Just a bit of my ramblings and complaints. Let’s toss this out there and see what happens.

“How long have you trained?”

This question seems to be one of those conversation starters among martial artists.

But truthfully, I hate it.

It doesn’t really give a lot of information.

Here are some of the common answers I get:

“Oh yeah, I’ve been training in martial arts for 20+ years!”

“Oh I have an Nth degree black belt in 3 different types of martial arts”

“I’ve been doing this my whole life!”

Sounds impressive. But… Is it? What information did we really learn? Everybody’s mileage is different! What I’m curious about is, what is the total time you spent training over those 20 years?

Is it 20 hours?

200 hours?

2000 hours?

Often times the answer I get is less than 500 hours.

Make that first step onto the Circle

If you break it out truthfully, it’s probably something like this:

45 minutes a class, 2 classes a week. This is 1.5 hours a week.

About 40 weeks a year because we have a family vacation, Xmas, Thanksgiving, sick…etc. 40 weeks x 1.5 hours is 60 hours.

Trained from 8 to 14 for a total of 360 hours (60 hours a week x 6 years = 360 hours).

Took a break in high school to hang out with the cool kids, then needed the last two years to prepare for college.

Took a break in college to “explore life.”

Couldn’t really train the few years of getting a job because you wanted to impress your boss.

Finally from 26 to 28, you got back into a dojo and trained an hour a week, 40 weeks a year, for 3 years.

1 x 40 x 3 = 120, add this to the 360 hours from before, we’ve done 480 hours over 20 years.

Sound about right?

You know what 480 hours is? 480 hours is 20 days. So of the 20 years you’ve trained, you’ve trained 1 day per year.

All of a sudden it doesn’t sound so impressive anymore.

“But that’s not fair, nobody trains 24 hours a day!”

Ok, let’s use 8 hours a day like a full time job. 480 hours becomes 60 days. That is 2 months. Did you know a job internship is generally 3 months? Over the 20 years, you’ve accumulated less skill and experience than an intern at a job. And we wonder why traditional martial artists can’t compete with the professionals?

So, here’s the better question: How long have you trained, in HOURS?

“Oh, but it’s been 20 years, I lost track!”

Ok. I’ll help you out.

Answer these 4 questions honestly, and I can tell you what kind of martial artist you are.

How many HOURS did you train YESTERDAY?

How many HOURS did you train LAST WEEK?

How many HOURS did you train LAST MONTH?

How many HOURS did you train LAST YEAR?

If you don’t know the answer to the first 3 questions, the answer is probably less than 3.

Show that to anyone, they will have a pretty clear idea what kind of martial arts you are no matter the style, no matter the teacher, no matter where you live.

For giggles, here are my answers below. For better or for worse, I believe it paints you a picture of me as a martial artists without knowing anything else about me. If you want to judge a book by its cover, this is my cover.

How many HOURS did you train YESTERDAY? 2 hours training, 3 hours teaching

How many HOURS did you train LAST WEEK? 10 hours training, 8 hours teaching

How many HOURS did you train LAST MONTH? 16 hours training, 21 hours teaching

How many HOURS did you train LAST YEAR? 282 hours training, 11 hours teaching (teaching really picked up this year)

By my count of using 8 hours per day, I trained 35 days last year. Basically it makes me as serious as the high school kid working his summer part-time job.

Have the courage to comment your answers to the 4 questions down below?