What Does That Mean?
What do I mean by “practice like you mean it”? Well, it’s pretty simple. The amount of work that you put into your practice will determine how much your technique will improve. Sure, showing up for class is the first step, but working hard is imperative if you want to improve your skills.
Basics Are Very Important
I’ve done my basics roughly a billion times. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but I’ve done basics a lot! I’ve also taught basics a lot. Chances are that if you are reading this, I’ve taught basics more than you have done them (Master Rankin and Master Bishop are likely exceptions to this). Why is that important? Well, it’s important because I have some experience with basics. I have seen how my effort has improved my technique, and I’ve seen how other people’s effort has affected their technique. I have watched many students come up through the ranks, and time and time again I have witnessed the hard working students achieve their goals while others fall behind. Practice your basics the way you want to be able to do your techniques!
Muscle Memory Is Real
Wikipedia has a definition for muscle memory that includes the following text: “When an active person repeatedly trains movement, often of the same activity, in an effort to stimulate the mind’s adaptation process, the outcome is to induce physiological changes which attain increased levels of accuracy through repetition”. Basically this means that when you do something repetitively, your muscles “remember” how you did it, and they make it easier to do it the same way the next time. How would you like your body to help you do your techniques? Sloppy and lazy, or very focused, precise and strong? You get to pick, and you pick every time you practice any technique.
Find Something You Love
What is your favorite part of martial arts? Is there a particular technique that you really like? Is there a form that you really enjoy doing? Think about some aspect of martial arts that you really love, that you can practice. Repetition is the key to great technique and repetition is easier if you are repeating something that you really enjoy. You’ll find yourself practicing with more enthusiasm when doing the parts that you like best.
In summary, the point here is that you will become the martial artist that you strive to become. You are in control of your martial arts destiny. That’s a great thing if you work hard and focus when you practice. It’s a bad thing if you just show up and go through the motions.
by Master Doug O’Hara