that 'if you commit to something you see it through!'
..not to mention the education and the sweat is down right good for all of us!
Great post!