Before we start discussing the advanced techniques and kata introduced at this grade it’s important that you understand that having reached your Brown belt you have embarked on an all new phase of your martial arts journey. By all estimates you are now approximately 18 months away from Black belt.
Having trained in karate for a few years now, no doubt you would have broken many barriers, comfort zones and self-imposed limits. You can likely get through a tough class now will greater ease, move much faster and are technically sound even when delivering techniques with full kime.
That said, its now time to ask more of yourself.
This is not suggesting you need to train more frequently, and in many ways it’s also not suggesting that you need to lift your intensity during class. No doubt your current grade indicates your intensity level is adequate. What it is simply stating is that you have likely developed (over the years) a number of beliefs about your karate ability. And these beliefs would be best described as ‘self-imposed limitations’.
Obviously you have belief in your ability. However, it is a natural human condition to impose limits on ourselves. It was once written that ‘the story of the human species is a group of people continually selling themselves short’. Human beings have built skyscrapers, adventured to every corner of the globe and even been to the moon and back. But these amazing feats are dreamed, conceived and believed by the few. For too many of us however we live under an invisible ceiling over our true potential.
How fast can you kick? How fast can you really kick? Do you have the capability to kick twice as fast as you do presently? Or are you too old, too inflexible, or too flat out with work to train for it? What if you could increase your kick speed with virtually zero effort?
How powerful is your punch? Could you develop twice the power over the next two months, or is this a ridiculous quest? If you haven’t doubled the power of your punch over the past year, how could you do it over the next two months, right? Is your punch weak because you are small and petite in stature? Is your punch weak because of a pre-existing shoulder injury?
These are examples of self-imposed limitations we place on ourselves. We convince ourselves that we are trying as hard as we can and that there are too many legitimate restrictions on us to get better, faster, stronger etc.
The biggest hurdle in your reaching the next level in ability is not your frequency of training or intensity at training (although these of course contribute). The biggest hurdle is your belief system.
At a recent seminar, students were asked to jump as far as they could from a standing start. Each then measured their jump. They were then given fifteen opportunities to make sure they were happy with their technique and were jumping as far as they possibly could. Each time they beat the mark they moved it forward so they always had their biggest jump to compete with. Most reached their maximum jump around 8-10 jumps in. After this fatigue set in and they frequently fell short.
After fifteen jumps, they were told they had just one chance to beat their best jump or they would do 50 pushups. They were asked to visualise themselves jumping past the target. They were told to relax their mind and tell themselves that they could easily beat the mark. 9/10 beat the mark (by the barest of margins) and were overwhelmed that they had achieved this.
Then the same proposition was put to them. Beat your new best jump or do 50 pushups. Once again the same situation occurred. Most people beat their mark. This was done a number of times.
Once the experiment was over, most had added at least an entire foot to the length of their jump. What had happened? How could a fatigued person add an extra foot in length to their jump?
The main difference was that each time they only had to beat the mark by an inch to achieve success. They weren’t aiming for a foot to begin with, they did it by inches. An inch is believable so they were successful. And they were successful often enough so that it added up to an extra foot in length. “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch”
The difference each time was their level of belief.
The problem all along was their self-imposed limitations. They never believed they could jump an extra foot beyond their best jump.
Once you start removing self-imposed limitations you begin to write a new book about your karate ability. Of course, this can and should be the case for every area of your life.
How long can you stay down in shiko dachi (sumo stance) before you get too sore and stand up? Can you not beat this by 30 seconds? What if you did this over the course of a day and each time tried to beat it by 1second. It’s likely that by the end of the day you would be holding it for that extra 30 seconds.
Take this and apply it to everything you do in the dojo. Do so and you will see your karate begin to take a new shape.
Learn to ask more of yourself. When you are stepping through in zenkutsu dachi and punching, ask more from yourself. Tell yourself that you can and will step through faster. And do this every count.
When you ask more from your body it turns your brain in problem solving mode. The brain will start to work overtime to achieve your request. It will find that if certain muscles relax you can move off the mark with more explosion. It will find that staying low, or activating a particular muscle group that it can move through quicker. In essence, it will FIND A WAY.
There is no reason why you cannot go through a major growth spurt in your karate right now. All you have to do is remind yourself that your potential is endless and the ceiling over your current ability is merely imaginary. Learn to ask, or even demand, more from yourself.