By: Dale Norfolk Kickboxing , newblog, fighting, martialartsleeds
“When it comes to performance standards, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate"
The desire to improve oneself is at the heart of a majority of us, whether this is mentally, physically or other factors. It is that need within us to do something to change our current situation. This often begins with the idle dabbling of a search on the internet, it may come as a recommendation from a friend or something more traumatic and galvanising that does this.
My story of arriving at the club is documented, helpfully, on the site itself (Dale's story). But for those of you, and I know who you are, who want the abridged version of these events.
I have always had a fascination with martial arts either performing, writing, reading, watching movies, attending demonstrations. After a long layoff, working too much and needing an escape I hit upon the idea to pick up something I loved once again and here I am.
However, this is not a ‘as the crow flies’ route, they very rarely are. In fact, it was set with false starts and dead ends as these things are. Also, by the strange occurrence and twist of fate3 *channels inner Jeff Hardy4* Sorry wrestling reference as always.
The issue I had when starting again was finding a new club, I had a gym membership, but I had fallen prey to the old perversions of the free weights area and not concentrated on cardio. I needed to be fitter, I needed to be more flexible, I needed to be able to turn my head.
So, I began looking around the internet, tapping criteria into Google and slapping go. After some fruitless searching, I had ruled out some local clubs, as I understood they handed out belts like they were toffees and thought I would have to travel further afield.
A chance discussion with a friend on a night out led me to a kickboxing5 club in east Leeds (name redacted for…reasons), the building they were in was old but looked fairly good. There was a Muay Thai6 class on before the kickboxing, so I got there early, as I tend to do. But the club was not really all that helpful, again good martial artists do sometimes not make good teachers. More than that the long-time club members were too up themselves and you kind of felt like an outsider, no real good drill work was done. There were fitness elements, but it just wasn’t great, they didn’t take in anything people had done before and treated all as newbs .After a very rare sparring session, in which I had a what I felt was a good showing, it seemed people with belts didn’t like getting hit, I decided it wasn’t the place for me. So back I went on the hunt.
Again, an alcohol fuelled crossing with a friend, led to them telling me they were at a club and I should come along. Before returning to a number of funny coloured drinks in a dingy basement club somewhere. That dear readers is where our club came in, that is where I first met Dave, Grant, Richard, Bali and a whole host of other new play pals.
When you are doing these searches it is important that you have some goals that you want from your club, all good things start with good requirements (This is something I know from my professional life so it carries over.) What my main ones were:
- The club MUST feel welcoming, in order to grow my confidence
- The club MUST complete basic technique drills, to build back my skills
- The club MUST have a sparring element, as I enjoy that part.
- The club SHOULD work toward my fitness goals, to grow me further.
- The club SHOULD be within Leeds, to enable an easy commute.
- The club COULD have a range of black belts, who have different experiences
- The club COULD be in a permanent building, to make it easy to travel to.
You should do your own exercise about what a club offers and how they accomplish things and set whether they are in your own estimation and goals. These could include:
- Do they offer personal training
- Do I trust the instructor
- Do I need this martial art
- Do I want to fight
- Do I want to perform kata
- Do I want a traditional art
- Do I want a modern art
- Am I coming with my children
- Will I need support
- Do I have the will power
- Am I willing to listen
- Are martial arts right for me
- Should I prefer striking
- Should I prefer grappling
- Do I just want a taste
- What is my ultimate goal
This list of course is unending and is as much a personal journey as the training itself, you could draw yourself up a little table of what you want and do some comparisons. You could just have a set of questions for the person that is going to be training you, for me, this is vital. You should make sure you are comfortable with those who teach, as they should be comfortable with you.
Hopefully this is a commitment you are going to make for a while, this is not all one sided, it is an agreement between trainer/teacher/sifu7/ sensei8 that goes both ways. They are to teach you as you are there to be taught.
Of course, this talk of tables and promises may be a little daunting, so let me take it back to s simple analogy for this. Much like a machine that produces sausages, what you put into the machine is as important as the machine itself, but the machine can only so much. When you are taking up any sport/class, you should know what you are getting out of it and a fair idea of how.
Here at our club, I think you will agree, we have a plethora of avenues and possibilities, we have the Kick boxing club and the personal training, you can dip happily into either as much as your pocket book will allow. But whatever you do, you find the right combination for you. Always ask yourself, have I got out of this what I wanted and if the answer is ‘No’, do something about it. There are as many different people at our club as there are ways of approaching the same problem, if you need anything, any and all are able to help you. All you need to do is ask.
So, in closing, after any period of inactivity, whether a lay off from serious exercise, change of address, change of mind set or the recovery from an international pandemic. The first step is to decide to do something, the next is making it happen. Be the advocate of your own change.