Consistency is easily the most difficult aspect in martial arts training. It is also the most important thing if you want to see improvement in your Kung Fu. You can train for eight hours a day, but it will mean nothing if you do it for three days in a row then don’t do it for three months. As far as I am concerned you will get better doing two classes a week for a year than training for five hours twice a month for a year.
The body and mind are remarkably adaptable things, they can be moulded in all sorts of ways. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bulging biceps to Chinese foot binding, human plasticity can be used for better or worse. The secret: consistent and incremental conditioning. It has to be regular and it has to be in small steps. Like a tree growing around a boulder given enough time and nurture it will grow to envelope, however if you try to pull it into shape it will snap.
So what does this mean for your kung fu? Kung fu means a skill gained by hard work, so to be truly good at something you can’t just do it when you feel like it or when you’re in the mood, you have to do it regularly. There is a Chinese saying that if you train every day you get better everyday, if you miss a day it is like missing ten. But therein lies the difficulty. Many of us have busy lives with many responsibilities and completely lacking in the chance to train even 3 days a week. So what can you do? Commit to your training, don’t miss it. Even if it is only two hours a week. Naturally if you train more you will get better faster, but that is likely to rise and fall with your motivation. Don’t make your training contingent on your motivation, training should be separate to your motivation, training is something you always do, motivation is something you feel that will change.
Now consistency is paramount to growth in your training but also it is a trait that you can roll over from your kung fu training to the rest of your life; one of the most highly noted attributes of successful people is the consistency in what they do on a daily basis. Again the emphasis not being on volume of work, nor intensity of that work, but on regularity and consistency.
I’ll leave you with a quote from American President Calvin Coolridge:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”