Making  Good People Better

The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Improvement

Martial arts is a great way to increase your fitness and learn valuable skills that will continue to benefit you throughout your whole life. If you are just starting your martial arts journey, or you are more experienced but seem to have hit a plateau, here are a few tips to continue to see improvement within your Dojo or gym.

Have a Goal (or two)

Everyone experiences training plateaus where they feel like they are stuck in the same place, or they are lacking motivation to get into the gym and train. An important tool to overcome these slumps is goal setting. Having goals can boost motivation dramatically and keep you on track to improving. It is recommended when setting a goal that you use the SMART goal setting system.

SMART goals are:

Your goals should be clear and specific, they should have a distinct starting and ending point.

Your goal should be measurable, this makes it easy to track your progress and stay motivated.

It is important to set goals that you can realistically achieve. If you have a large goal, such as getting your black belt, you could break down into smaller, more easily attainable ‘stepping stones’.

The goal should align with your current values and objectives.

Ensure your goal has a clearly defined time-frame. Don’t push towards a goal that you might reach ‘some-day’.

Once you have your goals, write them down. According to the Gail Matthews Goal Research Study, people who write down their goals are 20% more likely to accomplish them than those who do not.

Be Humble

No matter what your experience level is, humility is important to learn and grow from others. When you step into your dojo, leave your ego at the door. Be open to new ideas and skills and don’t be afraid to not ‘get it’ right away. Your coaches are the most valuable tools in the dojo, so take on board their lessons, be coachable, and learn.

Humility is also about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. identify where you are lacking with your training, and actively focus on improving that area. If you need extra assistance, actively seek the advice of your coaches and, if needed, enquire about some personal classes if they are available. You can even video yourself training so you can be self-critical and analyse possible areas of improvement.

Challenge Yourself

A good way to keep yourself motivated and to see substantial improvement, is to challenge yourself. This could be focusing on an area of training you generally dislike, increasing workload (for example, do more pushups in a set, or increase pad work intensity), or just focusing on a skill that you find challenging.

Increasing the intensity when you train is another great way to improve your skills and fitness. If you are doing pad-work (and have a suitable pad holder) increase the power or speed and try to hold the intensity throughout the round. This can also be done with line-work or solo practice, such as kata or shadowboxing.

Be Consistent

All of the previous tips fall apart without consistency. Building a good routine and showing up to training regularly is extremely important for self improvement. Everyone has an excuse not to train, but people who push the excuses to the side and step onto the mats, often see the most improvement.

Being consistent is hard. If you’re someone who struggles to build a good routine, make it very clear to yourself when you are going to train by entering events into your calendar, put your training gear by the door as a reminder, and make it easier to access. Keep yourself accountable by telling your friends or coaches when you will be training, or check into class early. Consistency becomes easier when you have built good habits, in order to build good habits, you need to stick to a routine.

Additional notes to keep in mind…

Injuries and Training

Just like any sport, injuries can occur and may limit our training. Managing your injuries should be your number one priority. Ensure you warm up thoroughly before you train, and make the necessary adjustments to not aggravate the injury. If you are unsure of how to work around your injury, ask your trainer what they recommend. Of course, if an injury is serious as to greatly impact your training, ensure you get adequate rest to fully recover, and always follow the advice of your medical professional!

Supplementary Training

Sometimes our fitness is what is limiting us from seeing the results we want. Supplementary training is a powerful tool to improve your fitness for the dojo. Running, swimming, cycling, going to the gym, are all great examples of additional exercise that you can use to supplement your martial arts training. A lot of our students go for a run directly before their class, so they are getting additional exercise, challenging themselves, and warming up for class!


Improving your martial arts skills takes time, effort, and dedication. But by following the tips in this blog post, you can set yourself on the path to success.

Remember to set SMART goals, be humble, challenge yourself, and be consistent. And don’t forget to have fun! Martial arts is a great way to improve your physical and mental health, and it can also be a lot of fun. So get out there and start training, Osu!