I've been training in Karate for a few years and have managed to make my way up to 1st Kyu. I could probably do my Shodan grading in about a years time.

The thing is I'm starting to get very bored of training. I train twice a week but I really don't feel I'm getting much out of it anymore. I used to really enjoy it, but feel I'm 'killing time' till the next grading.

Opening this to instructors and students of all martial arts. Have you ever experienced burnout/boredom with senior students? Any advice on what to do? Take a break, talk to an instructor, try something different, quit??

  • 2
    "I really don't feel I'm getting much out of it any more" - what were you getting out of it before you got bored / what do you want to get out of it in future? What's your understanding of the situation? That is, are you not learning anything, not sure what to work on technically, not getting to focus your time on those things during a formal class, not feeling like you're progressing, not getting challenged, not seeing progress at this as important to you personally any more...? How hard have you studied in the past?
    – Tony D
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:09
  • Probably a number of reasons: I've been doing it for so long, feel competent in the basics, and I'm not being challenged. Surely this could happen? It's conflicting because I want to get my dan grade.
    – LeDoc
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:18
  • If you feel competent in the basics, are not being challenged, what is stopping you from trying your dan grading now? What will change in a year? Is it a school time requirement? Have you talked to your instructor about this?
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 22:00
  • How often do you compete/fight?
    – coinbird
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 20:17
  • I'm a 5th dan and the material ends at 5th dan. So bored.... I will probably excel more in another organization.
    – Ted turner
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 22:37

8 Answers 8


Any of your proposed actions could be appropriate, depending upon circumstances.

As a student, you need to understand what you need to improve, exactly what you need to get there, and practice. It's your teacher's job to set you on the right path by showing you what you need to improve, and giving you the tools to get there. Mindless practice does not lead to improvement; practice is a continuous refinement process that requires active adjustment.

If you already know what you need to improve and how, then the problem may simply be motivation. Take a break, and come back later.

If you do not know what you need to improve or do not know how, this is a bigger problem.

  1. Ask your instructor for more guidance.
  2. Ask your instructor's peers for guidance. Sometimes a fresh perspective on the same subjects is needed for improvement.
  3. Branch out or move on to a different school or system. It's possible you have outgrown your teacher.

As a monetary matter, martial arts teachers need to retain students. But in most fields outside martial arts, people expect to graduate at some point. Don't get stuck because it is in your teacher's interest, but not yours.

Rank is a motivation for beginners. In most cases, rank matters only in your head. Many people quit after reaching shodan because they consider their goals met. If you have already reached your goals outside of rank, then why slog through for the piece of paper?

Martial arts can be a lifelong pursuit, but it does not have to be for you.

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    The last two paragraphs ate spot on and I would like to see them more emphasised. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 17:17

If you love martial arts and are bored with your current school, it may be because it's designed in a predictable way - belts, ranks, etc. You can see where it's leading and it can make you feel boxed into a program. Some will disagree, because many people stay with their style all their lives, but you might find if you leave that school, and try another style, then another after that, that it's more fulfilling than perfecting the one style. This is how it's been for me - I'm 63 and I find the interaction between different styles so satisfying that I practice them all.


I love testing-- the prep period leading up to it is fun to me, so not sure how to motivate you there, but now I have almost 2 years before I can go again, so I understand how you feel about getting bored. These are some things I've done to keep things interesting. Our school's black belts are working on another style of forms. It was refreshing at first to get some brand new material for everyone, and we've been doing it kind of self-directed using books and videos online outside of class, then coming together for instruction, so maybe exploring another style a little on the side would break the monotony and maybe even help you with your style. We also have a weapons class that I'm going to try. Do you have a chance to assist with instruction of lower ranks? Helping or leading will cause you to think about your style in a different way, too. If that's not an option, use your "off time" to work on something specific- i.e. after first Dan I worked on spin kicks every workout for a couple months. I just got my second and now I'm working on footwork. It's nice to have a specific goal to fix or improve on and no "deadline" or immediate testing date, although I've already started thinking about potential breaks and other stuff I'll need for 2019. :)


In my experience burn out or boredom happens to most people at some point in their training. First thing to always be encouraged is talk to your instructor, odds are they have felt the same way at some point and could offer some helpful advice. Personally I found that trying a totally new martial art in conjunction with karate is a good way for me at least to alleviate some of the boredom. It lets you go to a class and learn totally new things and it helps you stay focused and ready when you train karate.

If that isn't possible or you really want to focus on karate then talk to your instructor about really focusing your training on very specific things once you get shodan. For example once I got shodan I talked to my instructor and said I really want to focus on sparring and how grappling interacts with karate. Since then I have been training BJJ for only a couple weeks and already I am looking at things in a new light, eg) using a low block to peel a grip off of one of your hands. My instructor always encouraged this since it brings new and different information to your dojo and develops your skill personally.

I hope what information I could offer helps. And glad on your shodan grading.

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    And good luck on your shodan grading. Jeez I am glad this question is three years old so no one sees that Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 5:44
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    ^_^ Although, responding to it put it right back up at the top. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 11:34

What our club does, is have senior students try new things out together. This can be a new form, or advanced techniques that can be just fun without being practical, or just generally letting them fool around with old forms (which still have to be practiced regularly, of course). Alot of these aren't for any curriculum. They're to further insights and to break from the grind.


If you already have your established base, love martial arts and are tired, maybe it's time to:

  1. Start teaching;
  2. Try new styles as long as you can continue to use your internalized base. Some styles will not force you to "start over" but add complementary techniques and approaches.
  • Assistant instructor here, 2nd Dan. You should always be ready to assist with lower ranks and kids, but I sure wish for a break from the kids' class sometimes. Be careful what you commit to. :P Commented May 31, 2022 at 20:04

Heresy, but... take a break and do something else. I used to do TKD during the winter months and bicycle 2000+ miles in the warmer half of the year. If your instructor/master takes exception to breaks, you'd have to decide what's more important... I would have started over somewhere else rather than stick with something that cost $ and which I didn't enjoy.


Hi everybody my name is jcondo81 i’m a big fan of martial arts just like the next guy. I train martial arts at home because I have to I don’t make a lot of money I can’t afford to run to class run here run there it’s just a waste of time so and let’s face it we all have really busy lives I found the best answer for me Is to either train online or on DVDs all you need is a tv and a DVD player a bubba dummy wing Chung wall Mount dummy and Floor mats for your training room and if you have a learning disability like myself I have to train that way because I know what I need to train on you see if you have a learning disability and if you can do martial arts in my personal experience you do not need an instructor tell you and what you need to work on but you have to be true to yourself and it takes a lot to swallow that bitter pill I do it every day it takes a lot to look inside yourself to see what you need to work on some people may need an instructor and that’s fine too but an instructor points out what you need to work on but what do you feel you need to work on that’s my point you’re basically becoming your own teacher and there’s nothing wrong with that just like all martial arts we have to develop our own martial arts anyway so why not just do it yourself anyway I know a lot of people are going to say you don’t know what you’re talking about but on every DVD I’ve ever watched and believe me I’ve watched a lot of them they always say you have to develop your own style but you’re learning from the DVDs and your Learning from your instructor anyway later on the martial art is going to become your own style I never understood that and I know they say you can’t learn The material off a DVDs well I’m here to tell you yes you can just like now there is a world-famous instructor out there he put out his own personal DVD collection belt ranking I am not going to tell you guys who it is you will have to find that out for yourself just like I did if somebody or a good instructor makes DVDs and these are world class instructors they make all this material for someone to study it but then they say it’s just for instructions only OK then why make the DVD it doesn’t make any sense if someone is studying the material day after day week after week month after month year after year then overtime you’re going to get good then some people out there are going to say what’s not real training why isn’t it the person has to let you put on the technique it’s the same way with a real person that person is letting you putting on the technique on them anyway I’ve waited for just the right moment to read this article with Covid 19 out there we’ve had to train different many ways and now is the perfect time to write this article because let’s face it guys we’ve all had to have trained different ways in our lifetime and now we all had to train at home we’ve all had to find new ways

  • You may want to try splitting this up into more manageable paragraphs. It's a bit of a wall of text. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 2:50

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