6 Ways to Martial Arts Success


black belts
What happens in black belt class, stays in black belt class… 😛

Many people join martial arts looking for success. Sometimes they want to succeed at developing character, or at school. Sometimes they want to succeed at tournaments. Sometimes they want to make it to black belt.

But a lot of people quit before they reach their goal. I’ve heard masters say 1 in 100 makes it to black belt. (Side note–let’s change this! Not by making it easier, but by making ourselves better instructors, better leaders, better motivators). 

We instructors spend a lot of time thinking about why people quit. While there’s certainly many answers to that, I’d rather not dwell on it. Instead, I’ve come up with a list of attitudes–ways of thinking–that I think will help martial artists of ANY style.

If you can find these within yourself, then you have the keys to success. So get out there and do it! (and click “more” for the rest of the article!!)

  • #1. Be consistent.


Whether it’s your attendance or your performance, consistency is HUGE for martial arts success.

Attendance is a big one. The less often you come to class, your body becomes unused to exercise. Then, coming to class hurts. Pain = less motivation. It’s a vicious cycle. Not to mention, low attendance leads to forgetfulness. Forgetting forms is generally not the path to success in martial arts!

Sempai David and Sempai Jasmine doing Matsuhiga no Sai in the demo.
Sempai David and Sempai Jasmine doing Matsuhiga no Sai in the demo.

Performance consistency is important too. We like to see students getting better, consistently performing with full effort, intention, and their best technique. By performing well, you show us your desire to get better.

  • #2. Be passionate.

The key to being a long-term martial artist is never getting bored. If you love doing side kick, even after 20 years of doing side kick, you are a martial artist.

Like what you do and you’ll keep doing it. Nuff said.

  • #3 Be detailed.

The difference between a black belt kick and a white belt kick is all in the details. Details of structure and technique are vital to power and injury prevention.


Pay attention to those verbal notes your instructor gives you! (And think about starting a training journal to keep track of everything).

Nice ready stances!
Nice ready stances!
  • #4. Be able to act on criticism.

Being able to accept criticism is a whole skill in and of itself. It’s hard to admit that other people might be right about us being not so good at something. We’re human.

But when you can move past acceptance to USE of critique, then you’re actively making yourself better. And that IS martial arts.

  • #5. Be curious.

Ask questions. Seek answers. Develop your own opinions. Think of ways to make your art better.

The possibilities are endless. Don’t hesitate to explore them!

  • #6. Be patient & persistent.

Progress can be slow, especially for adult students. Accept it, accept what your body gives you, and keep going. Don’t let slow progress take away from your passion!

Sometimes, to be successful in martial arts, you need to actively improve yourself. But at some point, you will need to let the martial arts change you. That takes a tremendous amount of repetition and patience with yourself.

Pile o' belts.
Pile o’ belts.

Sometimes, the problem is external. Scheduling, timing, money, atmosphere & fellow students–these can all contribute to a decision to quit.

Most of the time, the real problem is internal. (At least in my experience).

If you’re thinking about quitting, examine your attitude towards martial arts. Do you embody these 6 attitudes?

Make a change–maybe it will change your outlook.

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