Weekly Training Focus
A weekly training focus is important for any skill that you are trying to improve. However, it is absolutely essential if you are a martial arts practitioner or instructor. If you attend Auburn Martial Arts school you may have noticed that Chief Master Lovas operates each week with a targeted focus and encourages each of his students to pick a personal workout goal. There are many reasons for that. Having a targeted focus each week singles out specific skill and rapidly improves it. This increased focus also helps to maintain workout discipline. There are many examples of weekly focuses that you can employ both in your personal training and in the martial arts school.
When you begin training martial arts you will be introduced to many new skills. Most of the time you are probably only going to class twice a week. This means you need to add in some at home practice if you intend on really developing those newly taught skills. Picking a specific skill and focusing on that item as your primary practicing feature allows you quality time to develop proficiency. Also, varying your weekly focus ensures that you will not reach a plateau in your muscle development. As you work out, you're muscles grow. If you always practice the same thing over and over, your muscles will get used to that activity and stop growing. If you change your focus from week to week this lack of growth will be avoided. Maintaining this weekly focus allows you to set clear, short-term goals for each skill.
As an instructor of a martial arts class, having a weekly focus is your key to producing quality students. Your students want to learn the skills you have to teach them. Rapidly throwing random skills at your practitioners could be daunting for the instructor and student. If you have a clear set of skills that you intend on teaching each week the chance of success is increased. Students will also get very bored if they are being taught the exact same information each week. They will become complacent and question the logic of staying in your class. Having a clear focus for each week ensures that your students will be introduced to a new stream of information at a rate that is easy to process. Having interested, engaged and happy students is the key to any martial art school's success. Another advantage for your school is, if you have multiple instructors, a weekly training focus puts each of them on the same exact page. You want your instructors to be following the same path you are and teaching the students in the exact same way. This way the students do not become frustrated and confused when hearing advice from multiple instructors.
Another huge advantage for the martial arts practitioner or instructor with a clear weekly focus is that workout disciple is maintained. It is not always easy to show up for class or practice a few times a week outside of the martial arts school. Learning martial arts takes a big commitment from both the practitioner and the instructor. Motivation to keep learning and teaching is the key to maintaining this discipline. If you have a weekly focus with a short-term goal, achieving that goal feels awesome. It skyrockets practitioner and instructor confidence. Having a weekly focus makes it possible to easily track progress and identify problems that could occupy the focus of another week. Being able to feel good about what your excelling at and targeting areas that need improvement, not only makes you a well rounded martial artists, it makes you feel the satisfaction that your practice time was well worth the effort.
Within the United World Taekwon Do Association (UWTA), the system that Auburn Martial Arts is a part of, there are clearly defined focus points for each week of an eight week cycle. The first week is a fun week. It is the week after testing when students and instructors focus on things that are a little more laid back. They review the material from the previous testing cycle in a fun way. Then there is basics week. This is when the new skills that will be used in forms or self-defense are introduced. After that there is kicks week. This is when new kicks are introduced and previous kicks are reviewed. Then there is Poomsae (or forms) week. This is when new forms are introduced. After that is a self-defense week when the focus is on new defensive techniques or sparring practice. The week that comes next is a training week to improve the physical prowess of students. Then there is a week for preparing for testing and ensuring that all required skills are up to par. Finally it is testing week when the skills are reviewed and the focus turns to increasing confidence so that performance anxiety is reduced.
As a martial arts practitioner my personal workout goals often vary from class activities, while ensuring that the presented information is being improved. For example, during fun week my personal training often turns to increasing cardiovascular performance. This is achieved with a focus on bag training or sparring footwork. I also practice previous material after a cardio challenge. During the second week, basics, I add any new material to my previous skills and focus on practicing them all in rapid succession. This increases muscle memory and strength of the move. During kicks week, my legs get fried during class sessions so at home I often slow down my workouts and focus on my previous forms. I practice them slow and use it as a time to meditate rather than practicing for strength and perfection. During poomse week, I often increase my own cardio levels again at home since class is often less intensive. I use it as a time to focus on new kicks I learned and bag work, followed by poomse practice. During training week and self-defense week, class time can be very physically draining. It is time to slow down my home practice again and focus on slow motion kicks, strikes, improving self-defense techniques (pick one or two and stay focused there). During test prep and testing week all of my practice turns to specific skills that will be tested. I do not want to tax my cardio level or put myself at risk of injury during this time.
The weekly training focus can not be over looked. You can assess what needs improvement and adjust your weekly focus, just make sure you pick one and go with it. If you are instructing and your school does not have a set program to follow, develop one. It will help your students out tremendously. If you are not employing focus in your own workouts it will be harder to maintain motivation or achieve the amount of success you could have with clear cut goals.