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Burnout is when you get tired of doing the same thing and lose interest in it. It is something anyone who trains regularly must face periodically. Even if you are doing something you enjoy doing, doing the same thing day-after-day gets boring after a while. Burnout can cause you to lose interest in what you are doing and even cause you to quit doing it permanently. Burnout is something you try to avoid, but, when it occurs, you must work through it. If not, you are done.

Symptoms of burnout

Symptoms of overtraining may be physical fatigue, mental fatigue, recurring muscle strains, weight loss, increase in blood pressure, frustration, depression, or a marked lack of progress despite constant, hard training. Often, if martial artists do not recognize these as symptoms of overtraining, they may think they are just getting lazy and then increase their training to reverse the symptoms, which increases the deleterious effects.

Evidence of the results of burnout may be seen by looking at the number of students at each rank in a school. The higher the rank, the fewer the students. Students drop out of class for many reasons; burnout is one of them. After many years of training, burnout sets in, and students move on to other things.

Causes of burnout

  • Training becomes more monotonous. When you first begin training, you have a lot of new information to learn and absorb; you look forward to going to the next class. As you move up in rank, your emphasis shifts from acquiring knowledge to perfecting your skills. After some time, your skills plateau and you no longer see much progress. At this point, training becomes boring.
  • Ranks become more distant or far between. As you move up in rank, your rank tests become farther and farther apart. It’s difficult to maintain your focus during these long periods of stagnation.
  • You rank goal is achieved. When beginning a martial art, most students have the goal of becoming a black belt. Once they reach the goal, they are satisfied and begin to lose interest. Earning a first-degree black belt is considered nothing more than being recognized a having attained a “mastery of the basics.” You are now ready for the tough stuff.
  • More emphasis on teaching and less on training. As students move up in rank, they will inevitably be called upon to help teach lower ranks. At some point, they are teaching more than training. For some this is rewarding, for others it is a chore.

Prevention  of burnout

  • Work on extending a technique.  If the class is working on a specific technique, explore what follow-up techniques may be used, and add combinations to the technique. Do the technique higher, harder, and faster than others in the class.
  • Mentally consider yourself in competition with others in the class. Always try to do more and do better than everyone else in the class.
  • Take some time off. Do not let the demands of training or teaching take up all your time. Use cross-training to add variety to your training.
  • Try some new sport to practice on the side. Don’t be a servant to your martial art. Be versatile, learn new things, and find ways to integrate aspects of each new endeavor into your martial arts training.
When it comes to burnout, remember that you are not alone. Anyone who has trained for many years has faced it at some point, so when it happens to you, don’t be afraid to ask for help in getting through it.

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