It’s a common story, one day you’re training five days a week, rising through the belt ranks and hitting a new tier of skill and fitness every other month. The next, you’re getting barely any sleep and merely making it through the day is nigh impossible. But there are some things you can do to avoid quitting altogether.
Yes becoming a parent is a wonderful, life changing experience, but in my years of training I’ve seen far too many stop training all together and never make it back into the Dojo. So below are some helpful tips for the Martial Artists out there who are expecting!
Don't quit – just slow down
You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this can make. Factually speaking, you won’t be able to train every day for quite some time. Either you’ll be needed at home or simply too exhausted. Be fair to yourself — slowing down to once (maybe twice) a week will still let you maintain what you’ve earned thus far: Your rank, flexibility and knowledge. People who quit for a number of months often find that when they come back there is a long period of catching up before you get back to the level you once were.
Plan your sessions
Pick one day a week as your training day and talk it out with your partner to make sure that day works for both of you. A good recommendation is to pick the first training session for the week in case that day becomes unavailable, leaving a plan B session for later on. Parenting is unpredictable at the best of times, but having a plan in place for when you can train means you can work around it.
A training session can be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours and this does not factor in the time it took you to drive there and back. Fitness is one of the most important things when it comes to training, from keeping form and focus to making sure your techniques are fast and strong. Luckily there’s a simple way to keep this in check, and it's available to almost anyone!
Sprint workouts can be done at any time and in a huge variety of environments — even better if you have any hills near you. A simple workout can be finding a block near you and sprinting one side whilst resting the next. If said block has some elevation, sprint on the uphill and downhill parts whilst recovering in the middle. There’s always time for a 20-30 minute workout when things are in order at home.
It’s your path
Everyone’s path in Martial Arts is different, and how fast or slow you go should have no bearing on anyone else. As a new parent you’ll see people who don’t have families overtake you in terms of skill and rank. It’s the logical result of being able to train more frequently with less distractions elsewhere in life. It’s important to remember that Martial Arts training is a very personal journey, not a race. Focus on your goals and continue moving forward — your training buddies will no doubt help you get there, not compete against you.
Things will get easier
Lastly, it’s important to remember that as your kids grow up, they’ll become more independent and fall into a rhythm. Along with this comes your ability to plan better and no doubt train more. It’s a slow process, but so is training your body in combat. By changing your mindset and continuing your training, you can still aim and hit your goals, even if it does take a little while longer. And who knows, perhaps your end goal is to have your kids train right beside you, starting them on their own path!
Adam Rorke is a parent of two and a black belt in Kamao TKD and Kyokushin Karate, as well as a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also writes about video games. You can follow him on Twitter.