Breaking Through Your Limitations

Here is one of the many pieces of training enhancing literature that we can had out to our students.

Breaking Through Your Limitations

A wise phrase reads, “No one who has led a life of ease has a name worth remembering.” The lives of some of the most remarkable martial artists are woven with stories of great personal struggle. One of the qualities they all shared was relentless enthusiasm and optimism. We can all admire and learn from their unwavering positive attitudes. I don’t mean that we should adopt a “Pollyanna” attitude, and claim that the glass is half full when it is really empty. Instead, like these great martial artists, we could all benefit during our difficult moments, if we remember that, “this too shall pass.”

Control your reactions

Life always contains cycles of good times and bad. During either period, we only have control over one thing— our own behaviour—specifically, our reaction. Realizing this truth, great martial artists choose to develop habits, which lead them in the directions they wish to go. Once they determine their path, they stay diligent in their disciplines and choices. Everyone has heard the phrase, “attitude is everything,” but nothing sums up this concept as succinctly as the Japanese phrase, “Kaizen.” More than just a word, Kaizen represents a philosophy of commitment. The person makes a resolution to never stop improving.

Use your practice as a tool for disciplining and developing your body, as well as a means to building a strong and powerful attitude.

Seize every opportunity

A person with a weak will might hear about constant never-ending improvement and immediately think, “Nothing will ever be good enough. No matter how hard I try, I will always have to improve.” This same idea would have the opposite effect on an optimistic and enthusiastic martial artist. He understands the philosophy as an opportunity to continuously grow and strive for his fullest potential. He doesn’t judge or get frustrated by errors. Optimists correct and improve their behaviour, and perceive this as an opportunity. Pessimists see this same act, as proof that they are failing.

A plateau can be the next step in the Journey

Relate this idea of Kaizen to the practice of martial arts. With a pessimistic attitude, the student reaches only a very basic level of development in his physical technique. When he hits a plateau, he becomes frustrated and rationalizes why he cannot get any better. In his mind, he has decided that this is as good as he will ever be, or the effort that is required to get better is just too much. The lazy minded pessimist will give up. On the other hand, a strong willed, optimist makes a new commitment to practice each time he reaches a plateau. He understands that with diligence, his technique will improve. A plateau should not be the end of the journey, but just a place to assess your practice and make necessary changes before moving on.

Empower your life

It is important to note that most people are mentally defeated long before they are physically defeated. By developing the will, the body and the mind, martial artists are able to withstand and conquer most challenges in their lives. If you sometimes fall into the category of a pessimist, make a commitment right now to replace this debilitating habit. Use your practice as a tool for disciplining and developing your body, as well as a means to building a strong and powerful attitude. With Kaizen, you can empower all aspects of your life.

Do the things we fear, and death of fear is certain.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Determination breeds success

Pessimists might set a goal, but upon reaching the first obstacle, they simply give up. This process actually weakens the mind and causes more doubt. On the other hand, a strong willed positive person will accept the challenge, and push himself, determined to finish the project. Not only will he succeed, the process actually reinforces his strength of purpose and will. He enters an upward spiral, where his determination is breeding success, as well as more determination-more strength of will. A true martial artist possesses a strong body, but an even stronger mind.

Break through your limitations

What prevents most people from reaching their fullest potential? Why do most people snuggle up in their comfort zone and never push themselves to greater heights? The biggest reason is fear. When you determine to break through your limitations, remember the saying, “Everything that you want is on the other side of fear.” Do not get too comfortable in any part of your life. Compare your life to your workout. If everything is easy, and you are not really pushing yourself, then, you probably aren’t making much progress.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; be afraid of not learning what valuable lesson they have to offer you.

 Kensho Furuya


Sensei Matt Thurman, Shudokan Black Belt Academy – Aikido Nottingham