Why You Aren’t Getting Better: Why Not All Practice Makes Perfect

Why you aren_t getting better in martial arts

How do I get better?

How do I get better?

This is one of the most common questions within martial arts. People want to improve their skills as quickly as possible. 

Let’s start with the bad news: There are no shortcuts. You need to put in the time and effort.

Now for the good news: with the right sort of practice, pretty much anyone can develop incredible abilities. (1)

Do you know someone who has been practicing martial arts for a long time, and they still aren’t very good? This is common, and it comes down to what they have been doing for all of that time.

First, as stated earlier, there are no shortcuts. Time is needed to get good at things. 

As Harvard Business Review puts it, “The journey to truly superior performance is neither for the faint of heart nor for the impatient.” (2)

Second, deliberate practice is necessary for really improving your skills.

What is deliberate practice? 

There are a few main components of deliberate practice:


On a specific goal

  • Mindless practice is just that- mindless. Set intentions and specific goals of what to work on. Don’t just hit pads, even with the goal of hitting them “better”. Define what that is. Are you going to work on rotating your hips? Keeping your off hand up? Shifting your weight into your punches? Turning your hip over on your kicks? Decide on your goal, and focus on it throughout that exercise.

On incremental advances

  • These lead to big results over time.