I’m going to keep this simple: MOST students who train during the summer advance to their next belt before or close to September. (Obviously, this isn’t a guarantee–the only thing that guarantees a test is effort, focus, consistency, and skill growth!)
So, what is it about training during the summer that is so beneficial?
Students who train over the summer do not forget their requirements. Students who take the summer off forget things. (It’s amazing how quickly the memory goes!) Martial arts is cumulative: basic skills lead to more advanced skills. Students who come back in September after a few months’ break have to go through a period of “re-learning” and re-practicing a lot of basics. We also often see old habits make a comeback after a break. All of this impacts progress. On the other hand, students who do train over the summer see a lot of benefits from staying consistent in their practice.
Students who train over the summer have only one thing to focus on. Well, maybe they have Boy Scouts or other summer activities. But the point is that they’re not in school, trying to keep a handle on a wide variety of subjects, homework, activities, etc. When students are able to focus in on 1-2 things, they make faster progress in skills. They’re able to give full attention to martial arts, without worrying about getting their homework done later.
Students who train over the summer maintain their level of fitness. All those pushups and situps are great, but when the body isn’t asked to do them, your fitness will suffer. This is not as much of a problem for lower ranks, but can hugely impact students who are at higher ranks, where the expectations for fitness are high.
Students who train over the summer learn about having a routine and sticking to it–an important Life Skill for success. Consistency is a key Life Skill: you go to school regularly, you do your homework, [in college] you plan your study time, you show up to work, you stick with something you’ve started: GET IT DONE. Why? Because when you quit, you don’t reach your goals! One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is to have a routine and stick to it. Allowing children to choose when they go to class can be problematic, as it teaches them they can do whatever they want, whenever they “feel like it.” Not a recipe for life success. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t take a break from time to time, go on vacation, etc. But we are saying that training over the summer is a BIG part of experiencing what it’s like to stick with something.
Students who train over the summer stay in a “learning mindset.” When these students return to school in the fall, their brain is already primed to continue learning. The brain, like the muscles, can get lazy, and martial arts is a great opportunity to keep your mindset open for learning and growing.
Students who train over the summer grow their brains bigger. Repeating any skill you’ve learned causes the connections in your brain to grow, widen, and thicken. Bigger pathways mean better transmission of electrical signals. Repetition makes brain connections stronger! What’s the big deal here? Well, in addition to strengthening brain function (which may work against degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s), the bigger and stronger a brain connection is, the more likely it is that a student will actually be able to perform their martial arts in a real life situation. The summer is a huge opportunity to get in repetition, strengthen the brain, and increase your chances of success in a real-life self-defense situation.
Students who train over the summer have NUF in class! Summer classes can be really NUF for students! We have summer camps, we play BINGO, we have competitions in reading, we bring in cold treats on hot days, we train with various weapons, we play games, we go outside to train…there are so many AWESOME things about NWSMA in the summer. Summer is the best time for students to develop strong social connections to other students through fun activities.