Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On October - 26 - 2013

a4Mentally defeating yourself effects all of us at one point or another. It is a downfall that can cause you to not get the simplest of movements. And it all is because you think, “I can’t do that!

The problem lies in not understanding a movement or sequence and then not taking the time to ask about it. Also asking the wrong person or getting misinformation will cause this problem. For example: If you are learning a kata and the person “teaching” it to you does not slow down fast sections, you may feel that you can not learn it.

I am constantly hearing things like; “that kata has weird stances that I can’t do!” or “I can’t do that jump!

The “I can’t do that!” feeling is taking hold and you haven’t even taken the time to attempt to learn it. You have predetermined that you can’t do it. Therefore, you may never learn that kata or in some cases to quit training all together. I know of people that have been so discouraged because of mentally defeating themselves that they have not tested for new ranks or have quit training all together. It is sad to see this happen but it is a common occurrence. Some people seek instance understanding and do not want to put the effort into learning so they claim that they can’t. Then there are others that just do not understand or learn a different way. They require additional work or an alternative method of being taught.

We as instructors often say “give it a try” or “just try.”  What we are doing is not trying to put the pressure on you the first time through. However, that pressure is going to come. By not putting too much pressure on you in the beginning, hopefully we will be able to bring out the results we are looking for later. We are hoping to help you defeat your own mind by tell you to try then helping you through it. Where some of us are lacking is the helping you through it part. But you also need to ask questions if you are unsure or do not understand.

Never say, “I can’t learn and my instructor won’t help me!” Our job is to teach and help you understand. If you are not getting it, then we are not doing our job to the best of our ability. Ask questions, ask for extra help! If you are too timid to ask the instructor, find a high ranking student and ask them for assistance.

Being mentally defeated does not just happen when you are learning katas for testing. It can also happen in competition, kihon, kumite, etc. If you feel that you are not getting something and do not take the time to have it shown to you. Sparring is the biggest leap for many people. I have seen so many give up when they had to begin free sparring. They fearing getting on the floor with an opponent. Another area where people struggle and claim that they can’t do it is bunkai. Again it could be the fact that you are facing opponents and you are not accustomed to that.

I mentally defeated myself at the Canadian Cup this past spring. I was competing for the first time at the National level. I awoke on Sunday, the day of my events, and decided to review katas at home before I went to the tournament. I had a complete mental block. I couldn’t get through any katas without making huge mistakes. This did not change once I got to the tournament. I was given Heian Sandan in the elimination round and forgot the ending of the kata while performing it in the ring. I was so embarrassed. Especially after just receiving my Yondan on Friday. I mentally defeated myself thinking that I would be given a higher kata and over thinking things.

To try to break this habit, go into every training situation with an open mind. Sometimes that is harder than it sounds. Focus more on yourself and your movements than the people around you. Again something that is going to take some practice to do. The biggest thing is stop saying, “I can’t do it!” and start saying “I am going to get this!

Don’t get discouraged. We have all been there and will be there again. Personally, I have struggled with specific katas and have felt that I would never learn them. I recently overcame the struggle on one of two katas. Now I only have one more to concur to know all 26 Shotokan Kata.

Don’t give up! Push yourself as hard as you can. Ask for help when you feel that you are not getting something. Have an open mind and never say the words, “I can’t do that!


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