I often recite a quote, which reads "There are two types of students, at testing. Those who practiced, and those who wish they practiced." This statement is so important to me that it is the background image, on my computer. I see it every day when I boot-up, every day before shutting it off, and often multiple times though out the day, while I am working. It is also a mantra that I often recite, when I feel lazy or unmotivated.
So let's begin by looking at the excuses. They range everywhere from, I don't have time, to I don't have a place to practice. Some say they were doing homework, (which is semi-legitimate), and others were busy doing chores. Of course other activities and sports become an issue, as well as spending time with family and friends. The worst is they were busy playing video games or watching TV. So how much do we really need to practice? That is a difficult answer, but one I have an interesting answer to. My instructor often told us that his instructor told them that 80% of practice is done OUTSIDE of class. Eighty Percent! For those who aren't good at math, that's four hours, for every hour, in class. Upon first impulse, I'm sure that we all can say that's impossible, or we can't do that. So let's look at this number.
Let's begin with me. Those who know me, know that I'm far from lazy. In fact most who know me consider me to be a machine. They have no idea how I keep up and do it all. I have a day job, in which I work as a Quality Manager, in a steel company. After work, I drive straight to the dojang, where I teach and train for the next 3-5 hours. Not only do I own the school, but my wife and I are also landlords, owning an apartment building and several houses. My weekends consist of going to the school at 4:00 am, to work and clean. This is then followed by work at one or more of our properties. I often don't get home until late in the evening, with 12-16 hour days being typical. For example, while most families were enjoying this past 3 day Labor Day weekend, I spent my mornings painting and dry-walling our future office, then spent the late mornings and afternoon painting and landscaping a rental house.
So why do I mention all of this? It's because I am the first person you would hear say, I don't have time. So, how do I train when I am ALWAYS busy. Plus, how do I find the energy to train, after everything I do? Sometimes I struggle, (we all do), but I have found that even with my busy schedule, I find the time do what I must. But how? Although I don't remember the exact quote, I remember reading a philosophy by Bruce Lee. He explained that in Chinese culture, no matter what you are doing, you should ALWAYS be practicing. A creative martial artists can ALWAYS find a way to practice in EVERY daily activity. For anyone who doubts this, think about the Karate Kid movies. We have all heard phrases like "Wax-On, Wax-Off". Mr. Miagi would give Danial menial tasks, but ultimately they followed the exact same movements as karate techniques. I often ask my students to name a time that I practice stances? My black belts often giggle, because they know I practice while brushing my teeth. Two minutes, 2-3 times per day, every day, every week, every year. I also find time to practice kicks, forms, sparring drills, physical exercise, etc. It is funny how often my wife will walk into the kitchen, and nearly get kicked, while I am fixing breakfast, or how often passing my daughter in the hallway, turns into a sparring match, or self defense scenario. The opportunities are there, the student merely has to take advantage of them.
So lets look back at our kids. Do I expect them to put in an extra 8-12 hours of training, per week? Of course not. Do I expect them to find 5-10 minutes per day to review the material taught in class, and practice their forms? The answer is a big fat YES. If a student practiced a couple of minutes, in the morning before school, a couple of minutes before bed, and maybe another couple sometime in between, they will be more than prepared for their colored belt testing. For a black belt, I have higher expectations, but by then, they realize what I expect. Consistent daily training will offer far better results than a last minute cram session.
So next time I ask, "What are the two types of students at testing?" Hopefully, the students will smile and know that they are in the "Those who practiced, category".
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below, and until next time, I'll see everyone, "In the Dojang."