Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Too much of...too much

We live in an era when everything is quantified and the only thing considered good enough is constant growth, because somehow it has become taken for granted that more is necessarily better. Obviously there is a threshold of effort invested below which one cannot accomplish much or anything, in training as in other domains of life. I have said it myself, there has to be some challenge and frustration in training, if you are looking to improve. However, we have to be smart about it, too.

Naturally, certain things only fall into place at certain times. I remember first reading Burton Richardson's book Jeet Kune Do Unlimited almost 20 years ago, and there was one thing in specific that stood out as unexpected. Namely, in his discussion on the desired attributes for a good fighter, his first one was health. As obvious as it may seem, at certain age we all take that one for granted, and so I only got to fully understand it once it became painfully obvious that nowadays it takes much longer to heal injuries, recover from a tough workout and get rid of soreness. Of course, there are some advantages of being in one's mid-40's over early 20's, but being able to train hard all the time is not one of them.

It seems to me that the chief enemy of the more mature (I cringe at the word "older", although it may be the exact one) practitioners is the memory of themselves training 20 or 30 years ago. It is easy to succumb to the emotions, especially if challenged by the young bucks, and go at it "like in the good ole days", but at the risk of having quite a few bad new days afterwards...or worse. The ego is rarely the best adviser and/or training partner, because it can hamper your progress in so many ways. Without even going into the whole mental and spiritual field, suffice it to say that training in ego-driven circumstances can lead to almost crippling results.

And being crippled tends to have adverse effect on everybody's training capacity and combative effectiveness. Just ask yourself: "Is it worth doing this at all cost today, and then having to skip training for the next several weeks?"

OK, that's all nice and clever, but how do we know where is the borderline between training hard and smart one the one hand, and being reckless and foolish on the other? Well, sorry to disappoint, but there is no ready made answer to that. You will need to learn how to listen and understand what is your body telling you, and the sooner you develop that ability, the better. In order to see if we are just feeling like slacking or being actually fatigued, I usually recommend to do the warm up portion of the session in earnest, and then take an honest look at how it feels afterwards - if you are all of a sudden all cheered up and stoked about the activity, you are ready to go; however, if you still feel slow and heavy, it might be better to take it easy for the rest of the day, or skip the workout altogether.

By now it is the common knowledge in martial arts that it is about the journey not the destination, or that showing up is the secret to success. As corny and cliched as it sounds, it is largely true, but in order to show up you need to be able to. There are times when one needs to go all int, balls to the wall, but such events are few and far between, and almost never in training. That sort of attitude is better left for the actual performance, whether it be in the ring or the battlefield. In training, it is better to err on the side of cautiousness. 

No comments: