What is your mentality when you walk into a martial arts class? Do you let a hard day at work or school affect your workout (mentally)? Do you let little things distract you? Or, conversely, do you feel the energy when you walk through the dojo doors? Do you prepare yourself mentally so that you can give yourself every chance of having the best training experience possible?
The dojo is the one place where you can block yourself off from the rest of the world. You can concentrate on the “here and now”. Before every class, I tell the students to forget about their day up to that point. This is your time so you can concentrate on improving “you”. Your “hour of power”, if you will.
In saying this, not everybody should prepare in the same way. The world is full of extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are people who get their energy from others. For me, these people are easy to spot. They get to class early and chat and laugh with others. For me, this is fine, as they are drawing the energy they need from others to have a successful class themselves. They are often keen to help others. This is necessary for the more extroverted, as the more they can help and provide service, the more they are empowering themselves (as well as the people they are helping). It is a win-win for both sides.
The introverts may act a little differently. They may find a quieter place, they may start stretching out. They are drawing their energy from within themselves. Again, this is necessary for the introverts, as they need to dial in to their personal energy source to have a great class. And have a great class they do! The introverts are still helpful and inspirational to the other students. They must internally master the movements required, which allows them to effectively help others.
The same rules also apply to children. Our children’s classes are quite big, especially on Saturday’s. Some children walk straight in and embrace the big group. They thrive in the energy that a big group brings and they go on to have a great workout. On the flip side, there are some children who are really quiet (even fearful) when they first start class. These children are naturally more introverted. If the more naturally introverted children are able to stick with it, they often go on to their Black Belts, as they learn to harness their fear and use the energy from within themselves.
Personally, I feel I am more on the introverted side. In the classes where I train (not teach), I actually get really nervous about an hour out. I know how hard I am going to push myself and how much I will hurt. No one likes hurt, and hence the nervousness. My antidote for nervousness is movement. I will start by doing some dynamic stretching before class. I will then bounce up and down on the spot, or practice some footwork. I will then go through my Multiple Defence’s (kata or forms), as this is my way of familiarising myself again with the dojo. I will keep doing this until class starts, as a form of dialling into the workout. I even embrace the 5 minute warm up stretch, as it is a way of getting myself into the routine. Tennis players bounce balls in the same way before serving. Cricket players tap their bat on the ground in the same way before facing a delivery. You should revert back to natural routines before facing stressful situations. It helps you get mentally ready.
There is no right or wrong way of getting mentally ready for a martial arts class. It is all up to you as the individual. However, once you know the best way for you, ensure that you follow your routine before and during every class. This is necessary to get the very best out of yourself. If you can do it for your martial arts class, you can learn to do the right mental preparation for other areas of your life, business or schooling.