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October 23, 2023

Action and Accountability In Martial Arts (And Life)

Ryan Otto

Action and Accountability In Martial Arts (And Life)

Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu are not just combat sports; they come with a lifestyle that demands dedication, discipline, and a constant pursuit of improvement.

At the core of mastering these martial arts — and succeeding in any growth space that requires us to show up and get work done — lies a powerful duo: action and accountability.

Action, of course, means doing something, and accountability involves goal setting, evaluation, feedback, and communication.

As with anything in life, you can go through the motions and make a little progress. However, if you really want to get good at Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu or anything else, you must make action consistent and hold yourself accountable.

Action for success 

The foundation for progress is action: you must go to the academy and train to improve. However, “action” doesn’t just about showing up at Easton or hitting the pads; it’s about consistently pushing your limits — even when it’s tough, even when you don’t feel like it, even when it’s snowing, or a beautiful day outside, and even when you’re tired.

Action means doing the conditioning portions of classes equally as hard, if not harder than when you’re hitting the bag or hitting the pads. It meas being present through the discomfort of having your partner flatten you in side control.

Taking consistent action will improve your physical conditioning as regular training builds strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. Through action, you gradually adapt to the demands of the sport, becoming stronger and more resilient. If you train once a week or sporadically, you won’t see much improvement.

If you train several times a week for weeks, months, or years, you will experience big improvements.

Image: Matthew Barton.

Action can and should also occur outside the walls of Easton. Think about all the time that you spend not at Easton – what are you doing to improve yourself during that time outside of the academy?

If you’re getting wiped out in training or sparring – or even if you aren’t – we all should be doing something else outside of the academy to improve. Weightlifting, swimming, running, HIIT workouts, or starting a training program make some excellent supplements to class time.

Martial arts is a lifestyle, so make training in some form a part of your everyday life, even on the days you don’t come in to Easton.

[Why We Mix Up Strength Training With Conditioning Exercises]

Action on every front

Action doesn’t just mean the action take directly related to a particular topic or task – it means becoming mindful of how all the actions we take impact us and those around us.

For example, a big part of improvement in martial arts comes down to mindfulness around what we’re putting in our body.

The old phrase “you are what you eat” isn’t exactly true in the sense that, if you eat a banana, you don’t become one. However, I could change the phrase to “your performance directly relates to what you eat.”

If you feel lethargic and weak in training and feel like you’re not improving, but you’re eating fast food every day, then you should clean up your diet. Eat more protein, good fats, lots of vegetables, and cut back on sugar.

You can make choices that set you up for success or make choices that time and time again, produce the same undesirable result. Your success and improvement depend completely on nobody but you.

True mastery comes through many hours of hands-on experience. Practicing techniques repeatedly refines muscle memory and enhances your execution, making you a more proficient fighter. The more action you take, the more skill development you’ll experience.

Each step forward boosts your self-confidence, and the more challenging things that you do, the better equipped you will be to face new challenges going forward. When we avoid challenges, we remain weak and unable to face hard things.

The cumulation of your consistent action improves your physical fitness, skills and builds confidence, and confidence is a powerful thing — especially when coupled with a physical strong, highly skilled, mentally tough person.

Image: Mike Phipps.


When you know where you’re going (your goal) and you know what it’ll take to get there (action), the final, most important factor in both martial arts and life comes down to accountability.

Accountability involves holding yourself responsible for your training, progress, and actions. You acknowledge both successes and setbacks. Whether your accountability is to yourself or to your training partners or friends, when you hold yourself accountable, you’re less likely to skip training sessions or cut corners. Your commitment to consistency ensures that you don’t stagnate, as progress is directly linked to regular practice.

Often, we couple accountability with goal-setting. Setting specific goals and tracking your progress helps keep you motivated. When you’re accountable for achieving these goals, you’re more likely to put in the effort required to surpass them.

Embracing accountability means welcoming feedback from trainers and peers. Constructive criticism helps you identify areas for improvement that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. It’s not easy to hear constructive feedback, but rather than letting it bring you down, use it to improve and trust the intention of whoever is giving it.

Image: Mike Phipps.

Your actions are the stepping stones towards your goals, and accountability ensures you stay on the path to success. To hold yourself more accountable, set clear intentions for your training. These intentions then drive your actions!

Accountability empowers you to face obstacles head-on, findig solutions and alternatives to keep progressing. Every action you take and every milestone you achieve becomes a reason to celebrate. Acknowledging these wins boosts your morale and fuels your commitment to further action.

Progress doesn’t happen in one day. Progress happens when you consistently put in the work, inside and outside of Easton, when you set goals, and when you hold yourself accountable to those goals. Always move forward!

Image: Mike Phipps.


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