Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Train like its your last day

There is a concept in martial arts called ren ma. Loosely translated it means: To cultivate and achieve perfection through tempered training. When going into more detail the definition exceeds the adage of "practice makes perfect"
The classic saying - "Practice makes perfect" may seem similar in meaning to what ren ma is about however, ren ma has a much deeper connotation, particularly to those who are serious about their training, development and achievement. ren ma reminds us that to achieve perfection in martial sciences or any biomechanical endeavor requires extremely diligent and never ending tempering, polishing, and refinement.
Kata embodies the idea of ren ma, or "always polishing" – with diligent practice, the moves of the kata become further refined and perfected. The attention to detail that is necessary to perfect a kata cultivates self discipline.
Why should we strive to continually polish?
To quote one of the founding fathers of karate: "The ultimate aim of the art of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the characters of its participants."Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate-Do.
Ren ma goes beyond practice and speaks to the attitude we must possess when training. Train like its your last day, means that in each training opportunity, in and out of the dojo, you give it your all, holding nothing back and keeping nothing in reserve. Every technique is real, every moment is life and death.
When you train like this, you cultivate the character and spirit to overcome any moment of adversity. This translates directly into every facet of life outside of the dojo. When you are constantly polishing, tempering your character, no matter what life may throw at you, you will be able to withstand it because you have done the work, and prepared yourself.
Sensei Orlando
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Discipline of Repetition

Why do we practice? More importantly why do we practice so often? In an earlier post I discussed diligent practice(see Today I want to discuss why we have to do so many of the same techniques over and over and why this cultivates discipline. Webster defines discipline as: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. When we execute techniques over and over we are forging a certain type of character in ourselves. We live in a society that gets easily bored and our attention spans have been shortened considerably. In a society where everything has to happen "yesterday", the practice of martial arts forces you to take the slow track to excellence. You cannot earn a black belt overnight or even in a year. On average it takes 4-5 years for a first degree black belt depending on where you study. In order to achieve this you must have discipline. In order to pursue any endeavor with excellence, it requires discipline. I'm sure Tiger Woods still practices his swing even though he is a champion. If you look at any person who is in the elite of their respective fields, you will see one common theme- discipline.
Do we need discipline? Not really. We can all "get by" even when we aren't disciplined. We can make ends meet, train every so often, and cruise through life. The question is do you want to excel? If your answer is yes, then you need discipline. If you want to achieve great things and impact others and the world, you need discipline. It means doing things over and over. It means not getting bored easily, but understanding that each time you do that same technique, practice that speech, have that conversation, you are getting better and moving closer to mastery.
On whatever path we choose to embark upon, mastery should be our goal. Take the first step today and discipline yourself each day to keep taking those steps.
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando