I’ve been training for a very long time. After more than 25 years now, I’ve learned a lot about karate, life, and myself. As far as karate goes, there is one thing that I’ve discovered that matters more than anything else if you want to improve your karate.
Are you ready for it?
Here it is… show up.
Before you discount the rest of this post and move on, hear me out. Understanding the “why” behind showing up consistently may shed some light on your own training habits and help you stay motivated.
The more you train, the more you improve. Don’t just take it from me, Sosai said essentially the same thing:
“If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote the maximum of his life to, I would answer: training. Train more than you sleep.” ~ Mas Oyama
Showing up consistently at a frequency of at least 2 times a week has a few major benefits.
There is a lot of debate over the terminology and concept. Clearly your muscles don’t actually remember things or we’d have a lot fewer jokes about meat heads at the gym. What does happen is that your brain does record frequently used movements in a way that allows easier recall. The longer it has been, the more that ‘memory’ evaporates. The more time you need to spend each class on reminding your muscles how to perform a movement or sequence, the less time you are able to spend really feeling that movement in your body and the longer it will take to refine that movement. Even things like kata are much easier to maintain the more frequently you practice them.
It’s probably pretty obvious once you realize it, but the more you show up, the more you see and do in the dojo. Concepts in Kyokushin often cross over between disparate aspects of the system, so seeing something in one place and then seeing a compatible idea somewhere else the next day will help you see connections that won’t otherwise be obvious. The more things fresh in your mind from training this week, the more opportunities you have to make your next big training breakthrough.
There are also a lot of finer points that are only made on occasion. The more often you are at the dojo, the more likely you are to hear these things. You can’t expect to get a complete picture of the system or an understanding of it while looking through a straw. A straw is what you have when you train infrequently.
Willpower and Mental Toughness
The biggest preventer of consistent training is the mental roadblock caused by stress, discomfort and fatigue. Missing a class because you ‘don’t feel like going’ is often the first step down a tricky path. Getting used to showing up even when you’re stressed out about work, school, or life will make you stronger mentally. The same goes for when you’re tired and sore.
Honestly, I was never very good at karate as a kid. I wasn’t very strong, I lacked lot of focus, and was quite clumsy. The only reason I’m not like that today is because I showed up. A lot. Missing only a couple classes a year will make you better, no matter where you are starting from. Consider the above benefits and ask yourself what you hope to get out of your training. Are you showing up?