I often see students judge themselves harshly after they have messed up a technique or cannot instantly master a new technique. Their facial expressions often betray their internal thinking process. “God, I’m so stuuuupid!” When this happens, I tell them “stop judging yourself!”

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Let me cut to the chase. The quality of your technique or the lack thereof does not reflect your worth as a human being. Not even close.

I know. Believe it or not, I went through this stage years ago. Whenever I executed a technique that didn’t quite come out right, I felt embarrassed. “Aw fuck, what was that?” This feeling was heightened when I evaluated myself on video on those bulky 1980s VCRs back in the day. “For Gawd’s sake, who is that joke of a martial artist?!

Add in the fact that I was often only deaf/hard of hearing person for much of my post-Clarke School days and I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb.

The funny thing is that no one probably paid much attention to my errors or didn’t think much of it. It was all in my head. Having recently turned 52 and looking back on those days, I shake my head at the bullshit percolating in my head.

In this day and age of selfies and videos, most folks want to be seen in the best light. For some, being seen in less than their best light is a horrible moment. Performing techniques incorrectly in class constitutes a complete disaster for some. “OMG, that was fucking horrible. I’m terrible!

With age (52) comes wisdom. I now shake my head at my youthful self and say “Come on man, that was all bullshit.”

A technique is just a technique, nothing more. Once you start putting value judgments on techniques (“that sucked”, “WTF was that?” etc), your ability to improve will become more difficult.

Instead, look at your techniques neutrally. Simply say to yourself “I need to practice this more” without any judgment.

Take the problematic technique and practice without berating yourself a la Chris Farley. Further,  do not attach any judgment to the technique. If you worry about how you look to others, you’re giving other folks rent-free space in your head. Screw them. You should only be concerned with your own progress.

I wager that you will find practice to be much more enjoyable if you leave out the Chris Farley beratement crap. 🙂

Have any of you gone through this stage? If you care to, share your stories!

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