Practicing with intensity is something that, admittedly, can be forgotten from time to time. The longer we practice, the easier it may be to fall victim to the vice of autopilot. Instead, we must make a conscious effort to keep focus on the here and now–on this rep and only this rep–(because every rep counts!) and not get caught up in the “what’s next” mentality. Just think about it–if you were in a real self-defense situation, would you really want to be thinking about what you’re going to eat at your next meal or the next item on your to-do list that needs tending to or even scolding yourself for forgetting something you promised yourself you would remember to take care of? What if this person was holding a weapon? Do you think it would be wise to take your eyes off of the adversary even for a split second? Would all of those swirling thoughts matter?
It may sound excessive to exercise this type of mentality if you’re not in a real threatening situation, but what you practice most often is exactly what will become your reflex, so even when you’re in class or practicing on your own, it’s important to make it real. Making a conscious effort to remain fully present while training inside of the dojang will undoubtedly transfer into every aspect of your life outside of dojang. You get a taste of its boundless experiential benefits and how much deeper the moving meditation aspect of the practice can go. It’s like being a beginner again–senses heightened and alert–you become more acutely aware and sensitive to your surrounding environment.
Practicing this way also reveals a great deal about your character, especially the more your awareness expands. Being diligent and direct with your intention, you become more aware of your actions and reactions. You learn how strong your will is as well as how strong the Ego may be–and although this ping-pong type battle between your will and the Ego can be frustrating, remind yourself not to be discouraged. Recognizing and acknowledging this is one of the first steps towards its elimination–afterall, you can’t change what you don’t recognize.
The value and influence of repetition increases exponentially while practicing with intention. When your mind is fully committed, you want to make sure you’re doing what you’re doing to the best of your ability so as to avoid creating unfavorable habits. Why only do it halfway, waste time and energy if you made the conscious decision to do something that has the potential to make you better, stronger? If you’re going to do it, do it, and do it well. Quickly you realize that patience is also a key player–it must be done time and time (with the appropriate level of intensity and intention) in order for the skill to become more refined, more effective, and thereby more efficient. Repetition, with clear intention, focus, and intensity is the only way. Practice with intention and intensity and you will never be bored.