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5 Tips To Help You Learn Your New Martial Arts Form

As a student moving up through the ranks, one thing I always looked forward to after getting a new belt was learning a new form.

But, even though I LOVED learning new forms, sometimes it could be pretty challenging...

and confusing...

and awkward...

and just plain hard!

If you're reading this, then you probably feel the same way.

But, don't worry! Because I've got 5 tips to help make learning your new form easy.

1. Break it down

This is my first tip because it is one of the most effective.

So many people try to learn a whole new form all at once! But, considering that some of our forms can be up to 65 movements long, that can be a tough task.

Instead, break the form down into short, easy to remember sections. Work on each section one at a time until you’ve got them all down.

Be patient. Don’t move on to the next section until you get the previous one just right. It will pay off!

2. Write it down

Taking notes might seem obvious, but most people NEVER take any notes when they learn martial arts.

It’s not even hard. All you need is a pen and paper. You don’t even break a sweat!

Just jot down the basic moves of the form.

If you have time, you can add more elaborate explanations. Or, if you are artistic you can make an illustrated guide to the movements of the form.

The great thing about taking notes is even if you don’t read them again, the act of writing the form down will help you remember it better!

Just be sure to do it as soon after class as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to remember the right moves.

3. Talk it Out

One thing that I students tend to do when learning a new form is they try to go WAY too fast.

You see, when you are just learning a new form you haven’t had enough time to develop the muscle memory needed to perform it quickly.

Next time you catch your self making the same mistakes over and over and OVER again, try “talking it out” to slow yourself down and regain focus.

Here’s how it works:

Before each move, describe what you are about to do. Make sure you say how you are going to step, which direction you are going, the stance you will use, and the technique you will perform.

The reason why this works is because it helps forces you to take your time and focus on each individual move.

4. See it in Your Mind

In sport psychology, the benefits of visualising have been proven in countless studies.

Every time you visualize your form, the neuro-muscular pathways associated with that form’s movements strengthen in your mind and body.

It’s like training without training.

Here are 2 basic ways of visualizing:

a) Internal Perspective – This is when you see the form performed from your own point of view.

b) External Perspective – This is when you see the form performed from outside your own body, like a spectator.

Which one works best?

It’s very individual. Try both ways!

The 5th and final tip is the simplest. But, also the most important….


Because if it was easy, everyone would do it. And nothing worth having comes easy.

Good luck!

Brian Schmidt

Master Instructor

Traditional Martial Arts Center

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