Yearly Training: Another Kind of Reflection

As the year winds down and the holidays are in full effect, I usually take some time to reflect on the past twelve months. Training is one of the many aspects that I ponder as I go about this exercise. As I dive deep into my training, I separate it into a few different categories; the first and foremost category is measuring my own overall growth among the arts that I study regularly: aikido, judo, and Olympic Fencing. Sometimes it is small and sometimes it is big, and for those times in between, it is just enough to acquire a level of proficiency that I did not possess before, allowing me to move forward. The next three categories pertain specifically to the arts listed above and where I stand in my progression and what specifics I wish to improve at and refine – I make my New Year’s resolution for training. What crosses my mind is why I train, as I do – reflecting on my purpose behind the many hours committed to such an endeavor. It may be obvious from how I structured this paragraph, but it is to become better than I was the day (or year) before.

Finding a purpose does not have to be something deep, profound, or even somewhere close to gaining enlightenment; it just has to be relevant and measurable enough to us. However, the purpose or reason for our training has to justify, in some way, why we are putting in the time and effort to learn your chosen art or skill. For some, it is to get out of the house, to socialize with others, or have fun; for others, it is to become an expert, compete in tournaments, or someday teach others. This purpose is linked to us and our own reason(s) for taking up your chosen art. Without a purpose, there is nothing to what we are doing – just an arbitrary collection of movements and techniques without a point or meaning. It would be like going through the motions with your mind on pause. If there is no purpose, then there is no progress – it is a missed opportunity, both mentally and physically.

Once a purpose is defined, there should be some flexibility within that purpose at times, as in to let go or not focus on that purpose now and again for a few classes and then return to it. It is difficult to train for long periods of time regularly without experiencing some level of burnout. In relaxing from our purpose for only a short time – meaning a small duration of a few classes – we can give our bodies and mind a chance to reset and approach our purpose with a fresh perspective for a renewed start.

For this new year, step onto the mat with a renewed sense of purpose, whether for the first time or for the eighteenth time. Make it a point to strike, grapple, move, and position while on the mat with a reason for your training – make those actions count, making every minute and drip of blood, sweat, and tears count. We must ask ourselves: what is the purpose of our training this year? Make this year the year to find the answer.

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