When taking the opportunity to review how their karate training is going, most karateka reflect on: the training done with classmates, the excitement of chasing a dream, the confidence in following a training plan and being promoted to new belts and the feeling of being fit, as the criteria for measuring how ‘successful’ the training is.
Let’s look at the process of becoming a black belt and maintaining a goal of black belt excellence. The process follows a certain path; a dream; a qualified Sensei or mentor being identified; a training plan designed and implemented; attending classes and getting fine-tuned on art regular basis; training on your own outside of regular class; attending seminars to fine tune and add specific knowledge; the testing process leading to the black belt test and beyond. Also, the goal and process of attaining instructor certification is an important landmark.
The kyu level belt tests allow a student to get constant feedback on their progress towards black belt excellence. Identifying specific things to work on for self-improvement allows a person to make small changes and obtain Kaizen, constant and never-ending improvement. Striving to identify at least one thing new that needs to be learned or one way to polish what is already known and understood moves us forward in this search for skill and competency.
A modern warrior identifies what is important in life and then attacks his goals with a passion and a positive attitude. Having Kokoro (heart) that your desire to accomplish your goals is unwavering and that you give it your best each and every opportunity. Nintei or perseverance is critical in continuing to strive and progress
The Kaizen philosophy lies behind the operating procedures that many Japanese companies have put in place. This philosophy has led to many distinguished innovations. Kaizen means literally: change (kai) to become good (zen). In essence the Kaizen theory comprises of three steps: Plan, Do, Review. If we merge this process into our karate training it could look like this: dream, plan, train (Do), compete or teach (Do), celebrate, reflect (Review), plan, train (Do), and deliver.
Go on, take the time to review your training and it will provide you with a greater understanding of the process. This will enable you to train smarter. Smarter equates to faster, safer and to a sense of satisfaction as opposed to one of frustration. It is often the incremental changes that we make on a daily basis that combine to provide a great result. This is the path towards martial arts mastery.