We recently received a message about one white belt’s inner dialogue. He writes, “Why do I feel like I don’t train as hard as I could? I see guys rolling like maniacs and putting everything on the line… is that the right way to train?” The writer continues to worry that going 100 percent will make him seem to be the class spaz because he has only been training for a couple of years.
These are thoughts I can definitely identify with, and the same can be said for most white belts as they get ready to transition to blue belt. In the beginning, we’re taught to “reign it in”. We learn that our strength is no match for good technique, so we focus our energy on the techniques (if we’re smart).
The answers to these questions will depend greatly on your goals. Are you training for exercise and fun? Are you training to compete at some point? Are you training to compete next week?
You have to start with identifying your “why”. Why are you training? It looks different for everyone, so this part is important. You can’t accurately compare your training to anyone else’s if you don’t know that your “why” matches up with theirs.
Now that you’ve identified the purpose behind your passion, you can start to consider if your current effort is sufficient or if you need to step it up. If you’re training to exercise, meet new people, learn new skills, etc. there is nothing wrong with going at your own pace. However, if your goal is to compete at any level, it may be time to evaluate what you’re putting into your training.
I train competitively, but I’d be lying if I said I go 100 percent in class. I save my 100 percent for competition. A healthy 85 percent is where I’ve found my most effective training. I use some strength, but I also put myself in tough spots. I focus on my techniques, but I’ll give them hell with shoulder pressure. Rolling should not be comfortable or easy. We all spaz sometimes. I still regularly apologize for a misplaced knee, but I walk out knowing that I got a little better in that class.
So dear white belt, you have a lot to look forward to. Blue belt is a great place to figure out your “why”.