"I'm Going To Come Back To Training" and other lies

Bill Mattocks

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You know them. They used to train with you. It's been years, you run into them on the street, and you recognize each other. "I'm coming back," they assure you. Life's been in the way, something with the kids, you know the job market, this nagging illness, but they're coming back. They still practice "every day" and they're "ready to go."

You will look for them in the dojo in vain. They won't be back.

Alternatively, someone who used to train but quit years ago suddenly shows up. Much rejoicing. How are you? How've you been? Nice to see you again! Are you back for good? "Oh yes," they assure everyone. They've gotten their priorities fixed and they're back for good. You can count on them.

Yeah, for maybe one or two sessions. Then they're gone again. This time for good.

It used to bother me somewhat. Why would someone spend a lot of time and effort to advance and learn and then just bail? And then never come back? Then if they do reappear, they show up once or twice and then they're gone again. What's the point?
 

Wing Woo Gar

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I went back and forth on this a bit. On one hand, I was excited to see new members. On the other hand, I new it would mean slowing down the training workout and potentially being told to spend an entire hour teaching them the salutation over and over with little chance of them spending more than a month training before they quit. Most people dont want to work out until they gas, they just want magic techniques and a tshirt. Now that I teach, I just tell them up front, I dont give belts, I dont teach children, there are no accolades. This equates to moving a mountain with a spoon because you like the practice. I dont have a lot of students, but the ones I do have are committed. That culture is pervasive in our school, my students are willing to help new students learn if they see that new student has a commitment to effort.
 

Hot Lunch

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Not for martial arts, but I'm that guy when it comes to going to hitting the gym and working out. I think my problem is that I'm too focused on the results and not actually trying to enjoy the workout (I realized this after my last stint in the gym, so maybe I can increase my sticktoitiveness if I change my focus next time around).
 

Steve

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There are people in this world who can eat one thing every day and never get tired of it. Nothing wrong with that.

karate is a hobby, like playing guitar. The longer you do, the better you will get. But for some folks, it will be a priority and for others it will not.
 

Gyakuto

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We are a group of people who are obsessed with martial arts. We practise them, read about them, talk about them and think about them, almost continuously, in one context or another. We even joined this message board and take our valuable time to post our ideas, respond to queries, offer advice on the martial arts. We devote our lives to our arts and are a rare, atypical demographic.

However, there is a spectrum of other practitioners who do not fit into the described set. Some like wearing the clothing and waving their arms and legs about shouting hiyaah! or caterwauling like their childhood screen idol. Some are attracted by the remote possibility of earning a black belt (How challenging can it be, judging by some of the people who have one in this club?). Others like the camaraderie of a collective engaged in an pastime that also makes for great dinner party conversations (Im windswept and interesting)..and on and on the virtually infinite variations on this spectrum go. They do not belong to the above set and cannot be expected to, nor will they, devote their lives to these arts as we have and theyll come and go through that strange revolving door.

Let them have their fun in any way that they like while contributing to the dojo coffers.
 

Tony Dismukes

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I don't know about most people, but I have way more things I would like to do in life than I have the time or energy to actually do, even if I didn't have a full time job and family responsibilities. Music, art, rock climbing, learning languages, various martial arts, movies, books, videogames, D&D, archery, writing, gardening, carpentry, dance, the list goes on and on.

What I've found over the years is that I only discover what my real passions are by which activities I end up showing up for and doing consistently over time, despite the demands of daily life, the allure of other hobbies, and my own laziness.

For me, it turns out that martial arts training is the activity that I keep showing up for over the course of decades. Other activities come and go. Some of them I return to periodically. Some of them I miss and think about how nice it would be to start back up - but realistically the time and energy aren't with me at the moment. Maybe I will return to them at a later date. Maybe not.

I imagine that most of the old training partners and students I encounter who talk about how they want to get back to training are in the same boat. Very likely they would like to get back on the mats - but they have other responsibilities and interests calling them. Maybe they will make it back one day, for a day or for a year, but in the meantime something else is taking up that space in their lives. And that's okay. Whatever they are doing with their lives, it may be just as rewarding for them as my training is for me.
 

Bujingodai

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I have been out for a few years. But I was obsessed and invested for 28 of them. Now that I have some interested parties asking me to teach again. I have to admit it has my juices flowing. I didn't leave due to not loving it. The politics and the inconsistency of students, the trends in the arts and so on.... then I got super sick. Off work for 2 years.

Have to admit I am much happier now I am within weeks of teaching again
 

Oily Dragon

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You know them. They used to train with you. It's been years, you run into them on the street, and you recognize each other. "I'm coming back," they assure you. Life's been in the way, something with the kids, you know the job market, this nagging illness, but they're coming back. They still practice "every day" and they're "ready to go."

You will look for them in the dojo in vain. They won't be back.

Alternatively, someone who used to train but quit years ago suddenly shows up. Much rejoicing. How are you? How've you been? Nice to see you again! Are you back for good? "Oh yes," they assure everyone. They've gotten their priorities fixed and they're back for good. You can count on them.

Yeah, for maybe one or two sessions. Then they're gone again. This time for good.

It used to bother me somewhat. Why would someone spend a lot of time and effort to advance and learn and then just bail? And then never come back? Then if they do reappear, they show up once or twice and then they're gone again. What's the point?
I think this is the "long timers lament".

From your POV, they are "bailing" but consider this: it's just class time. The whole point of class time is to prepare you for time outside class, so everyone has their own appetite for class.

For all we know, one class for someone is worth a year of value. To others, can't get enough classes.

The long timers tend to be the most passionate about things and stick around the longest. Which is great, I've done it. But you must face the sadness that comes with time by planting away, like a seed, the brief time you had with these folk.

I haven't trained with some people for 15 years but we still keep in touch somehow.

That's the value of class, IMHO. Sometimes one is enough.
 

Rich Parsons

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You know them. They used to train with you. It's been years, you run into them on the street, and you recognize each other. "I'm coming back," they assure you. Life's been in the way, something with the kids, you know the job market, this nagging illness, but they're coming back. They still practice "every day" and they're "ready to go."

Yes, I have heard this and more as I know you and others have as well.

You will look for them in the dojo in vain. They won't be back.

Yes, this is a hard lesson. Do not look for them. Do not expect them.
They will come back if they want .
Usually they want to think they can come back. :(

Alternatively, someone who used to train but quit years ago suddenly shows up. Much rejoicing. How are you? How've you been? Nice to see you again! Are you back for good? "Oh yes," they assure everyone. They've gotten their priorities fixed and they're back for good. You can count on them.

It is good to see them again. Even for a short period of time.

Yeah, for maybe one or two sessions. Then they're gone again. This time for good.

Yes, usually it is for good. A few will do it once a year, or once every couple of years, and then eventually stop. :(

It used to bother me somewhat. Why would someone spend a lot of time and effort to advance and learn and then just bail? And then never come back? Then if they do reappear, they show up once or twice and then they're gone again. What's the point?

I get stopping for money or health. Lost a job, and out looking for one, and then you get one and pay off the back bills and then come back to class. This makes sense to me.
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Many come back and see those they were parallel with or ahead of in rank and now they are much better, and their ego will not allow them to step to other side of them. Or to let them score points in sparring while they are scrubbing the rust off.
Sometimes those who staid remember them at their best, and treat them as such, and if enough time has past, they are off in timing and stretch and mobility and endurance and so the student who staid is active and has those at their current level and the student / blackbelt coming back does not and gets hurt or shown up and embarrassed.
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So they leave hurt and or ego hurt.
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They could also see that they need more time for recovery and the amount of effort they need to put in just to get back part of what they lost, is something they do not want to do anymore.
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Just like those that say "I'll come visit you soon" and then never travel an hour away to get training, yet will plan to travel 4 to 12 or more hours for training as that is a trip.
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I care not what they do.
Show up and be consistent or please stop coming and going causing an interruption.
If one wants private lessons to get back in shape, then reach out to the instructor and pay for them, with time, effort and cash.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Usually they want to think they can come back. :(
When someone says, "I'll come back when I'm in better shape." That person doesn't know that to stay in class can make him to be in better shape. Usually, that person won't come back.

MA is not for everybody. There is no need to keep someone who doesn't belong to MA.
 

JowGaWolf

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Martial arts is a solo activity even when you train and spar with others. If you focus more on where others are in their training or compare yourself to others then you'll miss a lot about yourself. If you focus with the goal of bringing better than you were last week then you'll gain everything.

Even if I suck in ground fighting. If I tap out less this week than last week then it's a gain and an improvement.

I go to the gym and focus on what I need to work on and I think that's what most people notice. I'm not the best but I'll be better next week than I was this week.

It's really difficult to train correctly and be worse than you were. Just show up and do the time and the work. See where the road will take you. It might be to a place that you really like. If you don't like it then don't do it. Don't be cruel to yourself.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I don't know about most people, but I have way more things I would like to do in life than I have the time or energy to actually do, even if I didn't have a full time job and family responsibilities. Music, art, rock climbing, learning languages, various martial arts, movies, books, videogames, D&D, archery, writing, gardening, carpentry, dance, the list goes on and on.
I had one student who quitted right after he got his 1st degree black belt. I asked him why. He told me that he wanted to try rock climbing. To some people, black belt is a goal that they want to accomplish. After that, they want to do something else.

Right after my 40 years birthday, I started to train Marathon, bicycling, triathlon. But I still keep my MA training.
 
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Gyakuto

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I wonder if those teaching other types of arts/classes lament at the high attrition rate of new students? Are language teachers saddened when that guy who sits at the back of the class room doesnt return after a couple of classes? How about the pottery and ballroom dancing teacher? People come and go to learn how to ring church bells with my group, and nobody really bats an eyelid at non-returners. Water off a ducks back! Its just a fact of life, its human nature. People get bored, have other priorities or perhaps feel intimidated at the enormous amount of work before them in order to become even slightly competent in martial arts and want an easier route in something else.

Why are martial arts teachers worrying about it? Do they feel personally slighted at being rejected? Is it their inflated ego thats been pricked? Should they be looking inward for the reasons rather than at the drop outs themselves?
 

Hot Lunch

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Why are martial arts teachers worrying about it? Do they feel personally slighted at being rejected? Is it their inflated ego thats been pricked? Should they be looking inward for the reasons rather than at the drop outs themselves?
Exactly. Because there's another possibility that doesn't seem to be occurring to them: just because they stopped showing up to that particular school doesn't mean they quit the martial art. They may be continuing their training at another school that they like better. I know all about that first hand.

I'll also add this: for the students that did quit altogether, they may believe that the complaints they had about the school that they left applies to all schools of that particular art, if that's the only one they've ever trained at. I know, because this was almost me. Until I decided to check out other places.
 

GMK Sa Bom Nim

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It used to bother me somewhat. Why would someone spend a lot of time and effort to advance and learn and then just bail? And then never come back? Then if they do reappear, they show up once or twice and then they're gone again. What's the point?
After teaching for over a decade, I've found that most students do not realize the commitment that most of us make to martial arts. For most, it is indeed just a hobby. For children, certainly so. For many of us, though, it is a lifelong journey. It should be okay either way.

I certainly do not take it personally if a student decides to drop, or after dropping, say they are coming back and they don't. I know the quality of my teaching and value of our Dojang. I also understand that our style is not for everyone and some may go somewhere else. It may be because of the "chemistry" of the students or the relationship with the teacher. It may be the geographic distance from their home. It may be for other economic reasons. Regardless, I enjoy those who appreciate training in our school and wish well in their endeavors, those who do not.

If someone is an intermittent student, just teach them each time they return like they are brand new. You would not try to judge a brand new student on their first class, would you? Maybe they'll stay this time; maybe they won't. Either way, I do not not judge them. I am a teacher and appreciate all students that are there to learn. It does not matter if it is for one class or for many years. We cannot know all the influences on the lives of students that occur outside the Dojo/Dojang. Don't overthink it.
 

Holmejr

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Its the same in MA as with anything that people are into. People come and go for a whole slew of reason or excuses. When confronted, I think many folk just try to placate by telling you what they think you want to hear. I just try to encourage.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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Its the same in MA as with anything that people are into. People come and go for a whole slew of reason or excuses. When confronted, I think many folk just try to placate by telling you what they think you want to hear. I just try to encourage.
They usually volunteer the information; I don't ask or encourage. I just say hello. "I'm coming back!" "Oh, OK, that's nice. See you then."
 

Buka

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Going to a dojo and making a commitment to train isnt an easy undertaking. Its even tougher if working full time, taking care of a family etc. Life sometimes gets in the way.

Teaching Martial Arts and running a dojo isnt easy either. Its damn hard. Im sure all of us do the best we can.

There is no this is the best way to do that. Theres too many variables and theyre all specific to the dojo, teachers and students of that time and place.

I guess the first job of a dojo owner is to keep the place open. If we cant do that there is no more dojo.

A buddy of mine comes from a heavily populated, well-to-do city just outside of Boston. Thats a great place to open a dojo. But then you have to commit to running it. Which my buddy has done.

Hes been running it, full time, for forty five years. Hes very successful, has made a ton of money and has some of the best students Ive ever seen. Hes also worked his butt off every single day.
Hes in as good a physical shape as anyone Ive ever known. His wife has been running the place with him for almost as long as hes been there.

Great scenario, great good fortune and commitment - but you still have to do the work every single day. And he works his backside off.

He has an option for students to have their tuition automatically deducted from their pay or accounts. No contracts, no strings attached, really easy for them to stop the program.

Him and I were training one morning some years ago. We were shooting the breeze in his office afterwards. He opened his books for me.

He said see these ten people highlighted in yellow marker? They havent been here in years. I contact them once a year to see if they want to stop their tuition withdrawal. They immediately say No, no, Im coming back!

He sees them at the supermarket, they try to duck him. He sneaks up on them and says Theyre you are!

They immediately say, Im coming back, swear to God, Ive just been so damn busy! Ill see you next month, honest.

And, of course, they never show. The reason they havent stopped their payments is obviously because they can afford to do so, but its more because they dont want to admit to themselves that theyre done training.

We all should be as fortunate as my buddy and as fortunate as his students that can afford to do that.

Crazy thing running a dojo. Theyre all as different as fingerprints.
 

Bujingodai

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I am fortunate to have always run mine as a home dojo. Honestly on mostly a donation basis unless it was a specific seminar. Albeit many students don't pay anything at all. I guess, keeping it small and as traditional as possible I want the donation to come out of duty and honour. I have that luxury. But sometimes that sucks. That and the market here is for MMA only really. Everything else just doesn't work as far as the general public cares.
 

Tony Dismukes

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He said see these ten people highlighted in yellow marker? They havent been here in years. I contact them once a year to see if they want to stop their tuition withdrawal. They immediately say No, no, Im coming back!

He sees them at the supermarket, they try to duck him. He sneaks up on them and says Theyre you are!

They immediately say, Im coming back, swear to God, Ive just been so damn busy! Ill see you next month, honest.

And, of course, they never show. The reason they havent stopped their payments is obviously because they can afford to do so, but its more because they dont want to admit to themselves that theyre done training.

We all should be as fortunate as my buddy and as fortunate as his students that can afford to do that.
I had a period about 15 years ago when I was having health problems and for about a year I wasn't able to train regularly. At that time my gym had a deal in the contract where you had to give them 3 months notice to cancel the membership and stop the automatic tuition withdrawal. Given how infrequently I was capable of making it to training, it would have been financially smart to give the 3 month notice and just sign back up once I was past my medical situation. But I didn't want to admit that I was going to be out of training that long. So I kept paying, made it in when I was capable, and eventually I got healthy and returned to regular training.
 
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