5 Ways to Instill Martial Arts Discipline in Your Students

Mastering a martial art is a lifelong journey; this road is extremely difficult and cannot be achieved without a healthy dose of discipline. Discipline is what enables us to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Without discipline, the martial arts may simply become just an exercise. We’ve talked about the importance of teaching martial arts discipline at your school and this blog post will show you a few ways to do just that.



Discipline for Kids

The fact that martial arts instill discipline in kids is one of the primary motivators for parents to enroll their children in your school. Discipline with children will be focused on not only creating a work ethic but also developing their ability to focus and hold down their urges. Focusing on senior instructors who are good with dealing with kids then training them on effectively teaching discipline will do a wonder for your school.



Discipline for Adults

Among many of the benefits of martial arts for adults, martial arts discipline for adults is slightly different than for kids. For adults, the most difficult part for many will be the ability to prioritize. When things get busy at home or work, it may be difficult for them to attend every class, as well as find the time to practice what they’ve learned. Focusing on providing a high level of instruction, as well as encouraging your adult students to put their martial arts practice near the top of their priority lists, will help in allowing discipline to flourish. Once they do, the feelings of achievement should help fuel their journey in martial arts discipline.



Gradual and Consistent

An important point to remember is that learning discipline isn’t going to happen overnight. Rushing discipline can lead to burnout, injuries and a decline in interest. Cultivating and maintaining a culture of discipline and achievement at your school (and having good senior student role models exemplifying this culture) is the first step to having creating a long lasting air of martial arts discipline that surrounds you school. Just as the martial arts themselves are a lifelong process of learning, martial arts discipline is a road we must continuously travel.



Nurture their Intrinsic Motivation 

Many martial arts schools provide external pressures to motivate their students. That being said, intrinsic motivation is key to building discipline. Intrinsic motivation in terms of martial arts is to practice martial arts for the pleasure and satisfaction obtained, not for any monetary or material benefit. The majority of martial artists don’t receive money or prizes for belt testing, so avoiding those benefits isn’t a huge concern. However, the importance of building intrinsic motivation is high. In other words, make the process challenging yet enjoyable. While traditional martial arts follow a strict hierarchy with various rules, find opportunities when you can give your students autonomy. Many studies have found that when coaches place emphasis on the athlete’s self-initiation, the athlete is more likely to be intrinsically motivated to achieve.


Goal Setting

Goals are incredibly important in cultivating martial arts discipline; students need something to work toward to train their self-discipline. Having one of your senior instructors sit down with all of your students in between belt tests is a great way to set goals and SMART goals are a great place to start. Essentially, all goals made should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Some aspects of SMART goals are more important for different people. For example, for kids, the specific and time-bound factors may be of greater importance, as they have limited attention spans and they usually lack the general discipline found in more adults. For adults, the achievable and relevant factors may be more important, as a lack of achievability may lead to discouragement and lack of relevance will bring on disinterest.


Check out our blog post on martial arts success and integrity, for a look at another important trait of a successful martial artist.


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