Admittedly, I haven't been very consistent in my personal training schedules. Lately, I try to train more than once a week in each area of my preferred focus (mobility, strength and conditioning, martial arts), and I know this is not enough. It's also not an acceptable excuse, but I'm currently focused on my professional career. Albeit a bit on the unbalanced side of the spectrum, I've been working hard to help my stakeholders manage and excel at change.
And when I do get to train (or even appreciate watching the various feats of athleticism from Olympic coverage), it's interesting how there has been one common theme for me within these last few weeks: Finding balance within yourself.
"Grit" is NOT the same as "Abuse"
As a former (and less than amateur) sport karate competitor, there was a time when I started to realize that "grit" and "abuse" were often confused, or worse, interchangeably used as coaching methodologies.
And in my early years as an instructor, I was just as guilty.
I bought into the hype of "pain is weakness leaving the body", and while I believe that I never forced my students to do something they didn't want to do, I helped perpetuate an expectation of "Do what I (as the instructor/coach) tell you to do".
I didn't realize this until I got hurt myself - also in competition. You can read more of my story from my previous blog post. It occurred 6 months after I started noticing how I wasn't enjoying the process towards competing anymore. On that competition day, I decided to brush off my emotions and push my body despite having an irregular work and sleeping schedule within that same week.
It didn't matter that I still continued training at least 3x a week leading up to that competition. It was truly an off week that led to that injury.
If you don't compete, then why train?
I'm just as guilty with the social media culture of sharing what I do to garner likes and "look at what I'm doing" responses. After my surgery, I started sharing my personal practice sessions because I felt that I did not have the support or knowledge to try and get myself back to wellness and training. My intentions were to provide light to the mental and physical struggles from a major injury, and how pervasive it feels that your "injured self" does not provide worth or value to anyone and even yourself.
It would surprise you how many times I've been told at the dojang to not bring elements of physical therapy for my personal warm-ups (whether or not I was leading a class).
These many off-putting comments led me to truly think about why I was still training. I started to realize that I wasn't training for myself anymore. I was training to uphold expectations external to my own. I was training to compete and win hardware. I was training to fulfill a need to keep a team together.
It took many years after that to realize what I lost, and why I loved martial arts since I was a kid: Self-cultivation, self-empowerment, and self-control.
Self-control includes the ability to be unaffected by external variables.
It's your craft, your own journey, and how you feel
My teacher, Dan Bernardo, Sabom Nim, was recently featured in the "Post-Training" livestream. If you skip to the 26:10 mark, they started talking about how they feel about Olympic Karate.
Within the same week, I also attended two workshops:
My combined takeaway from the livestream and the workshops is how each of these high-level practitioners talk about how their practice is an individualized one, and that it is more focused on how it feels to execute techniques better and more efficiently in solo practice.
It's a feeling of how to control yourself first and keep your own balance with the least amount of effort against external variables in your environments.
As instructors, we need to do a better job in leading this life-long journey of self-discovery for our junior students. It's not just a universal martial application. It's a universal application for life.
Read up on my latest thoughts, and learn more about upcoming or past events.