Making Progress in Karate

November 1, 2013

Progress in the Martial Arts is naturally inconsistent. One will always experience many inconsistencies as far as speed of progress, stumbling blocks, and general inability to attend class regularly. Accepting this will make more peace inside, but the majority of students cannot be comfortable with this, resulting in frustration- sometimes pronounced enough to make the student quit.

Some people have commented about how I appear to carry myself differently in practice than our black belts – looking easier to follow and understand. Well, it isn’t an accident. It has nothing to do with me being better at karate or a particular kata. I am easier to follow and easier to understand because I am at peace with my abilities and not frustrated with my own ability to function. You do not have to be me to feel this way. You can do it now. It is all about patience with yourself. Progress will always be made if you continue to practice. Progress only stops if you discontinue practice or die.

That’s it! There is no such thing as the inability to make progress due to age, physical limitations, or any other excuses one can make. None! All you have to do to make progress is try your best, do not ever give up and know completely that you really are doing well. Yes, you are doing well. Stop saying that you are not!! Stop saying that you are different; therefore you are not making the same progress as others! There is a huge difference between being hungry to learn, unsatisfied with being the same and wanting to move forward and the all-to-common lack of patience with yourself resulting in unhealthy dissatisfaction with yourself, with frustration.

I’ve been doing this for over 40 years and I still feel myself making progress, so why must those with a fraction of the time spent learning be impatient with their level of proficiency?? That is what I mean by being “at peace”. You do not have to possess inner peace in all ways to have this type of peace. It is just a matter of patience with yourself and acceptance of yourself to know that you are doing just fine, and that you will get better, but remember that permanent and solid progress only comes with “putting in the time” and there are no shortcuts to this end. Also, you do not need to be at a specific rank level to have this peace with your proficiency. A white belt can have it! I look “easy on the eyes” to follow because I am content with my karate, I genuinely enjoy my karate, and I am happy practicing my karate. Anyone who will let themselves feel all three of these things will be at peace with their practice too. Strive for more, reach for more, need more, but be at peace with what you already know. Don’t tell yourself that you should know more because you can’t change that.

If there is anything you think you should know stay at peace and go ahead and learn it. The frustration only slows and sometimes prevents learning and progress. Nothing good comes of it. Nothing. Think about my frustration for a moment. Don’t think for a minute that I have none. I get to know people here, and so often see them vanish and quit. I then hear of all the excuses about why they left and how they “didn’t quit” and are “taking a break”. Think about my frustration seeing our members not want to let go of their inner turmoil regarding their progress, seeing them stall their own proficiency and quit. Think of my frustration struggling to pay the Dojo bills because of all the dropouts, when so many would not leave if they could and would let go of all their “inner voices” and “inner conflicts” about karate, and just feel it, absorb it, and let it take you to levels of proficiency you never imagined possible.