This is a pretty common question. Often when we start into something new, we’re eager to get past that first awkward and potentially embarrassing stage and get onto looking like a badass as quickly as possible. I have two answers to this question:
1. About one year. This isn’t when you’ll be a complete badass, but if you put in at least a couple lessons per week and some practice at home, in a year you’ll feel pretty competent with the fundamentals and will be in a place to really play with those fundamentals and start building into some advanced beginner or beginner intermediate technique.
Now to put that into perspective, I’ve been practicing these arts for 20 years, nearly everyday of the week, and I still feel like I’m improving my fundamentals and learning new techniques and approaches at all levels.
To put things into yet another perspective; if you practice a small subset of skills thoroughly (for example those you learn in your first couple beginner classes), you’ll make visible improvements within a couple weeks and at the end of a beginner series you’ll look and feel comfortable with that subset (i.e. past the potential embarrassment part). That’s a nice stage to get to and it comes quicker than you think. It will also allow you to be more open to…
2. Enjoy the Journey. Yes this feels like a tired adage but it’s repeated a lot because it’s good advice. Hitting the badass mark only comes once, and then its psychologically tiring to maintain. The challenge and learning is one of the fun parts. Think of this as a good opportunity to practice sucking at something. Then when you become a badass you’ll have the fortitude to keep looking for the areas you are weak and you’ll find enjoyment well past your 20 year mark.