Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Bad Habits in the Martial Arts

At some stage during ones training they shall come across bad habits. The kicker about bad habits is that it is rare that one will see these bad habits themselves. They can creep up on a martial artist at anytime and to some can take years to break, if every broken at all!

They can be anything. A low guard when punching, telegraphed movements, not getting low enough under your opponents hips on takedowns and throws, not using the correct amount of leverage on submissions opting for strength instead etc. The list is endless, and it is most likely that when learning, during your initial stages of martial arts training, these bad habits were not there, but have developed as time has gone by.

It is very easy to confuse bad habits with ones own personal style of fighting, but end of the day, if these bad habits are leading you towards becoming an ineffective fighter, then they must be broken. The good part to bad habits however, is that with thoughtful training, they can be broken.

Below are a few ways in which one can tackle bad habits in the martial arts.

Listen to criticism – This is one of the hardest thinks to do, especially if one has been training for quite some time and has developed a certain style of fighting unique to them. However, if different people keep telling you of the same bad habit/s which you may have developed, listen to the comments and try and see for yourself if it is true. Never just shrug them off thinking that they do not know what they are talking about, because maybe they will be correct.

Ask a senior – It could be one of the black belts, a pro fighter you may know, but most of the times if not always it should be your trainer/coach/sensei, whatever you call that person. Go and ask them weather the comments you have received about these certain bad habits are true. As your trainer, he/she should notice them straight away and should then focus on trying to help you break them.

Train slowly – Go back to basic slow training when training on your own or with a partner. Perform your movements slowly, paying strict attention on trying to break the bad habits you have developed.

Use a mirror – The mirror is one of the best training aids available. It will never lie to you and shall let you know weather you are still performing these bad habits or weather they are being broken.

Tell your sparring partners to capitalize specifically on your bad habits - Lets say that your bad habit is that after each cross punch you don’t return to a fighting stance quick enough, but just drop your punching arm down. Tell your partner that every time this happens he should pull you forwards to the floor, (which is very easy to do by the way if you are leaning too far forward after a sloppy cross punch!) This is a way for you to not only be reminded of the bad habit so you can think about breaking it, but it is a way to show you that the bad habit can leave you in a bad position, which is the case for nearly all bad habits.

Bad habits WILL occur in ones training. That can not be helped but as long as one understands that they are not perfect and it is possible for anyone to develop them, only then will one be able to start working towards breaking them. Train slowly and cautiously and eventually it/they shall be broken.

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