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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??

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    "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 Aug 23 '16 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 Aug 23 '16 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 Aug 23 '16 at 22:00
  • How often do you compete/fight? – coinbird Feb 27 '18 at 20:17
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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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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.

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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. :)

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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 – Joelhutchinson Mar 11 '19 at 5:44
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    ^_^ Although, responding to it put it right back up at the top. – Macaco Branco Mar 11 '19 at 11:34
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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.

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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.
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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.

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