Train Like Everyone is Watching
Have you heard the expression, “dance like no one is watching”? The idea behind this phrase is to express yourself without fear of opinion or judgement, to live with a true sense of freedom.
I’ve often thought of karate in a similar sense, whether it is performing kata, trying out new things in kumite, or even competing in a tournament. Many students avoid things they don’t feel they’re good at through fear of judgement. There is also the flip side to this argument, to ‘train like everyone is watching’, with a sense of being watched or evaluated, where the objective is to either impress or improve.
Both these concepts serve a purpose in every student’s training. For example, everybody has their ‘favourite’ spot to stand in class. Many students shy away from the front lines, preferring the back line so they can feel comfortable, hidden away.
Karate is a tough thing to do. It’s an arena of constant assessments and things to improve. The lists are never-ending and the pursuit for perfection infinite. We all work hard for that one little improvement that allows the next grade, making something a little easier to do, one section of a kata to feel smoother, to be that microsecond quicker in kumite etc. It’s a crazy, yet insanely rewarding path we walk.
It is with this in mind I say, “train like everyone is watching.” Let’s face it, no one wants to look silly doing anything in life, and karate can definitely make us all seem very ‘human’ at times. However, embracing that fear can actually allow us to shine.
Training on autopilot
You see, people are so very talented when it comes to operating on autopilot. We can cook, clean, train, read, talk, even drive a car with our mind elsewhere. And as talented as our autopilot is, it also holds us back from progress because it divides our focus.
Most people would agree to have trained on autopilot. But let me ask you, does your mind wander as often during a grading? Unlikely! This is because you know people are watching, that your actions are being assessed, so you force your mind to stay in the game to avoid silly errors. This ongoing focus keeps us mistake free and we pass our grading (touch wood).
Very often, however, a student spends an extra few months on their current grade all because of a few poor habits. And the question begs, what brought about these poor habits? Training on autopilot! We all know the value of focus yet struggle to keep it during class because we’re so akin to using our autopilot. But when we’re being watched, it becomes natural to keep our mind on the job, so why not use this to your advantage?
All eyes on me
If you line up at your next class with the attitude of “I’m constantly being watched”, it will help keep the ‘autopilot’ off and maintain your focus in the moment. Training like this will force you to do your best all the time. And let’s be honest, isn’t that what we truly seek, to be the best WE can be?
An unexpected benefit of this this is that other students will notice and lift their intensity and focus. Beyond this, your Instructors will also start noticing all the great things you do in class.
It’s a fearless way of training that always brings out your best. Our best is what we want. Let’s face it if you had a blank cheque, then walked into the car dealer and they gave you the option, standard model, or top of the range model, which would you take? The top of the range of course! The best you is the fearless you, the one that says “look at me, I want to get better.” To find this person, train like everyone is watching.