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Terry Watts
Terry Watts's picture
Making time for the Family as a Martial Artist

I posted this as one of my blog posts (http://dojotalk.com) but I want to post it here as well to get your thoughts.  The post was prompted by one simple statement my wife said during our last phone conversation today: "I do wish you were home more".  Let me know how you balance your desire to train and your desire to be there for your family.  Here's the post:

Does your wife (or husband), ever say that they'd like you to be home more often? For many, martial arts is simply a hobby. But, for a select few, it is something much more.  These unique people realize that to truly get the most they can out of the martial arts, a significant amount of time and energy has to be put into it.  Unfortunately, unless you are single, or have found a way to stretch out time, all that time you spend in martial arts could mean time away from the family.  Take my story as an example. This is a schedule that represents my time out of the house, away from my family.  All of this is on top of my full time job. Monday - 5:15 - 6:45 Tuesday - 6:15 - 9:00 Wednesday - 4:45 - 8:30 Thursday - 6:15 - 9:00 Friday - Free day Saturday - 2-4 hours at the studio Sunday - Free day (Extra stuff, ie: visiting other studios/instructors, tournaments, etc takes place a few times a month, usually on my "free" days) By no means am I a full-time martial artist (yet).  However, it is pretty obvious that, on top of my full-time job, I spend a significant amount of time away from home.  Even with my current load, I want to spend even more time training.  I have two projects now that I want start (experimenting with Bruce Lees workouts, and a 100,000 technique challenge) but I'm not sure exactly where to fit them without reaching the breaking point with my family. Even if you have a family that is fully supportive of your training, it is still extremely important that you recognize their needs, which may not always be spoken.  Many have heard the old adage, "Quality over quantity".  It may be that this is the key with both your family and your training.  What are your thoughts?

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

I know just what you mean.

My priorities are:

1) Family

2) Work

3) Training

and even if I was making £000's from teaching it would only ever move up one level to 'work'.

I used to teach / train a lot more, but find that now I'm home by just after 8:00pm my life has improved a great deal.


Tau's picture

Mrs Tau is one of my students!

Gavin J Poffley
Gavin J Poffley's picture

I'm sure most people who have commitments outside of training would like to spend more time on it but keeping a balance is important.

I have a few little tricks such as doing all of my conditioning work (mostly bag and weights) at home so I can be with the wife and train at the same time! I also managed to schedule two of my four weekly training sessions back to back so the number of days I am away is reduced by one but I still train just as often.

Terry Watts
Terry Watts's picture

The idea of doing bagwork at home is certainly a good one.  I plan to begin my 100,000 technique challenge soon and, if I want to complete it in 3 months, that will mean about 20mins a day on the bag, every day.  I'm not sure that my wife will consider that "being with her", but at least I can take my son out with me and give her a break inside. 

As to training in the dojo, I'm the assistant instructor on two of those days, the lead instructor on another, and the most experienced (ie, go to) guy on the last day.  So, what this means is that while I am at the dojo a lot, I don't actually get a chance to "train" at the dojo very much.  That is why I often go on Saturdays, either by myself or with a small group.

I sat down and talked to my wife yesterday to get a better feel of her thoughts on my current training regimine and on me being gone as much as I am.  Basically, she is pregnant, tired and frustrated in general.  We also ascertained that in truth, anyone that could give her a break would make her feel better.

So, I took this to be fairly good news actually.  Essentially, she's saying that she doesn't feel like I'm neglecting the family (whew!), she would simply like a break a bit more often.  So, thats completely understandable and workable from my point of view.  My biggest concern was that she felt that I was not meeting the needs of her and my son.

PASmith's picture

This is something in constant flux for me. Sometimes (many times) I cancel training because it's not convenient.

One thing I've realised though is that training makes such a difference to me (emotionally, physically and mentally) that if I don't do it I'm not as nice to be around. That's not to say I'm nasty if I don't do it (I hope!) but I get such a sense of "Aahh...that feels better" when I've been training, I'm more chilled and easy going after.

It's certainly tricky to make it all fit and an understanding wife is a real blessing. :)

Wallace Smedley
Wallace Smedley's picture


You know, my kids are the most important thing in the world to me. I have three; a 20 year old, a 17 year old and a three year old.

I am a full time martial arts instructor for KICKSTART KIDS. I don’t quite work the typical full time instructor’s hours, however I do put in a lot of hours. Monday through Friday I leave the house at 5:45 AM, and the only day I am home before 7:00 PM is Friday.

To me, the balance is in personal attitude and contentment. See, for me, I spent a lot of years in a job I hated. I was a bricklayer. I never wanted it, and was just born into it (third generation).I had opened several failed schools, and was teaching out of a recreation center when the chance came to work for KICKSTART KIDS. I never even asked my wife what she would think if I took the job, I just took it. Even though it meant a move across the state to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and uprooting my recently (at the time) emigrated wife just months after she got her first job in America. When I didn’t like my job, I was a real grouch. I yelled at people and was not very pleasant to be around. After coming her to work as a full time martial arts instructor, I was (for the first time in my life) content with my job. I do work a lot of hours, but my time with my kids is just wonderful, and packed with closeness and hugs and meaningful time together. I just cherish the time I have with them!

There is my balance.