Practice is all about repetition. Cycles of drills run though over and over throughout the accumulating years of experience. Do you ever get caught up or corrected on something that you’ve been working your butt off on, only to feel like you’re now moving backwards? Believe me, we’ve all been there! Our attitude towards a realization or correction can make a world’s difference. If we’re sour, our following reps will only get sloppy and we’ll lose focus and then the practice isn’t in the right place anymore. But if we wear our “inner smile”, listen, and try to think “This is just the next step in my training and it’s what I need in the moment to improve” then we can’t help but be excited to keep trying! In that moment of correction, sometimes we don’t get it right away – at least I certainly don’t! Sometimes it’s OK to back off a bit, build up on the foundations again, loosen up, and then try again. Don’t be afraid to revisit the foundations for they create a solid structure that everything else gets built up upon. The more advanced you get in practice, the more those foundations need to be solid.
I go through waves of feeling like I made good progress and then feeling very overwhelmed with the onslaught of corrections I may have received. It’s hard to process everything at once. I remember every once and awhile I would ask at the end of class, “With so many things to practice, how do you pick one thing to focus on?” My mentors would say “Create a schedule of what you do when and stick to it” or “Just pick one thing and stick to it for awhile”(this would be more related to sparring techniques and research drills). That advice was hard because my head was always swimming. But over the years, I’ve found that when I get a correction that stumps me, I usually bring it back a couple of notches and slowly build up to work through it. If I try to figure out everything I’ve been told at once, I’ll get easily overwhelmed and then I become lost in my emotions. So I’ve learned to not be afraid of my practice. It’s so intricate in the details that sometimes we need to step out and get a little fresh air before diving back in. Most times you come back with a clearer mind.