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Eliminate The Weak Points
Copyright Pete Kautz 2010/18

Practice, specifically "what you practice on a day-to-day basis" is the theme of today's e-mail. This is where a lot of people get stuck in the martial arts. They go to class and work out when told what to do, but then when they get home they don't know what to be working on.

So, how do you determine what that is?

Well, there's all the obvious, like basic movements, forms, self defense sequences, working the bag, rank requirements and so on, but here's a less obvious tip - pick any weakness you have and seek to improve it.

Why do I say this?  Because it is counter intuitive to our nature.

Most of us will readily work to enhance their strong points few will do the "hard work" of improving their weak ones. Just from my observance, fast guys like to work on their speed, strong guys like to work on strength, and so on.

Think about it in your own workouts - do you find a tendency to work more on material you are good at, or material you are bad at?

Sometimes, it is more beneficial to work on something that you are bad at!

This can be a mental battle though, because it doesn't stroke the ego the same way as doing something you're good at. If your cardio in sparring is weak, for example, then every anaerobic interval workout aimed at developing it will be a reminder of that fact.

Likewise if you're as flexible as a tin dog, then those yoga or stretch workouts may require some humility. Or if you've only ever done empty hand martial arts, learning an edged weapons art like Knifecraft, Drawpoint, or Bowie might take some time to adapt to.

That's why when working on these areas of weakness one thing to keep in mind is that "Your performance on any given day does not equal your self worth!"

I have seen martial artists who beat themselves up mentally because they have a bad day in training and it throws them into a spiral of "I'm no good" depression. This is because their essential self-image is linked to their performance in an unhealthy way.

I'm not saying it is great to fail or do bad, but it has to be kept in a context. Especially if you're training a weak area it may well be tough. Duh! That's why you picked to develop it over something else.

But, YOU are not your mistakes and the fact is that when you start to see the improvement (and if you're working consistently then you will) you're going to feel really great about it.

For example, right now I'm learning to play the drum kit and I'm screwing it all up royally! I hit the snare when I should hit the high-hat, get out of rhythm, etc. But that's OK, I just need to keep moving forward because I know each time it gets that little bit better.

As simple as it may sound, one trick to breaking this negative spiral is by simply focusing on what you want instead. Go ahead and experience how you'll feel when you're able to do head kicks, for example, or see yourself in that split you're working on and check out how good you feel. Your mind can only focus on one emotion at a time when they are opposites, so you can't be both depressed and happy at the same time.

This little mental switch-a-roo might seem too simple to work. Like it might work for someone else who's not very sophisticated or anything but not for you. Well, just go ahead and try it anyhow...see how you feel. Like many principles of the mind it works if, and to the degree you actually apply it.  Knowing is not enough, you must do...

So remember, "Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first". Now go get started and relish those early screw ups. One day you'll laugh looking back at them.

All my very best to you,

Pete Kautz

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