Should you study outside of class?

Probably, yes.

Like anything in life, the more you put in to Shorinji Kempo, the more you will get out of it. Especially if you’re only able to attend one class a week, you will make much more progress if you can put in a little extra time.

In the first few weeks you’ll find this especially helpful because there are so many new words and moves that it can be a little confusing. The faster you get to grips with the new things the more fun you’ll be having.

Even if you’re coming to all our classes – three a week – then a quick review now and again is probably wise.

For many people, life is busy, so this may sound like a big ask. However, I’m not talking about spending two hours every day practicing.

How much should you study?

I’m not going to give a straight answer to this one, I’m afraid. A lot depends on you and your circumstances. Do you have other commitments or lots of free time? How interested are you in progressing fast?

In general though, little and often is what I recommend. A lot of what you can do on your own is memory work and for that, five minutes a day is much better than an hour at the weekend.

Five minutes is longer than you think it is. You can get a lot done.

Consider replacing five minutes of scrolling through Facebook or TikTok with five minutes of Kempo study.

I really do mean five minutes, though. Sure, you can spend longer if you want to, but if you spend five minutes every day then you’ll make a surprising amount of progress.

But progress at what?

What should you study?

Another “it depends” answer. Sorry!

Are you a complete beginner who has never done any martial arts before? You’ll be better off if you put in some up-front effort to memorise the vocab. Go over what you learnt at your last lesson – how much can you remember? Write down any questions you have so you remember to ask them.

Are you just coming up to your next grading exam? Learn the names of your techniques. Do you know which stance they are from? What the attack is? What the defender should do? You can also practice kata on your own – but if you find you’re not sure about a move, ask your teacher rather than practicing the wrong thing.

Have you been doing Shorinji Kempo for years? Maybe you’re not expecting to grade for a few months or more, you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Think about finding a partner who is in a similar state and creating an embu together.

📌 Pro tip: if you want to practice during your commute or other public place (and it’s safe to close your eyes!), try visualisation. Really see yourself doing the techniques – try to make yourself do them perfectly in your head. Studies have shown that it helps.

Do you have a copy of the philosophy book? Spend a few minutes reading one of the topics and think about how it is relevant to you.

What if you don’t?

Nobody is going to tell you off. What you do in your free time is your choice. But make it your choice. Whatever you choose is fine, as long as you have deliberately chosen to do it. Don’t just fall into a rut without thinking.

If you do choose to study outside of class, however, you will see yourself learning more, getting better faster, and having more fun.

Your future is in your hands.

Do you study outside of class? What kinds of things do you do? Let us know in the comments.

Published by Nicola Higgins

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something* martial artist, Girlguiding Brownie and Ranger Leader, and actuary. She somehow also finds time to read, fuss her cat, and occasionally spends time with her husband. [* please note that "ten or more" is still something.]

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