Motivation is your ability to begin and continue action. It’s what makes you wake up and want to train day in and day out. But how do we maintain our motivation when training becomes mundane?

The Reality of Learning Martial Arts

Before we discuss the simple steps to improve your motivation for martial arts training, let’s first briefly examine the reality of learning any skill. What day- to- day training is really about.

“The Grind” appears when the new and exciting aspects of training wear off.

Taking in new fighting techniques can be fun and exciting, but the reality is that it takes a lot of repetition to make these techniques your own. You have to assimilate this information into your current skill set. So in reality, after you have been shown a new fighting technique, what you are left with is hard and repetitive work.

This is when you are most likely to quit training.


To get through the toughest periods of training you must be intrinsically motivated. Your motivation gets you through the Grind. There are two distinct types of motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is where you do the task to get something in return, say a reward.

Intrinsic motivation is where you do a task for the sake of doing it.

There is evidence to suggest that fighters who work through the Grind are more likely to enjoy the process. Process being the key word. Meaning they may not enjoy the Grind itself, but they derive pleasure from working towards a goal.

The Grind is repetitive work, sometimes hard and exhausting, sometimes simply slow and monotonous. Some fighters can embrace the Grind, others fall foul of it. The reality of learning is that you can’t hate or avoid the Grind; you should embrace it, and to do so you must be internally motivated.

Now, let’s look at 3 Ways to embrace the Grind and stay motivated in training.

  1. Goal Setting

Setting goals is a great strategy for your motivation. Essentially you are giving yourself objectives to keep you focused and providing a reason to endure the Grind.

These should be both long- and short- term goals.

Short term could be simple steps such as improving your Jab by the end of the month.

Long term could be having as many variations in your jab by the end of the year.

It’s not necessary to have a long- term goal of being the best fighter. This is not helpful, it doesn’t provide you with a roadmap to be great, and it certainly won’t motivate you through the Grind. Besides, your training will become extrinsically motivated.

  1. Visualisation

When you hesitate to put your time and effort into training, remind yourself why you are training in the first place. Visualise what success looks like and remind yourself how much hard work it will take to make your vision a reality. You could even imagine the sense of pride you will feel and explore these feelings when embracing the Grind.

However, there is another power tool used by many Special Forces operators during combat. This is a Mental Trigger.

It’s a simple cue to remind you what you are fighting for, when times are hard have a reason to fight. It doesn’t matter what that reason, as long as you activate it during intense periods of training.

  1. Association

Train yourself to mentally associate the toughest part of training with positive outcomes. The more you endure, the more benefit you will see to your perseverance.

Lastly, associate yourself socially with other fighters that are highly motivated to train. Find training partners who are intrinsically motivated. There are immense benefits to be gained from finding individuals that are like minded in their training.

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