Martial Arts for Beginners - Tips from the Top 3 Day Series / Day 1

Martial Arts for Beginners - Tips from the Top 3 Day Series / Day 1

Martial Arts for Beginners - Tips from the Top 3 Day Series / Day 1

No matter which Martial Art or Combat Sport you want to start training in, Martial Arts for beginners is daunting. Especially for an adult beginner. The very nature of these disciplines is physical and from the outside they can often appear intimidating. It is very common to feel clumsy, inadequate or even downright stupid when first starting out. However, the old cliche is true, every black belt was once a white belt.

A photo of a white belt from the blog post on Martial Arts for beginners on the Warrior Collective

As hard as it might be, you have to go through a period of being terrible at it before you can ever be great at it. This obviously can feel more difficult in Martial Arts as the resistance based training (such as sparring, grappling or wrestling) can often see you pitted against those with more experience in a one Vs one context, where you can often feel poor in comparison.

I have been to countless gyms in lots of different countries through my work on the Warrior Collective. I am also in touch with a lot more because of the digital age we now live in. I can tell you that most of the problems faced by beginners are exactly the same everywhere.

This common issue however has enabled coaches from every discipline to gain a huge amount of experience in seeing what works best for new starters and what doesn't. Couple this with the fact that each of these individuals has also been in the position of being a beginner and you have the perfect combination of factors that allow a real understanding to be developed in this arena.

This short 5 day series is about speaking to a large number of the world's best coaches, fighters and athletes across a wide range of different martial arts/combat sports disciplines in order to pick their brains and see just what advice they would offer in the context of Martial Arts for beginners..

Panicos Yusuf - World Muay Thai Champion and Head Coach of All Powers Gym

Things I've noticed over the years from teaching beginners in Muay Thai is taking that first step in the gym as can be intimidating. They feel that they are being watched and criticised by others so may feel uncomfortable. The main thing to understand is that everyone gets on with their training (they don't stand watching beginners pointing the finger on how poor their technique or fitness is).

Don't be scared to pair up with an experienced person, more often than not they have no ego and will always be more than happy to help.

Don't worry about getting the footwork and technique perfect in the first few sessions. You will also find your coordination may not be right, but it will come in time. It's like learning to walk again, the movements are unfamiliar. The more time you put into training the faster you will improve and lastly enjoy the process!

Danny Mitchell - UFC Vet, BJJ black belt and Head coach of AVT MMA

I would say don't be afraid to try other gyms and change things up if you feel like you arent getting what you want. A lot of martial arts instructors demand loyalty, but how do you know the gym you walk into is going to be right for you in the long run? If you find the perfect place for you then by all means dedicate yourself to it, but I see many people held back just because they don’t want to offend their current coach.

Life is short, try different gyms, travel and train abroad, meet other likeminded people, don’t be held back by coaches who try to make you feel bad, coaches who encourage you to go out and learn more are the ones you will benefit from.

After all, martial arts is fun, so go enjoy it and die happy.

Rosi Sexton - UFC Vet and Combat Sports Osteopath

Quality over quantity. More isn't always better. The key to getting good is making sure that you're getting the most value you can for the hours you spend on the mat. Working hard and putting the time in is important - but the difference between those who are world class and the rest is not always how much time they spend training, it's what they're doing in that time.

Strength training. A good strength programme doesn't just improve your performance, it can also reduce your risk of injury.

Steve Campbell - BJJ black belt and Head coach of Stealth BJJ

1. Hygiene - Don’t be that guy/girl
2. Don’t train if you’re not well
3. Start in a class at or below your level. Basics are important
4. Learn the gym etiquette
5. Know the sparring rules
6. Don’t overtrain at the start, it won’t do you any favours
7. Tap early!!
8. Enjoy yourself and skills will come with time.
9. Use YouTube wisely. Too much info can be overwhelming.
10. Higher grades will probably help you more if you don’t try to kill them in sparring (especially when you’re starting off).

Sean Fagan - Champion Muay Thai Fighter and Internationally renowned Blogger

Focus on DEFENSE. Anyone can learn how to throw a punch or kick, but when it comes to learning how to avoid being hit, very few people (especially early on in their training) focus on the art of defense.

When I first started fighting I figured aggression, toughness and good cardio would win fights - and it did - but in hindsight I ended up taking more damage than I should have. There also came a point where everyone I fought had the same level of toughness and aggression, and that’s where technique and defense were even more vital.

Basically, if you want to be the best and avoid long term injuries, then defense, footwork and movement should be a major focus in your training.

Lucien Carbin - Former Multiple times World Champion and Head coach of Carbin All Styles

My main piece of advice is that you have to work on your balance and try to stay very calm in the head. Remain composed, otherwise you lose control.

Craig Ewers - Judo/BJJ black belt and Head coach of Craig Ewers Academy

A problem for new students is the amount of information available; often it can be tempting to try & study a large number of techniques.

Try to build your game around a central threat; in Japanese Judo this is termed ‘tokui-waza’ it should typically be a major throw such as ‘Osoto-Gari or Uchimata’ in BJJ/Grappling again this should be a high percentage tournament move that can be executed from a number of positions; and perhaps suits your body type or you have had some success with already in training i.e triangle, armbar, guillotine etc.

Try and then base your game around that central technique; entrances into the position; finishing details; countering opponents defensive reactions with secondary techniques etc.

This will lead to a genuine threat in sparring/competition, whilst proving a faster and more in-depth study; later the principle can be applied to any technique that you want to master & add to your game & the ‘Tokui-Waza’ may change naturally over time.

Tony Moran - Boxing World Champion and Pro MMA Fighter

Always show respect and loyalty if it is deserved, toward your coach/sensei.
But if your talent outgrows their teachings, thank them for all they have been the catalyst for and seek out a suitable other.

Royston Wee - UFC Vet and coach at Impact MMA

It's important to find a good coach. A coach who is truly a good person, genuinely knows his stuff, and teaches a person based on what he/she is weak at as well as developing strengths. Rather following a cookie cutter "one technique fits all students" kind of approach.

Also, it is very important for beginners to understand the importance of slow. Enjoy the process of movements by slowing it down, making it flow. Fighting, combat/contact sports are not about speed and power all the time. Too many people focus on working on what is least important.

Focus on taking it slow, understanding balance, weight transfer, precision, timing, accuracy, relaxation, proper form. Good technique will get you far, without that, being fit will just make you that, it won't make you a successful fighter.

Casey Jones - BJJ black belt and Head coach of SBG Shropshire

The best people train the most often, period! Sort your life out so you can train as often as possible. Don’t blame work or relationships. People that go in early and work hard generally get given a bit of slack to leave early by their bosses to train.

People that make the effort to support their partners and do what’s important for them generally don’t have a problem spending evenings in the gym because their partners understand and appreciate the efforts they make.

Don’t just expect everyone to get behind you. Show them you’re worth backing!

Eli Knight - BJJ black belt and Head coach of Knight BJJ

Breathe. It’s the easiest thing and the hardest thing. Being new to training, or anything for that matter, is stressful physically and psychologically. You’ll be told to relax or be patient or some variation of this. Take that time to focus on your breath.Whenever you can replace an abstract concept with an actionable one, such as focusing on your breath when you’re told to relax, it is a good thing. So if you want to relax, focus on your breath. If you want to attack, focus on your defense first. If you want to win, first figure out how not to lose. Learn how to maintain motivation and direction while not being too emotionally invested in the outcome.

Even at the height of competition or fighting, recognize you have work ahead of you and go to it. The more present you can be in the moment, not excessively stressed about the future or regretful to the past, the more focused and ultimately successful you will be.

I hope you have enjoyed Day 1 of this mini series on Martial Arts for Beginners! Make sure you check back for Day 2 tomorrow!! Let me know what you think in the comments below!!

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