Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Recently I was talking with another Sensei about a pattern that we both have noticed through our years of teaching, yet for one reason or another we had never truly explored the pattern deeply until that day:
"Why is it that some students achieve great success in the martial arts, while others fade away before reaching their long term goals?"
Why is it that both of these types of students begin with a fervor for the martial arts and the excitement that comes from the newness of their training, yet only some manage to make it through to the level of lasting achievement? Is it because some are more skilled, more talented, or more worthy of success? No, I believe it's because only some people leverage the power of being 'all in'.
Being 'all in' means that a person has made a decision to strive for more than the casual benefits of training. People who are 'all in' for their goals have already (either consciously or subconsciously) accepted that no matter what obstacles come their way, they will be successful. To a person who is 'all in', the idea that they won't achieve their goals doesn't even cross their minds, and so because of this clear vision of success the next logical step is to take themselves to the next level, both emotionally and physically.
This is the reason we all love a good 'underdog' story; a movie or tale about someone who strives for success, even in the face of extreme adversity. Something about that resonates with us because deep down, it reminds us that we are the one in control of our destiny, which is a powerful lesson when learned well. Our actions (or lack of action) directly relates to our outcomes.
In karate, there are so many ways to elevate your knowledge and training. Volunteering to help teach and joining competition team are just a few of the ways to keep karate training fresh and new, while providing students with a broader experience of the martial arts. A person who is 'all in' will seek out these opportunities and grab on with both hands and in the process, they find new challenges which initiates continued growth and development. This keeps the journey from getting boring and allows for a deeper understanding of oneself, which allows a person to more greatly benefit from their martial arts training.
Anyone who has done karate for more than a few years will admit to having felt the weight of boredom at least a dozen times throughout their training. So what kept them coming back? Ask any high level black belt and they will tell you that they always tried to find a new challenge, a new goal to set, a new way of looking at their training and in doing so their long term training felt fresh and renewed.
On the surface, it's that simple. But being 'all in' goes deeper than just finding new challenges. When students make the decision to take on a new challenge, especially when deciding to join the competitive karate team, they suddenly find themselves surrounded by other like-minded individuals. Their new 'tribe' is one of success-seeking students who all share the same mindset. This goes a long way in helping shape the student's view of themselves as being confident and capable of achievement. In turn, the friendships that are made begin to strengthen that self-belief and the entire cycle of confidence begins to become the normal pattern of thinking for a student.
In addition to the psychological benefits mentioned above, the additional training that comes with joining a competitive team only enhances a student in strength, balance, stamina, and performance. This in turn deepens the student's belief that they CAN achieve. Their goals feel closer, more tangible and within reach.
Of course on the other side of the spectrum is where athletes of any sport will find the opposite of success. Boredom gives way to complacency, which gives rise to a lack of practice and a lack of yearning. This can directly effect their desire and can decrease their continued attempts toward achieving success. The goals begin to feel distant, and because of this a person can fall into despair and begin to doubt their initial intentions for their goal. In short, the more a person stays committed to diligent practice, the more control they will feel over their destiny and the more excitement they will feel about their success in the future.
No matter what goal you or your child has set, be sure to make consistent practice, and constant forward motion part of the plan toward success. Develop habits within your family that foster and strengthen the desire for seeking new challenges; and when possible, look for new ways to view long term training so that boredom won't have a chance to rear it's ugly head.