New Student: when will you quit?

kungfu penguin

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when i trained at a school the sifu said half will quit by blue belt of the half remaining about 2/3 will quit by brown belt of the remaining about 20 % percent will quit right before or right after black belt i started with about 22 students in my class only 7 of us tested for black within a year after black there were only 3 of us then i moved away to college so i guess you can say life kicked in i still train, just in different arts
 

kenpo tiger

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dear prospective new student:

first, welcome to our training facility. We are glad you decided to start your martial arts training journey and we're glad you chose us. We'd like to share a few things with you to get started, and we'd like to issue a couple of warnings, just so you know what to expect.


pre-quitters:


we'll never get to know you, unfortunately. You've called or come by the training facility, picked up some literature, asked some questions. Maybe you even stayed and watched some training. You told yourself that this is something you think you'd like to do. But for whatever reason, you don't come back. You may be surprised, but every training facility has people who call multiple times to ask about training, and to state that they will definitely be in the next week to start training. Some call every year in january; must be a new year's resolution or something. Whatever; you won't sign up, you won't train. You've quit before you've begun.

Some of you will ask around online about training. Where the local facilities are, if this or that art or trainer is well-respected, and so on. You'll describe your desire to start training, maybe give some background about yourself. Perhaps you've been in the military and gotten some martial arts training there. Perhaps you are a little older and trained in some martial arts style as a child and now you'd like to get back into it. Perhaps you think it would be a good way to lose some weight, to stay fit, to learn self-defense. You're very inquisitive, and seem enthusiastic, but you won't actually sign up and start training, for whatever reason.

Some of you will ask about video and book-based training. You may or may not be pleased with the reply, because although there are some who think martial arts can be learned from a book or from a video, many trained martial artists do not, and they'll give you their unvarnished opinion. We realize that this will probably lead to some angry words and a rapid departure. Not only won't you join a martial arts training center, you also won't practice your asked-about book or video learning either. We won't see you again online, although the discussion threads you've begun will probably continue for some time after you've gone.

Some of you will describe all the ways that it is impossible for you to train in person. You live many miles from the nearest training facility. You do not have a job, and therefore no money. You do not have a vehicle or access to transportation. You work or go to school when the training facility offers classes. There are many reasons why local in-person training is not possible for you. We can offer only this; finding a way to attend training is the first part of your martial arts journey. If you cannot do this (and your reasons may be quite real, we're not calling you a liar), you would not keep training anyway; because it only gets harder from there. If you really want to do it, you will find a way to make it happen, even if it means doing things that are quite uncomfortable or difficult, or making long-range plans that include waiting until you can change your circumstances. Some will recommend that you wait until you can change your circumstances, but that in the meantime, you consider doing calisthenics, working out, doing weight training, becoming flexible, or taking other classes that can help you later; like ballroom dancing, or jazzercise or yoga or other forms of physical activity that require you to develop balance, rhythm, and increase your endurance and basic fitness level. You may reject these; after all, they are not what you want to do. We agree, but we know from the benefit of having trained for awhile in martial arts that these things can and will benefit you; dancers are often quite good martial artists, people who are flexible from yoga find it easy to perform higher kicks, and so on. Again, if you are unwilling to consider this type of training while you wait until your circumstances change so that you can get started with martial arts training, you are probably not that serious about martial arts training.

And let us just say that being a quitter is not a bad thing. It's not meant to hurt or insult you. People choose to do or not do things for all kinds of reasons, and just not wanting to do it is a perfectly valid reason. There is no shame, and no harm, in deciding you don't want to do something; or in deciding after trying it that is just not for you. Have no fear; walk away and do something you do like to do. We're all different, and we all want different things out of life. No harm, no foul. You're still a good person; you just don't want to be a martial artist. Totally ok.

day one quitters:

about half of our prospective new students quit after the first day. Reasons vary, and we don't even know all of them, but our theory is that for many, the reality of our martial arts training does not meet up with their expectations.

For example, we spend at least 30 minutes of our 2-hour training session doing calisthenics and stretching exercises. We understand if you are not in good physical condition or if you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing everything we do; but do ask you to do what you can. We do pushups, we do jumping jacks, we do crunchers and situps and we skip rope. If you are able to keep pace, you will be breathing hard and sweating by the time we're ready to start any kind of actual training. We do this because it is important to prepare the body and the mind for the activity that is to come. We have found that some new students did not expect to have to do hard physical exercise, and that's not what they want to do.

We also start our newest students off with extreme basics, such as how to make a fist, how to stand, how to step forward and back, how to punch. This may seem a far cry from smashing bricks or doing 'real' self-defense, but in grade school, you practiced writing your alphabet before you started writing words, and this is no different. We have found that some new students do not like the idea of beginning at the very beginning.

It has also been noted that invariably, new students ask us "how long until i get my black belt?" this is a very common and legitimate question, we'd be surprised if you did not ask it; but the answer may not be what you want to hear. In our training facility, the answer is that it varies, depending upon the student. At the minimum, it will take several years, and the average for us is probably somewhere in the five year range. That's a long time, and we understand that may be disappointing for some. We cannot say that it is not legitimate for a person to have 'earning a black belt' as a goal for their training, but in our training facility, we keep two things uppermost in mind. First, for us, we're more interested in the training we receive than the belt we wear around our waists and second, sho-dan (first degree black belt) is only the beginning of a lifetime's commitment to martial arts training. We do understand if that is not what you are interested in, but it is what we do here.

3 month quitters:

we're always happy when a new student returns, especially after the first day! Unfortunately, we have also noticed that a lot of students stop coming around the the three-month mark. Again, we're not certain, but there may be a number of reasons for this. We have noted that some students seem to quit after they have received their first or second belt promotions. This is disappointing to us, because we've invested a lot in you as a student by now, we've gotten to know and like you as a person, and you've put in a lot of hard work. We've welcomed you into our family, and no that you're not there, we notice it and we miss you. We wish you'd come back!

When asked, some have said that they quit because even after three months, they felt they were not learning 'martial arts'. that is, they were still spending a lot of time on basics. Stepping, standing, punching, kicking, and the beginnings of kata and the foreign vocabulary words we use in our training facility. Some of it does not feel like it's very much geared towards self-defense or even the kind of fluid, graceful, martial arts moves one can see in movies or on the internet. They might become discouraged or think that they are not progressing. The fact is, you are progressing, you just don't see it in yourself yet. You are adding speed and balance and power to your punches, even if you are punching air or a bag. You are learning distancing and how to hit without hurting your hand, how to kick without hurting your toes. You're improving; but you just don't see it in yourself yet. The truth is, you'll probably never see it until you get to the point where you see yourself objectively, but you will get to the point where you see new students who are where you were, and you'll realize that you're not like that anymore.

The seasons are also changing after three months, in many places. Fall turns into winter, the weather turns bad. Students go back to school, schedules change for many of us. It becomes harder to get to the training facility, harder to dedicate the time necessary. People catch colds and flu and although they are understandably out for a short period, starting again afterwards can be an uphill slog. The thing you should remember is that there is only one thing that separates many advanced students from beginning students; they kept attending training. That's it. No magic. They're not more talented than you (ok, maybe some are, and you may be more naturally gifted than some of them), but they kept attending training. If they seem much better than you are now, that's what time and practice does. That may seem difficult to accept from the 'beginner' side of things, but it's true.

Boredom. Yes, it's true. Although we vary the routine in our training facility to try to keep things fresh, ultimately we are doing the same things over and over again. And there is a certain amount of tedium in it if you do not have a long attention span. But training the body is not exactly the same as training the mind; the body requires repetition to make certain movements natural and reflexive, to apply speed and power to them. There will come a time when you will see an opening during sparring and you'll throw a punch or a kick and it will go right where you intended it to go, just as you intended it to land; but it will happen because you have thrown that punch of kick hundreds or thousands of times until it seems as natural as swatting a fly or reaching for a kitchen utensil. It will be in your 'bag of tricks' and you can call upon it anytime you need it. But until you do it over and over and over again, knowing the movement is not the same as applying the movement. Yes, it's boring and repetitive and it gets old. Part of your martial arts journey will be doing things that are not that much fun, without any apparent short-term benefit.

Afraid to come back after an absence. Yes, we understand that there are good reasons why you have to stop training for a period of time. Jobs, school, children, parents, seasons, sickness, injuries, finances, all kinds of reasons, many of them valid. But we also want you to come back. We like you by now. We miss you. Yes, some of your fellow new students will have advanced since you've been gone. But that's not a big deal; this is not a race. You will have lost some training too; you'll forget your kata or forms, your moves will be slow and rusty, you'll have to relearn some things. But you'll also be surprised at how quickly you'll get it all back once you start training again. It won't take as long as you think. So don't think that it's a good idea to stop training permanently just because you had to stop training temporarily. You don't even have to explain to us why you had to stop; we know how life is. Just come back and start training again.

black belt quitters:

the saddest thing is to see a student quit training when they receive their sho-dan or first-degree black belt. One instructor put it this way; "it hurts to know that they see the benefits and choose not to train anyway." a student who earns their black belt has generally shown the kind of dedication needed to keep training, to keep learning, to keep trying, no matter the obstacles put in front of them. You are actively helping others in the training facility; you are looked up to as leaders and newer students model themselves after you. You are respected and liked; your absence will be sorely felt.

Why did you quit? Perhaps you felt like taking a break. After all, it was a long and difficult climb to that first black belt rank, and there was quite likely an even more difficult last-minute push to make sure you had everything in place to test and pass that milestone. You were in that last sprint to the finish line and perhaps now it feels like the race is over, or at least that you're not ready to immediately start another race to the next belt.

Hopefully, you don't think you've learned all there is to learn. Most black belt students are quite aware that those who have advanced black belts have a level of mastery above them as much as they themselves have over a beginner. You may have learned all the kata or forms, all the exercises, all the weapons; but it would be wrong to say you've mastered them. Just as a person with a bachelor's degree in biology understands the basics of human health, they are in no way a medical doctor.

Perhaps you feel that you've ticked a box off your bucket list. If that's all all you wanted, it's perfectly valid; but it does mystify many of us who have turned the corner of perception from martial arts as a way of learning something (self-defense, good conditioning, etc) into seeing martial arts as a way of life, something to be pursued forever, perpetual students who always strive for a deeper level of understanding. Everyone has their own reasons for training; and for quitting. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' to it; but once a student reaches black belt range, many life-long students start to think that all black belts feel the same way about training that they do. It's often a shock to find out that's not the case.

the way of martial arts success:

the secret, prospective student, is simple, even if it is difficult to implement. Find a training facility you like, with a qualified instructor that you respect, that teaches what you want to learn. Find a way to attend regularly, even through difficulty and sacrifice. Then keep training. Through boredom, through injuries, through changes in your life that make it difficult to train. If you have to stop, start again as soon as you can. Practice when you are not able to train in person. Repeat this for the rest of your life. That is the secret to martial arts success.

bravo!!
 

stone_dragone

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when i trained at a school the sifu said half will quit by blue belt of the half remaining about 2/3 will quit by brown belt of the remaining about 20 % percent will quit right before or right after black belt i started with about 22 students in my class only 7 of us tested for black within a year after black there were only 3 of us then i moved away to college

My first school and martial home has been open for 24 years. For the first 15 years, conservatively one could say about 200 folks a year started classes, the next 9 years averaged about 75 or so a year starting (due to a new location). Let's just round it down to about 3600 folks. Only 34 folks have made it to shodan. Rounded up, that's 1%. Only 4 of those made it past 3rd Dan, and only 2 made it to Godan (so far).


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Monroe

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I checked out a few schools before I picked one. I wanted to at least try a class before deciding on one. So I might have looked like a quitter because I showed up and did the trial. Only one school did I say I was definitely coming back and I did return after the trial. I've been going since October and I'm really enjoying classes at a place that offers Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA. I haven't tried MMA there. I haven't seen a single woman show up to that class. I don't want to be the only woman that ever goes. It shouldn't bother me, but it does.

I was uncomfortable with the formalities of the other schools and unfamiliar words for positions being called out that I wasn't even remotely remembering.

I'd bet that the people who say they're going, over the phone but don't show, probably did plan on going. But as the time drew close, they chickened out. Friends who said they were going to come out with me have all chickened out so far. I don't think people are lying. Just failing to follow through.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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I'd bet that the people who say they're going, over the phone but don't show, probably did plan on going. But as the time drew close, they chickened out. Friends who said they were going to come out with me have all chickened out so far. I don't think people are lying. Just failing to follow through.

I agree with you. And I don't mean it to sound judgmental, because I've started lots of things I've never completed, we probably all have; just different things. If MA is not a person's thing, no harm no foul; walk away and go do something that person does find joy and fulfillment in!

On the other hand, I meets lots of people who tell me that they wanted to join the military; but they didn't. They wanted to learn a martial art; but they didn't. I know lots of people who wanted to do lots of things; but they didn't. That's all cool, but in the end, with martial arts, there are those who did; and those who didn't. No disrespect to those that didn't, but they didn't. Kind of sad that they seem to have wanted to but something stopped them. The key to success is not to quit. That's the whole secret.
 

Monroe

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I had problems with chickening out on things. I found the best thing to do was get a lot of information first. Think about it and decide. Once a decision is made, I don't think about it anymore. Because if I think about it after I've decided, I draw it out too long and then psyche myself out and don't do it. I prefer to fail fast. I don't know until I try. I come up with embarrassing results sometimes, but at least I know I tried.
 

ShotoKHAN

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I personally find it hard to believe people would quit so soon, as in one day, 3 month, or even black belt increments. The way the martial arts are structured, there's always something new to learn. I always had a couple new kicks or new techniques that were waiting for me after receiving belt after belt, as if you feel that accomplishment after receiving the new belt, only to face a new challenge to overcome.

Maybe I'm just weird, but to me, that makes martial arts addicting.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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I personally find it hard to believe people would quit so soon, as in one day, 3 month, or even black belt increments. The way the martial arts are structured, there's always something new to learn. I always had a couple new kicks or new techniques that were waiting for me after receiving belt after belt, as if you feel that accomplishment after receiving the new belt, only to face a new challenge to overcome.

Maybe I'm just weird, but to me, that makes martial arts addicting.

If you are a member of a dojo for any length of time at all, you'll realize that no matter how hard it is to believe, it happens all the time.

It's been 3 1/2 years since I started training. I'd say our dropout rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% for the first 30 days. Since I started, I'm the only one left. Two people have started right after me who are still around; the rest are gone. Our class size never really increases; we only have the hard corps members left. I wish it was different, but there you go.
 

Steve

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If you are a member of a dojo for any length of time at all, you'll realize that no matter how hard it is to believe, it happens all the time.

It's been 3 1/2 years since I started training. I'd say our dropout rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% for the first 30 days. Since I started, I'm the only one left. Two people have started right after me who are still around; the rest are gone. Our class size never really increases; we only have the hard corps members left. I wish it was different, but there you go.
I look at school pictures from 5 years ago and only an handful of guys are still left.
 

zDom

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Good stuff. I know it's been up for awhile but I just now got around to reading it.

That pretty much sums it up for our dojang except we don't jump rope and we have an additional "quit time": after they buy a uniform.

For some reason, people will try a free class, order and receive a uniform, wear it to one class (huge, unshrunk) and then we will never see them again.
 

luckiest

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I checked out a few schools before I picked one. I wanted to at least try a class before deciding on one. So I might have looked like a quitter because I showed up and did the trial. Only one school did I say I was definitely coming back and I did return after the trial.

Same here, I have stopped coming after trials if it wasn't the school for me, then again I usually am vague about whether I will return or not. The last one I tried I was very keen on and showed that but they didn't tell me the prices until after the trial, and then it was a no way. I even called up one recently to ask for some info, and said I'd intend to go for a trial but I haven't made it yet! I have a crazy busy life though.

I quit once when I was young and I was at a pretty good stage, I regret it all the time.
 

malteaser14

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In answer to your question... NEVER!!!

I started training at the end of 2005/06... But only for 3months. I didn't leave through choice, my husband had a job opportunity in a different part of the country, so we moved away for 6months. When we returned home we started a family, so 5yrs and 2 children later I start back! (Aug 2011) I'm completely hooked and will do anything possibly to train 3/4 times a week! I'm definitely a better person because of it too!!
 

Cirdan

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That is a great post Bill. People come and go all the time, you give us a good picture of the whys.

I`ve been a pre quitter on two occations. The first time I was going to start in Shotokan, but decided to move because of a job offer in another part of the country (I instead took up Wado two years later). The second time I was looking for an art to cross train, I did not really like the Judo demonstration so I went looking elsewhere.

I was a month quitter in Kenjutsu because I decided cross training it with Karate did not work well at my current level.

I have temporarily quit Ju Jitsu to focus on my Karate, it has been 18 months now I hope to return in another six.

My training in Wado Karate has been steady, the thing is to find what you like and keep going.
 

Gnarlie

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I joined a club here in Germany only to leave after 3 weeks because they opened every lesson with 15 minutes of football as a warmup (soccer, for all you US folks). I hate football, both to watch and to play, especially barefoot on wood. If I wanted to play football I would join a football club. I have since found places with more martial focus.

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bluewaveschool

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Since I took over in the summer of 2010, I have exactly 1 student left from the 6 I started with. Since then, we've had well over 100 start and quit. Dad said he must have seen over a thousand start and quit in the 7 years he was head instructor. Dad put this picture up on facebook and I stole it, our class around 2003.

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I am back row, black top with grey undershirt. The only student in that picture that made black belt is the woman on the end in the brown belt. Actually, in this picture are the majority of the black belts to come from our school since I made black belt in 1997. The kid and the older man on the end of the back line, the brown belt, and her husband who is on the back line two people left of me in white. Those four, and two others have reached black belt in the last 15 years. A black belt is hard work, and it seems like no one wants to put in the work when it gets hard. Maybe the current generation is just too damn lazy. Maybe we make it too hard at the brown belt level. Maybe people get mad when we tell them they aren't entitled to test when they think they are ready.
 

Carol

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Maybe, but that picture is predominantly children, and I don't have an issue with kids not making black belt. Its OK if not earning a black belt is not a kid thing, IMO.
 

bluewaveschool

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Usually the adults we get are parents taking it with kids, or people taking it for credit at the community college, and we know they aren't sticking around. Comes with the territory of being a YMCA program that's only open to members. We don't have the time slot for an adult only class, and some adults won't train with kids that aren't their own. I currently have 4 mothers taking the class with their kids, and one father. Other adults? Just doesn't happen for us often.
 

celestial_dragon

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I think the main reason adults quit is because of the children in the class. Don't get me wrong, kids should train also, but not with adults in the class. Children have a quick mind span, and get bored easily, then they distract the adults. I personally only train in adult classes.
 

Aiki Lee

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I agree with celestial_dragon. I think I'm seeing this now in my dojo as we are made up mostly of kids at this point. Then again, it seems the kids here have more determination than some of the adults at times.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Then again, it seems the kids here have more determination than some of the adults at times.
That's odd, when I was a little kid, my dad would have me and my brotherwatch the adult classes and see how determined they were, and how much they tried whenever we complained that it was to hard.
 
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