Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to get better

1.) Pick something you want to work on.
2.) Work on it for an entire month.
3.) Pick something else you want to work on, and go back to step #2 with it.

That’s it!  And no, I’m not being flippant this time, I really mean it.

A few years back in Shotokan, I was lifting my heel off the floor while stepping back in a front stance.  The stance is long, and it feels easier to lift the heel up then push the weight back.  However, it “cheats” the move by not using the right muscles when it’s done that way.  It was a bad habit of mine and hard to break.

So for a good month, that’s what I focused on.  While I couldn’t forget everything else, I made sure that I kept my damned heel down and worked the correct muscles in the legs and thighs.  It slowed me down to work at it, but I didn't go slow on purpose.  If I hadn’t made a focused effort, odds are it would have taken a long time to get rid of!

While it might take longer than a month to work off a bad habit or improve a skill, picking one thing that needs work and focusing on it can really help.  It may not be as easy as “I worked on it, I fixed it, it’ll never come up again”, but you might be surprised how much you can get done in a year with this sort of system.  It may also be hard in your classes to say “I know xyz isn’t looking as good, but it’s because I’m working on abc this month”, so be aware that other things might suffer as you shift your attention.

And yes, this is not “the” way to get better, but it’s a good way.  Having good instruction, having the right attitude, and having the willingness to want to get better are all crucial elements.

Personally, I would love to hear if anyone does this for a couple of months and works on a few things.  Let me know if it helped!

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