Many students begin their martial art journey with the black belt in mind, while others may only begin to envision a black belt once they’ve begun training and climbing through the belt ranks. Either way, all start with enthusiasm, confidence, and determination but few make it to advanced belts and fewer still to black belts.

The physical challenges of training are expected but a black belt journey also requires perseverance. Bad days and stalled progression can make training a difficult commitment, and soon you’re off the black belt path. Motivation challenges will always be present but setting some basic goals and keeping focused on your journey can help you stay on track…

Set Your Goals

Black belt is the ultimate goal but there are many steps in between. Keep that black belt in mind but set some short term goals along the way.

Make goals that are focused on training and tackling areas that you are stuck in. Avoid relying solely on the next belt rank as your main goal. Rising in belt ranks is a great acknowledgement of your achievements but the purpose isn’t to have a belt but to earn that rank through training. Focus on your progression and the belts will come. Examples of training-focused goals include:

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu—if you are always getting swept in guard, make a commitment to put yourself in guard every time you roll until you find what works for you.
  • Thai Kickboxing—If you feel like your general progression has come to a halt but you can’t pinpoint why, commit to spending 10 minutes after every class shadow boxing the drills worked in class to practice live use.
  • Krav Maga—if you work with the same person each class, commit to working with a new person at least once every week. New energy can help challenge your habits.
  • General Goals—commit to taking class 3 times per week for 2 months.

Using these kinds of goals throughout your training will help keep you focused on your conditioning and skill progress instead of wondering when they’re going to give you a belt. Talk to your coaches if you need help focusing on areas to improve.

Your goals may only take a few classes, a few weeks, or perhaps a couple months to reach. In general, keep the goals challenging but realistic. Avoid making short term goals that last longer than 3 months, motivation can be hard to maintain if the finish line is too far out.

Life Happens

It can take years to earn a black belt. There may be a lot of life changes during this time which, unfortunately, can translate into the end of the black belt journey. Children, weddings, school, house hunting, new job can all push martial arts training off of your schedule.

If you are feeling positive about your journey you are far more likely to keep your workouts on the schedule. If your life change is happening while you are struggling with your progress it can be a little too easy to walk away.

Use your short term goals to help you adjust to your new situation. Maybe you move from 4 to 2 days per week but spend an extra 15 minutes after class to work on the bag or roll a bit longer after jits class. Also consider talking to fellow students. There are a number of people that have similar commitments, who have found solutions. If you need a brief hiatus, schedule a return date so it doesn’t become “one of those things you’ll eventually get to”.

Your Journey

Many people feel discouraged when they see other people receiving belts and feel that they have worked just as hard, come as often, or demonstrated the same or better skill level. There are a number of reasons why some may advance faster or slower but it’s really a waste of your energy to compare your progress to someone else’s.

At the end, when you receive your black belt, it is only about your journey, no one else’s. Worrying about someone else’s progress simply brings short term misery, which gets you no closer to your goal. Celebrate fellow student’s achievement, see inspiration in skills that higher belts have achieved, then focus on your journey so you can, one day, celebrate your well-earned black belt.

A black belt journey requires commitment, persistence, and patience that you will most appreciate the day you receive your black belt. So remember that challenges and overcoming them are part of the journey and continue to push on.


Dragon Within Mixed Martial Arts offers the most  functional and realistic self-defense and fitness programs in the North Shore area.

We offer Thai Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu(BJJ), Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Krav Maga and Children’s programs.

Visit Our Website! www.DWMMA.com

Don’t Wait!  Call TODAY to sign up for your FREE PRIVATE LESSON 978-745-8511 Dragon Within Mixed Martial Arts, Salem MA, provides the most realistic and practical self-defense programs for Massachusetts and North Shore Area including: Peabody MA, Salem MA, Beverly MA, Lynn MA, Marblehead MA, Danvers MA


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