How Important is a Martial Arts Training Environment?

By Elisabeth Clay 

I think this is something that can and does get looked over a lot. 

Just because there is high level training there doesn’t mean the environment is necessarily the best. The environment you are in has a HUGE impact on how you perform and learn. You can have the highest level of training somewhere, but if its a bad environment you won’t learn the same nor will you perform to your highest level. If it’s a poor environment, you can struggle a lot with confidence, as well. At the same time, taking advice will be hard. If you are in a bad environment, you are probably used to the “so called advice” being more like you getting into trouble, and any compliments will be hard to take because you never know the real compliments from back handed ones. 

What’s the Point of All This?

Your environment is HUGE in who you are not only as an athlete, but as a person. These are things that affect you even years after, even if you’ve left this environment. Now it isn’t just in training either that these things effect you. The environment you are in at home as well plays a huge part or even the environment in your friend group, social media, etc. The things you surround yourself with play a huge factor in how you handle everything, how well you can learn, and how well you perform. These are things as athletes we need to be on top of. Even if not an athlete, we need to be as well, as so many aspects of life can be affected.  

These so called minor things, if they throw off our game, can have major consequences even for years to come. 

Aspects of an Unhealthy or Non-Productive Training Environment Ego—Too Much Ego From Professor/Coach or from Training Partners

This for me is a HUGE one. If there is so much ego within the gym, even from other people, you might not be in a comfortable learning environment at all. Too much ego can make you feel like you cannot make mistakes. A huge part of learning is trial and error, the comfort to be able to make mistakes and not feel belittled or threatened in any way is critical. It’s important to be comfortable asking for help from your professor or training partners. This just takes in to account the drilling portion. Next is the rolling portion; if there is so much ego when it comes to rolling, not only will you not learn as much, but you are much more likely to get unnecessarily injured . This can obviously affect how, when, and how often you are able to compete and train.

Lack of Emphasis on Rest and Recovery

If your coaches don’t allow you to get the proper rest while training, this can affect you badly as well. Yes the grind is a part of it, and should be. You need to push for a training session several times a week, but not to the point you are running on fumes for months on end. It’s totally different if towards the end of your camp for a tournament you are tired, it should be like this. But after said tournament, you should be resting for a couple days so you can go and do it again for the next. Some people need a full rest day, some need to just alter the type of training activity. Knowing the difference for you, your body, and mind is something to have an observant and in-tune coach/professor or mentor to help you evaluate. The professor sets the pace for fostering the environment. 

Lack of Support

If your professor isn’t there to help you or makes you feel stupid for asking questions or for help, this is a red flag to look for a new place to train. This isn’t to say he/she doesn’t tease you playfully, but he/she should make you feel comfortable enough to ask questions. The responses may not be what you want to hear, but should prepare you for whatever you are needing assistance with. You should also feel the professor/coach will be there to help walk you through solving the question. You should never feel coerced. You should feel encouraged or even pushed to be the best version of yourself. You whoever you are be you, just the best version of you. 

Poor Sportsmanship

Watch how the team leaders at your gym or a perspective gym treat others when they beat them. Do they trash talk? Do they degrade the losing opponent? Yes, everyone loves to win and to celebrate the accomplishment that is healthy and appropriate. Being a good sport is something that was STRONGLY emphasized in my house. Win or lose you are respectful. That sportsmanship and respect go hand in hand. This is fundamental to a good environment to flourish in. 

Now some people need a harder or softer environment then others, but all should have respect, good sportsmanship, and support.  

Many of these things I learned the hard way. As a whole though, if we eliminate training where the environment is just not healthy, then we should not have to worry much about the rest. My thoughts are will you out there. I wish everyone the gym with the environment to help them flourish to their full potential. 

Become your lion or lioness…

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