Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Over the years our reasons for doing martial arts changes.  I think it is extremely important to make sure you always know why you are doing them, or else you may burn out.

This may sound simple at first -  “because I want to” - but as you begin to spend significant amount of time in your martial art you will find that you have moments when you feel like you are going to class simply through the motions. Having been in Tae Kwon Do since I was 6 years old or so, my reasons have definitely changed for being on the mat. Sometimes I failed to adjust and dropped out for a while.

My awesome Uncle (sans gi) using me as a support
 beam for stretching before a run along the Trinity River.
When I was first starting as a child my reasons were simple. I thought it would be awesome to be like my Uncle, who I saw wearing his gi from time to time. Add in some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the iconic belt system and you've got all the motivation I would ever need. The “why” was the fantasy of martial arts. It was cool and I wanted to be a part of it. I eventually dropped out for baseball. I wanted to be with my friends and they were all in baseball, so go figure. I was about 10 or 11 at that time.

My mother stuck with Tae Kwon Do (we started around the same time) and eventually opened our school in 2003 (10 years after we started together). I found my way back to martial arts when I was about 14. After I aged out of youth baseball I sat around and did nothing but TV and video games all Summer for a couple years. I had put on a lot of weight. My best friend was the starting QB of the school football team, so when I went to swimming parties with him I felt horribly self-conscious. All the girls there were cheerleaders and all the guys were football ripped. I may be exaggerating, but it was enough pressure to draw me back into martial arts for fitness. Getting in shape was now my motivator.

I dropped out again after my red/black belt test when I was about 19 or 20. I had started college and played in a band, having then developed an addiction to cigarettes – as well as a crappy lifestyle in general. I stuck around the school and attended our fitness classes, but was out of Tae Kwon Do again.

During college, there was a lot of on-and-off at this point and I started to develop an interest in boxing. My motivator this time was testosterone. I felt the need to prove to myself that I am “game” and eventually kicked the cigarette habit when I started training with a 3-time WBC world champion (Boxing).

Right out of college my training picked up immensely. I was talked into preparing for my Black Belt test and in that year I had taken a complete hold on my Tae Kwon Do training again. This eventually combined training for the black belt test, boxing, running, and Jiu Jitsu. I was probably spending 3-4 hours a day on martial arts. My motivator this time was the Black Belt test and being an active part of our school. I had always helped out at the school, but never to that level. I felt a need to be a part of things, my family was my motivator.

My fiance’ and I at the latest Half Marathon

After the Black Belt test (2012) I stuck around full-time and helped teach. As much as I love teaching, it started to wear me down when other things started to come up. I bought a house earlier this year and am getting married in less than a month. These important life events obviously cut into training time. With less free time, teaching was the first thing to go. As selfish as it may sound, I have to have some mat time to myself in order to stay motivated. I really miss having the time to train 3-4 hours a day, but I don’t predict that will happen again until the dust settles.

I plan to get back into it full-swing after the wedding. My “why” is my family. My Mother, Brother and Father are becoming greater martial artists every single day and it hurts me that I am not a part of it completely right now.

I guess the point of this article is to remind you that sometimes the “why” gets lost when we step on the mat. If you are unable to answer the question of “why” then it is a good sign that burn-out is setting in. If you happen to find yourself in this situation, I suggest looking for something new to keep you on the mat. Compete in tournaments / competitions, attend seminars, take part in demos, try to test for your next rank… really anything that gives you a clear-cut goal to focus towards.

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.

Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. My motivator for training right now is to be a short, fat version of "Xena, Warrior Princess."  -The Stick Chick