Enjoying your training – Part 2

Last week I looked at the benefit of being happy when you’re training
or as one commenter expressed it: “Always train with a feeling of
pleasurable exhilaration.” Now lets take a look at a few reasons that
get in the way of people enjoying their training:
Disconnect from Training or Training Environment
I figured I’d tackle this one first as it seems like it would be the
most easily identified. You might not be enjoying yourself because the
goals of your trainer or training environment don’t align with your
own. You may be unsuited to your peers or the teacher, or unsuited to
the art itself, etc. If this was your feeling from the outset, then
move on. Find something that you do enjoy. However if this is a new
experience and it has taken over from a feeling of enjoyment that you
once had, then it’s definitely worth investigating further before
making any big decisions. Just like a personal relationship, great
training relationships can’t survive on that romantic first blush
forever (I wrote about this a few months ago here).
You need to feed and build your relationship from both sides for it to
be as rewarding as it can be long-term and it’s going to have its ups
and downs. Perhaps you simply need to contribute back to your training
in some way, or perhaps one of these other reasons is in your way…
Training with Ego
Bringing in an expectation of what you ‘should’ be able to do,
comparing yourself to other practitioners, comparing yourself to other
training days (“I could do this before my injury!”). We can all get
caught into this and it robs us of the joy of learning, the joy of
physical engagement, of competition, and all the other good stuff that
comes from martial arts. If you feel this creeping in, identify it,
name it, and leave it at the door. Change your focus in your training
to something where your ego does not have as much hold. If you’re
getting caught up in ego while you’re competing with someone, decide
instead to work on executing a particular technique rather than
winning. Change the nature of what you’re practicing – switch
exercises, change focus, explore something new. The encroachment of
ego can often be a sign of being caught in a mental or learning rut.
Placing Responsibility Elsewhere
The most common reason that people struggle with contentment in their
training or their lives in general is that they put the responsibility
for it on others. No one is responsible for your enjoyment of your
training outside of you. Though your training partners and
instructors might make the job of enjoying yourself easier or harder,
you truly have all the power in this regard. Taking responsibility for
your training comes in several forms:
1. You can simply decide to enjoy yourself. The most important thing
is to relax. Enjoy the moment of your training. Let go of your past
successes. Let go of the fact that your partner just isn’t doing the
drill right. Let go of your own expectation and mindfully return to
what brought you into your martial practice in the first place.
2. Customize your training. Your instructor and your training partners
can only do so much to suit your training needs and learning style. If
you can harness how you learn the sky is the limit for how much you
can get out of your practice. When I first realized that I learned
best through ‘doing’ (rather than seeing or hearing) and from
repetition of fundamental components of a technique before jumping to
the end goal (the arm movement on its own before combining the leg and
body movement) I suddenly had such power over my learning — if I
harnessed it. Now when I train in an activity I ask my instructor to
teach to me in the way that is most effective for me: show me and pose
me. When I’m working with a training partner I ask them to let me
break a technique up into components, even if it was not initially
presented in that way. Most instructors value students who take some
responsibility in customizing their learning. When you’re learning in
a way that works for you, you’ll find you enjoy the process that much
3. Customize your environment. This can simply be changing where you
practice or how you practice. Too many people in your class — find a
smaller one. Particular instructor not working for you — change
classes (don’t let one person hold your passion hostage). Work well
with one partner and not another — be selfish about who you practice
with (let others be responsible for their own feelings as well).
Enjoyment is not Motivating
This may seem like a strange statement (if so, that’s probably a
positive thing) but for many enjoyment is equated with the end of a
journey, or the laziness of a break. In our fast paced society many
motivate themselves through stress, self-punishment, fear and other
generally self-destructive (and certainly enjoyment destructive)
feelings. Many are afraid that if they enjoy themselves they’ll lose
their edge. I’ll refer you back to my comments from last week and
simply state that it’s not the case — It also seems to miss the point
of living.
The best way to make to make a potential enjoyment shift is to allow
yourself some time to experiment. Try on a mental shift or make a
physical shift in how you train and see how it works for you. You
might be surprised at the results.

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