Advanced karate training concepts? Is there really such a thing? As one gains proficiency in the martial arts it becomes apparent that a high level of skill is nothing more than a mastery of the fundamentals. I would like to share with you 5 things that can be utilized by all skill levels but often times aren’t understood until a practitioner has advanced in training.
When training, in the physical sense, we mix up our routine, practice new techniques and keep things fresh and interesting. The same should be true of our mental approach to karate training. Plan your approach to training and modify this approach as your needs and skills change. Below are 5 concepts that I hope will put you on your way to advancing you further as a martial artist.
- Understand the Importance of Mindset: Make up your mind right now that you are going to reach your goals as a martial artist and achieve a high level of proficiency. The biggest asset you can bring to any situation is the mindset that you will succeed. The mentality with which you approach situations is the key factor in determining the outcome. Don’t tell yourself what you can’t achieve but rather what you’re going to achieve.
- Applications of Technique Provide Answers: When practicing the application of technique understand that most often there is no right or wrong answer. Rather, the dynamics of the situation will dictate how the technique should be executed. Therefore when training, practice the technique in the context of its application under many different circumstances. Let’s take the example of a side kick. When executing a side kick for the sole purpose of delivering the maximum amount of power to the target you will start in a low, aggressive stance. You will step behind with your back foot and project your mass into the target. This may not be the quickest method of throwing a side kick, but it’s powerful. The dynamics of the situation, such as a board break, require maximum power at the cost of speed of execution. Now let’s look at the execution of a side kick in the context of a real-world self-defense situation. If a threat is squared-up facing you and you’re standing perpendicular to the threat, a side kick may be a good option. Keep in mind that when time is life you’re not going to throw your most powerful kick. You’re going to sacrifice power to gain speed. The quickest way to the target in this example is to hop or shuffle your back foot forward and then execute a rapid side kick without crossing your feet. This isn’t as powerful as stepping behind. However, the most powerful technique is useless when you’re getting punched in the face because you took that extra second to generate slightly more power.
- Self-Research: The ability to self-research is crucial for advancing your skill set. Know your strengths and weaknesses, both mentally and physically. Due to physical limitations around the mechanics of how your body moves, it may not be possible to execute techniques in a “picture perfect” manner. Adapt the techniques to your body and research the best solution. Don’t fall into the trap of mimicking someone else’s success. Often times practitioners will copy a sparring stance or other trait of a skilled practitioner. Make sure that what you’re doing is the best solution for your unique set of circumstances.
- Know What It Takes to be Good: If you want something bad enough you’ll find a way to make it happen. Get hungry! Create and go after opportunities! Coming to class a few hours a week is not what it takes to be good. Training in a studio should be a small portion of your training. Outside of formal training, practice on your own, mentally and physically. If you make a mistake in class, research and resolve it before the next class. Take responsibility for your training and skill set. I can assure you that in a typical training session more information is presented that can be absorbed at that point in time. Take the information and better yourself outside of class.
- Mentor Others: To advance your training, you must mentor and teach others. Every teaching opportunity is a chance to gain a new perspective. When technique becomes ingrained in muscle memory the details become instinctive. When teaching others, you will be forced to analyze all the details and break down technique. Those you teach will ask questions from different viewpoints causing you to learn new applications and insight.
Advanced concepts? Not really. From time-to-time step back from your training and analyze your approach. Make sure your training is productive and efficient. Hopefully these 5 concepts will help you advance your skills.