Monday, March 3, 2014

Does comfort hold you back?

What are you doing now that will make you a better player a year from now?

The other week at the dojo, I spent an entire class pushing to make my front stance longer and working on initiating stepping by squeezing from the thighs, as is proper technique for us.

It sucked.

I got tired a lot faster than normal and near the end of the workout I seriously considered stepping out to take a break a couple of times.  I was also the slowest person in the class, even slower than the beginners.  That was a surprising blow to the ego, as it turns out.  I had to remind myself that I was slow for a reason, and it was both temporary and for a reason.

Why did I put myself through all that?  Because comfort in technique can lead to complacency, and complacency shows when people work on something until they forget about it.

Once we get comfortable doing things a certain way, we'll default to it.  That's physiology, that's human nature.  So then where do you go from there?  How do you get better?

Imagine taking up weightlifting.  You start light and learn how to lift properly first.  Once you get the basics of technique, you move up in weight.  You get to a moderate weight, and stay there until it becomes pretty easy.  And then...then what?  Do you increase the weight or just stay where it's comfortable?  Upping the weight means struggle, means more sweating, means you won't look as calm and composed, but it also means working towards improvement over time.  Do you lift heavy one day then go back to easy from then on?  Or do you grit your teeth and go back to the heavier weights the next time and the next?

My front stance is never going to get any stronger if I don't purposely make it longer every time I step in it.  My technique is never going to be any stronger if I don't squeeze from the center every time I initiate a step.  It's not going to be easy.  I have to want it and I have to make it happen over and over.  I won't always get to focus on doing those things, but the only person that's going to make it happen when I can is me.

A year from now, if I keep pushing just that little bit more each class from now, I'll see the results.  I'll have a lower stance, I'll have better core mechanics.  (Btw, the stance being longer is cosmetic - the muscle development and delivery of weight is what matters.)

It's easy to pay attention to something you get comments on, but what about when it's something physically challenging and takes months to make a little bit of progress?  What about when something you were good at is now something you struggle with while you try harder?  Willpower and ego will definitely get a workout...

After a point, you have to determine what you want to be better at and be willing to work at it longer than a class or two - remembering why it's important even when it might not be as fun as it was before.  Comfort is good when it prevents injury.  Comfort that keeps you from pushing yourself to the next level is not. 

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