Self-defense and Krav Maga students – those whom I teach – often ask me how to accelerate their performance and optimize their training experience. A fair question for sure. But, the answer may surprise a few of you. There’s no magic answer or mystical solution (see “The Talent Code” in the Required Reading section).

Traditionally, there are two types of students who ask this question, (1) the die-hard trainee that attends nearly every class and typically excels well beyond average pace, and (2) the frustrated trainee that tends to toil in a confusion of his or her own making.

In either case, the answer is the same. Each student must develop and personalize a process that acts as a “make ready” for their mind and body for work prior to a training session. This is a directed and purposeful process. Add some or all of the concepts below to your make ready process.

The Seven Virtues of a Successful Student

1. On time, switched on

a. While traffic and life’s many daily surprises can delay even the most prepared person, it’s a great idea to arrive for class prior to the scheduled time. Take the extra few minutes to relax and clear your mind. Then, begin a mental review of the techniques you’ve been working to master lately. When class starts, you’ll be fully switched on and on your game!

2. Courtesy and Respect

a. Once you enter a martial arts school, you may as well have stepped onto the surface of the moon. Rules and patterns of behavior in the world around you do not apply. The etiquette and respect needed to effectively manage a martial arts class are far more rigid than the workplace water cooler or the modern day workplace. Show respect to your fellow students and each instructor.

3. Effort and Communication

a. Once class starts, dig in and put out the effort! All your effort, however, should be directed effort. If you’re a wild stallion in the classroom, but nobody ever wants to partner with you, it may be your lack of focused effort in feeding drills properly, your lack of control, and/or your lack of communication. Remember, it’s not just how good you are…but how good you can partner, communicate, and help lift others.

4. Feedback and Consistency

a. When you are feeding a drill for your partner, it’s perfectly OK to coach him or her (if asked) on the obvious issues that might be holding them back. I’m not suggesting that anyone start instructing, but there is a set of issues that can be detected by the average student. For instance, the concept of moving with hands, then body, then feet is a huge issue (and can be easily seen by your partner). Whatever, feedback you give, ask for it back also. Perhaps, the most important decision you’ll make in training is…whom you select as a partner (and how you decide to communicate together).

5. Engaged in Community

a. Each thriving martial arts school has a kind of community, and the truth is – each student should try to engage in that community (including formal or informal social gatherings, asking to assist in clean-up or set-up, and being active in discussions inside the classroom). Your input into the school’s community will be matched or exceeded by those you support in extra-curricular instruction and helpful suggestions. It’s just human nature.

6. Hygiene

a. Please don’t be the stinky guy (or girl). Take appropriate steps to ensure you have adequately prepared for the work and sweat that always happens in a self-defense class. Your diet, job, and anything else simply aren’t valid excuses. If you’re going to expect people to work with you in close proximity, show up clean and fresh smelling.

7. Adopt a Method (I suggest the Kravology Methods)

a. This may be the biggest issue for most people. We, as humans, tend to allow our effort to be guided by our feelings. But, the truth is, we never stay the same. We’re either getting better or worse. The only way to reliably improve is by developing a consistent upward trajectory of improvement. We can do this throughout the small performance hills and valleys (we all experience) by applying a proven method of training, assessment, iteration, and so on. Whatever method you select, try it for 90 days. I’ll bet you see substantial improvement.

I hope this article spawned some ideas that help you develop your training perspective and methods and ultimately leads to big improvements in your self-defense and/or Krav Maga practice.

Walk in peace…

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