More than Belt Ranks: Goal Setting for Martial Arts

Goals can help you reach your full potential, no matter the endeavor. With the martial arts journey being a long and tough one, goals are a necessary part of becoming a successful martial artist. Belts are great for giving martial artists a sense of progression, accomplishment, and goal setting. That being said, there are so many other targets martial artists can set to help them succeed.

There are many different types of goals that have different effects on motivation levels. Setting yourself up for success by committing to your goals with accountability will help you see your goals through to the end. Here are some tips to set goals that will help you excel at your martial arts school.


Different Goals, Different Effects

There are many types of goals you can set for success, from short-term to long-term and lifetime goals. In a martial arts context, short-term goals can refer to mastering your current belt level’s kata, by the end of summer, for example. Long-term goals can relate to advancing to your next belt level, by the end of the year, while lifetime goals can refer to getting your 6th degree black belt, later on in life.

In addition to time-dependent goals, we also have outcome and performance goals. To understand which are most effective, we have to discuss the difference between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is fueled by external rewards such as money or gold medals. Intrinsic motivation is fueled by your inner desire – in other words, you’re doing it because it makes you feel good. After time, extrinsic motivation can have the opposite effect, especially if the allure of the external reward diminishes.

Outcome goals refer to a particular result. An example would be setting a goal to get your blue belt or to get a gold medal at this year’s state championships. Performance goals refer to doing the necessary work to get better. Going to four training sessions, every week for a year, or performing 200 kicks per day are examples of performance goals. Because outcome goals are more in line with extrinsic motivation, outnumbering them with performance goals can help you stay motivated, in the long run. Your performance goals will help you achieve your short-term, long-term, and lifetime goals.


Podium Time

Training and attending a martial arts tournament can be a very motivational experience for a lot of martial artists. There are many different motivational goals you can set for yourself. For instance, cutting weight is an integral part of competing in any tournament that has weight classes. Training to be at your top form is also a key component and goal setting can help you get there. You can utilize many performance goals (i.e. throwing at least 30 stiff jabs, in each round) that can help you reach your outcome goals, like winning by TKO.


Write it Down

The health benefits of journaling are well researched but not everyone does it. A 2015 study by the Dominican University of California found that writing your goals down enhances goal achievement. If you don’t keep a journal for your everyday life, we recommend starting one that tracks your martial arts progress. This would be where you’d write out your goals, helping you to stay committed to them. Think of it as your own personal coach, laying out your goals and your current progress.


Take the Time to Talk

Great masters and instructors take the time to chat with each student, once in a while. We’ve discussed it before and it’s a great strategy for getting the most out of your students’ potentials, while also boosting retention rates. A 2013 study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine found that people who shared their goals performed better, perhaps due to increased accountability. Sharing goals can also meet your students’ needs for social connection, making it more likely for them to feel happy about their membership at your martial arts school, while further building trust with your instructors.

Goal setting is also important for martial arts businesses. For more information, check out this webinar recording where Vahid, our VP of Sales, Marketing & Business Development talks about SMART goal setting and why it’s the first step towards achievement for your martial arts school.

What was the biggest goal in martial arts that you’ve accomplished? Let us know on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.