· The feeling of not making progress or stagnation
· A lack of patience or frustration with promotions
· Arriving at a place of “knowing everything” with no need to learn more
· Failure to maintain a training schedule
· Failure to plan financially for training
· Allowing relationships with training partners or instructors to fall apart
Most of these problems can be avoided by following the principle of ‘Kaizen.’ Kaizen is a word that comes from Japanese culture meaning “constant improvement.” Essentially, it means that every time we enter the dojo or gym, we should do our best to be better than the last time we were there. This is no easy task, because it means improving on each aspect of training including the technical aspects of our art, our focus and concentration, our strength and conditioning, and even our energy and enthusiasm!
Just doing these things well all at the same time can require some effort. Improving on them in a constant and gradual way can present quite a challenge. To do this we need to immerse ourselves into our training. We need to try to focus mentally, minimize distractions, and make improvements happen.
It’s normal to have ups and downs from day to day, or week to week, but over time this approach will lead to improvement and progress. Sometimes we will feel like we’re making huge improvements, sometimes smaller ones...and sometimes we’ll feel like we’re actually going backwards. But, over time, we WILL make progress. In reality, we are always improving, even when we think we’re not. “Baby steps” forward should be the goal. Minimizing distractions and focusing on training will keep us in a healthy place. We need to make training and improving a priority.
The most import aspect of the Kaizen approach is that it will help us stay positive about our training. Probably the most common path to failure in the martial arts (or possibly any activity) is mental frustration and negativity. If we feel like we’re not progressing at all, we will likely get discouraged and give up. Instead, we need to stay positive, and work towards constant and gradual improvement.