When we sign on for something to better our lives – meditation, a new sport or language, a goal to read more books – we do so in hopes that this new practice will one day become second nature. Like breathing.
However, rather than immediate, measurable goals, these long-term commitments often become a winding journey. We stumble through to pave the path before it becomes well-trodden, and the process quickly weeds out anyone who doesn’t truly want it.
A martial arts practice, like any other, requires consistency to grow. Without consistency, we can’t progress to the next stage – smoother rolls, cleaner punches, or that exciting moment when you earn a new belt.
Leveling up at Easton Training Center looks a lot like any other commitment you make to yourself. You show up, put in the work, and eventually that work speaks for itself.
While promotions shouldn’t become your primary reason for training, they do pose helpful markers along the path of your growth. If you’re interested in setting some measurable goals in your martial arts practice, here are the things that coaches look for when considering promotions.
Are you putting in the time?
One of the initial factors we look at when promoting students to the next belt is time. Have you spent enough time at this belt level? Are you consistently coming to class and working hard at understanding the technique?
However, reaching the minimum number of hours is only one of the baseline factors we look to when considering promotions.
Are you honing your skills?
How well do you understand the curriculum? Are you technically adept enough to move up to the next belt? How do your rolls look when you train with others; are your rounds controlled and deliberate, or spastic and panicked?
Are you trying new things, or are you just using the same three moves every time you train?
In order to grow, you have to try new moves and be okay with not winning every round. The only way your game will expand and grow is if you try new techniques.
Are you helping others grow?
While we don’t expect every person on the mats to become an Easton coach, we do expect you to be able to roll with a lower belt and encourage them in their training with tips and guidance.
If you are constantly picking lower belts to train with because you want to win, and never helping bring them up and elevate their game, we’ll take note of that. You won’t get where you want to be on your own, and without good training partners, you won’t grow at all.
This growth isn’t linear. Some weeks or months it may feel like you’re not making any progress at all. That’s normal. Your training will plateau at times, usually before a period of growth. Take it in stride and keep showing up.
Trust the process
Maybe you think you’re ready for a promotion, but you haven’t received it yet. You’ve put in the right amount of time, you know you’ve got the classes…but why aren’t you getting promoted?
Remember, meeting these requirements doesn’t automatically equate to a new belt. Your coaches are paying attention to you, and ultimately your coach makes the decision.
If you think you’re overdue for a promotion, instead of getting mad and complaining about it, opt to ask your coach what skills you need to learn to be ready for the next belt. You’re not getting overlooked – your coaches see where you’re at and will be happy to share pointers and areas to work on.
Handle with care (and humility)
Studying martial arts means leaving your ego at the door. This also means you should never ask for a promotion.
“Hey, give me my blue belt – I want my blue belt.”
“When am I getting my blue belt?”
Please, don’t do this. What you can do, however, is approach the subject from a place of curiosity and humility. You’re here to get better. So find out how.
“Hey, I really want to be a blue belt one day — how do I get there?”
“What do I need to work on to get to blue belt?”
We’ll know you care, and we’ll help you get there.
In the end, it’s about growth. We feel a thrill at having read twenty books because we now have twenty more books-worth of knowledge filed away inside our minds, the shelves of which have been refined and sharpened by each author’s words and concepts. Not because we’ll win a prize for reading. Your world view has expanded; it’ll never shrink back to its previous size.
Remember, there’s no shortcuts, just consistent work.