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Consistency over Intensity in Training or How I learned to Love the Ju of Goju

November 27, 2018


I grew up in specific period of Karate tradition, before the explosion of MMA and
even before the internet existed. Its now hard to imagine a time where there was hardly
any access to information for a young enthusiast and answers to questions were
delivered in a stern voice from a Sensei in one or two words. Giving everything you had
with a “no pain no gain” attitude was expected at every class and I was more than happy
to smash my fists, feet, arms, elbows and knees into a fine pulp trusting in this training
discipline. I gained many mental and physical rewards from this doctrine however I wish
that I could have seen the “big picture” of training earlier on in life.


Unfortunately, it is only
through the recent preparation I’ve put in for my upcoming Yondan grading that I now
see the other side of my training potential. It is because of this revelation that I now
believe that Consistency is more important than Intensity in Martial Arts development.
Successfully dealing with a fierce opponent or intense situation is a mental game. I
always use the analogy of a switch being turned on or off in my head. When the switch is
on anything is possible, and any challenge presented in front of me can be overcome. I
feel that the principle way to learning this fact about yourself can be achieved only by
placing oneself in severe mental and physical environments’. How else could you know if
you can cope? Faithfully standing up to the pressure presented gives you self knowledge
that identifies “the switch” and what is possible once its on. After this self realization
occurs however I do not believe that it needs to be revisited as often as one might think.
When you know, you know, and maybe then it is time to move past the sole idea of hard
work and get into the idea of smart work with both convictions operating in tandem. More
times than not training as if there is no tomorrow leads exactly to that – No training
tomorrow, and instead of getting your daily session in, you are forced to swap in a
focused ice pack tutorial.

Whether at home, in the Dojo, or at the Gym, working out is supposed to be fun. It’s
a joy that should always make you feel better mentally and spiritually and at the same
time endeavors to strengthen your body making you more capable to do your thing
physically. You should love to work out but if you are too sore or injured from yesterdays
practice then it is impossible to focus and be present for todays training priorities. Injury
takes a huge mental toll on an individual that lasts much longer than one might realize.
Slowly but surely the negative repercussions will start to outweigh the positive benefits of
daily ritual if one is in pain. Unfortunately very few individuals have a strong enough
character to work through serious injury or physical stress and continue through their
lives enjoying bodily betterment and wellbeing. Just look at how many of our Karate
family as well as many other athletic practitioners who come to a total stop and
completely abandon their once energetic background due to injury and physical stress.
Injury can and will happen, but if someone was once serious about this lifestyle its sad to
think that it is completely lost and may never come back because of continuous extreme
training. At times I have felt that if its not a relentless training session then its not the
same rush as before. But, nothing stays the same. As I try to keep the workouts fun as I
get older, what is exciting to me about my training today is that even though I still repeat

so many movements and drills exactly the same way as I always did, I now think about
them differently. I love the mental variation. That’s one change to be embraced and it is
one of the reasons I will be able to get up tomorrow and do it all again.


Training in the spirit of competition, beating your personal best, and preparing for
physical exams or a grading are important for any athlete and one should strive to do
their utmost to excel during these seasons in life. Outside of competition you must
remember that it is the “slow but steady” approach that will allow you to accomplish your
daily goals unscathed and without impairment. This is only achieved by not pushing
oneself to the maximum in everyday training. For example, if I know that the maximum
number of pushups that I am capable of doing on my best day is 100, then my usual daily
pushup ritual should be more like 60. This way I am rarely in a state of soreness when I
hit my session the next day and am able to continue on and amass a greater volume of
training time. More sessions put in and more hours logged equals a greater level of
experience and gives one better preparation for when intense physical and mental
challenges present themselves. I should always be preparing for tomorrows session in
my training today. The same idea is transferable to sparring or kumite drills – when you
go too hard in these situations the risk of physical or mental injury are great and that puts
the idea of sparring tomorrow (or even all month) in jeopardy. There should be a steady
playful attitude and approach to sparring in the Dojo, so that little or no trauma occurs.
The “switch” that I referred to earlier is always there, but you shouldn’t be flicking it on
unless it is a heightened circumstance. Going all out in these situations a couple days a
week by completely exhausting yourself will only lead to many days lost in the Dojo or
Gym, and at the end of the year the athlete who took it a little easier but trained
consistently will have logged countless more hours compared to the other. The
advantage this gives when the time comes around is obvious.

The exploration of martial arts has been a lifelong journey for me, and I am
continually fascinated by aspects drawn from differing styles and cultures when bringing
the knowledge back to my Karate base. The opportunity to test the “micro economics” of
this thrill comes around every so often, but the “macro economics” of it happens
everyday. There is a specific amount of energy, emotion, and physical actuality in your
reservoir and overtaxing the system comes at a cost. Most definitely there is a “right”
amount of exercise for each individual and it is important to remember that you don’t
want to enter a phase where your body gets mangled or your mind may mangle too. You
must have the “right” amount of difficulty and challenge in your training routine, but
clearly not so much that you are stressed or anxious about your daily drills. There is no
fast track to knowledge or a healthy lifestyle and its consistency that will keep you in the
game and allow you to push yourself further. The ability to cultivate and maintain
fascination in ones Martial Art comes from training sessions being fun, and without this
main aspect its impossible for one to advance to higher levels towards Mastery. Rather
than taking the gamble that accompanies an intense training regiment as the majority of
your schedule, take the time to plan a consistent one and receive the mental and
physical rewards of a better positive mood, higher energy levels, and you can give
yourself a greater chance to keep doing what you love for as long as possible.


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