This post has been updated and re-posted from an earlier version.
A little bit of regular practice is more important than infrequently doing a lot. Five minutes a day can be more profound for your long-term growth in a skill than five hours once per month. Keeping a new skill in the active portion of the brain allows you to return to serious study of that skill (for example in a weekly class) more ready for new information and with a much higher level of retention of previous material.
I am personally a big fan of the five-minute a day regimen (if indeed you can call something as short as five-minutes a regimen). It’s easy to complete, easy to fit in, and it often breaks the training inertia between you and a larger session. Sure, it’s not a great amount of time to break a sweat or truly absorb a new skill but it will help you keep that knowledge active for the times when you can make that more serious commitment to study.
There are myriad different rhythms you find—what I recommend is that you find one. A sporadic practice is significantly more difficult to maintain and significantly easier to miss than something that has a system to how it happens that helps you not forget and make practice second nature.
Find your Rhythm
- Use a calendar to set regular and consistent times. Thirty minutes on three days of the week is great but make it always those same three days.
- Tie your practice to something you’re already doing on a rhythm. If you go to the gym on Tuesdays and Fridays, bring a sword with you and use some gym space for exercises. If you have a TV show you always watch, make sword exercises a regular part of your commercial breaks.
- Get a buddy on the same schedule. Whether they practice with you or you just check in with each other to make sure you don’t cheat, friends make everything easier and better.
If you’re serious about making forward progress in this (or other) art, find the schedule of practice that works for you. Then be both easy and honest with yourself. If you miss a day, don’t make excuses just forgive yourself and get back on your schedule.
I hope you enjoy the reward of a long-term rhythm.