When I was in my 20s, I remember a time when I thought about how my training had become stagnant. It felt like I was not improving anymore. I didn’t see what I didn’t see and I was not challenging myself in different ways. I kept working with the same training partners, mastering the same techniques, and not accepting my technical mistakes as an issue I could improve upon. But addressing fundamental technical issues in my craft was necessary..
I remember being drawn to practicing advanced techniques based on skills and aggression, and watched too many Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal movies. Not enough attention and guidance from my instructors contributed to this twisted self-prescription of what I thought I needed to master. My focus was on sparring, gun and knife disarming techniques, and anything that looked super cool, but in fact, it was far from what my daily routine and potential threats looked like. It didn’t address my needs, only my wishes. Practicing tactics and strategies would have served me better.
Feeling like I had plateaued, I was mostly unhappy with my instructor for not teaching me more of the “cool things” which I considered as my growth metrics. Young enough to think I knew best, only decades later did I realize that I felt my cup was full, and that is why it was harder to teach me. I didn’t hit stagnation; I was unknowingly unwilling to learn. I did not recognize the need for change in my view.
There are so many metrics to measure because Krav Maga has so many facets that I never even considered looking for. Basically, it’s all of the training benefits that you cannot put on a brochure because it would sound “over-promising.”
Even if you feel as though you have reached a plateau and believe you have “mastered” all self-defense techniques—a misconception, as there is invariably more to learn—it is crucial to recognize the numerous, often overlooked benefits of continuous practice.
Progress in activities like Krav Maga isn’t solely about physical improvements or mastering new techniques. Mental resilience, stress management, reaction times, and situational awareness are equally important. If you’re only measuring progress through physical achievements, you might overlook significant improvements in these other areas. So when students tell me they feel like they have plateaued, I always wonder if they can see those improvements.
Some of the metrics I consider in training, in addition to the physical skills, are:
- Enhancing Situational Awareness: Developing an acute sense of your surroundings. This helps reduce anxiety, become more prepared, and remove the target off your back.
- Building Self-Confidence: Cultivating a robust sense of self-assurance through mastery of self-defense techniques.
- Sustained Confidence: Confidence fluctuates, and we must do all we can to maintain a confident demeanor. Regular practice helps!
- Cognitive and Physical Resilience: Regular training helps to keep the mind and body in good shape and manage stress effectively.
- Adaptability in the Face of Uncertainty: Learning to navigate uncertain situations and devising “simple solutions to complex challenges.”
- Improved Coordination: Enhancing the ability to execute physical movements with precision.
- Neurological Connectivity: Strengthening the neural pathways through practicing movement and connecting between feelings and actions.
- Physical Strength, Mobility, and Flexibility: Building those physical capabilities that are essential for advancement in Krav Maga, but not just that, for all kinds of physical activities.
- Enhanced Spatial Orientation: Developing an understanding of one’s position in space and the ability to move accurately and efficiently.
- Self-Control: Accuracy, precision, and speed are just a small part of the ability to control movement. One of the main mental aspects of self-control is the temper and the ability to contain uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
- Anxiety Reduction: Mitigating feelings of anxiety through movement, endorphins, and a sense of empowerment.
- Preservation of Progress: Understanding that stopping practice doesn’t just pause progress. It is a rewind. Just as a week of inactivity can significantly impact physical condition. Continuous practice is essential for maintaining and enhancing gains. Practice should be based not on motivation but on discipline!
*This is a partial list of what should be expected from training.
Continuing your training is not just about maintaining the status quo; it’s about preserving and building upon the progress you’ve made. Each session reinforces your skills, mental fortitude, and physical health, ensuring that you do not regress but instead continue to advance in your self-defense journey.
Often, I noticed people who believed they plateaued, but, in fact, what I saw was growth and how much they had changed. It’s when things get less exciting that you see what is in your muscle memory and how much you can trust your body. Don’t confuse excitement with progress!
Just recently, a student who felt this way came to me and said that in just a few words I had said during class changed her relationship with her training, and she suddenly felt more confident and motivated and engaged a different point of view on the mat. I always tell people that the fastest way to learn is slowly. Understand the basic movements, don’t build bad habits right in the beginning, and once you feel more confident, speed up a bit. Before you know it, you will be the one helping the “new guy” in class.
What metrics do we have for improvements? Level testing – measuring your work under pressure, fatigue, and uncertainty. Checking how your body reacts to many different techniques in a short amount of time.
Concrete Benchmarks like level testing are vital, just like your annual check-up with your doctor. Without specific benchmarks or goals, it’s very challenging to track progress. This might include not only mastering specific techniques but also improving fitness levels, sparring proficiency, or staying calm under pressure. I never underestimate the importance of thinking instead of panicking, which is what regular training does!
Some People Actually Plateau. Wonder Why? Keep reading.
When people find themselves not progressing or improving their craft, there could be several reasons behind this “stuckness.” Identifying and addressing these factors is key to overcoming stagnation and enhancing skill development. Here are some common reasons why progress might stall:
- Inconsistent Practice: Regular practice is crucial for improvement in any physical skill. If you’re not attending classes or practicing regularly, your progress will stall.
- Lack of Variety in Training: Doing the same routines or drills repeatedly can lead to a plateau. Variety challenges your body and mind, helping you to improve.
- Insufficient Challenge: If the training doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone, your skills won’t improve significantly.
- You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It: Some students show up on the mat a few times a week, while others show up only once or twice a month. It is not only the number of classes you take but also the level of effort you make in class. Some finish the classes executed, while others are almost “refreshed.” Why is that? Some tried very hard, and others tried not as hard. There’s a direct correlation between what you get out of it and what you put into it.
- Limited Feedback and Corrections: Without regular feedback from instructors or more experienced practitioners, you might be reinforcing bad habits. If you feel you need more feedback, don’t hesitate to speak to me, or to your instructor directly after class.
- Ignoring Fundamental Techniques: Focusing too much on advanced techniques without mastering the basics can hinder progress.
- Physical Conditioning: Krav Maga requires a certain level of physical fitness. Neglecting overall strength, flexibility, and endurance will limit your ability.
- Mental Blocks: Fear, lack of confidence, or mental fatigue can significantly affect learning and performance. If you feel this way, I am here to help. I have an open-door policy.
- Not Setting Specific Goals: If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Without clear, achievable goals, it’s hard to maintain focus and measure progress.
- Insufficient Rest and Recovery: Over training without adequate rest can lead to burnout, injuries, and decreased performance.
- Nutritional Factors: Poor nutrition will affect your energy levels, recovery, and overall performance. And, even cause mental blocks! Food can be medicinal, but can also be poisonous.
To overcome these barriers, it’s important to evaluate your training habits, seek feedback from instructors, set realistic goals, and address any physical or mental health issues. Adjusting your approach to training, including diversifying your routines, ensuring adequate rest and nutrition, and focusing on both mental and physical aspects of the activity, can help break through plateaus and foster improvement.
Strategies for Overcoming These Barriers:
- Diversify Metrics of Success: Include both qualitative and quantitative measures of success in your training diary or progress journal. Track not only physical benchmarks but also improvements in mental well-being, confidence, and other soft skills.
- Embrace Change and Feedback: Be open to changing your training routine, seeking additional resources, or adjusting your goals based on professional feedback and self-reflection.
- Seek Self-Improvement: Focus on improving yourself in a holistic manner. This includes looking beyond the training mat and addressing lifestyle factors that impact your performance.
- Take Responsibility: Own your training journey. This means actively seeking feedback, being honest about your efforts and areas for improvement, and recognizing the role of personal effort in achieving success.
Addressing these additional perspectives can help break through a plateau by encouraging a broader view of what constitutes progress and success in physical activities like Krav Maga.
And you know what? It is also okay to be plateaued sometimes. We don’t always have to be rewarded instantly for our efforts. Remember the Life Lesson From an Apple Seed article? If not, take 3 minutes to read it again.
If you feel that you need direction, more attention, or if you feel you need to be more guided – reach out to me.
Do something amazing,
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts