Practice Within When You're Without

Has there ever been a time when you wanted to train, but for some reason couldn't get to the dojo? Maybe you didn't have time. Maybe you were ill, and all you could do, having been sentenced to the living room couch all day, is wonder why daytime television is so… daytime. Well take heart. Next time there are too few hours in the day, or you find yourself flat on your back, remember to workout within when you're without.

Did you know that your brain can't tell the difference between something vividly imagined and something actually experienced? It's true. That's why you wake up in the middle of the night with your heart racing after being chased in slow motion by some unseen animal, only to arrive home, locking the door behind you in the nick of time. Did you know your brain had absolutely no idea the animal wasn't real, and you weren't really being chased? Why were you sweating?

Okay, so you've thrown ten thousand sidekicks with your right leg over the years, and now it's perfect. Why is it perfect? Is it because you've physically conditioned the muscles needed to throw a sidekick? Partly. But a muscle, regardless of its size, is like a lamp. Without the proper electrical current running through it, it just won't work the way you intend it to.

What you're really doing when you throw technique after technique after technique is building the neurological paths from your muscles to your brain, that across which, the nerve impulses required to throw your side kick can travel. And the more you do something the clearer the path becomes.

Practice within when you're without.

When you're finished reading, lay somewhere comfortably with your legs uncrossed, your arms at your sides and your eyes closed. Pick your favorite kata or a single technique and perform it in your imagination with a tremendous amount of emotional intensity to where you can actually see yourself in your minds eye. See yourself performing in as much detail as possible. It may take some practice, but it will come. What are you wearing? What color is it? Are you in shoes or bare feet? Is the color that surrounds you dark or light? What can you hear? Your gi snapping? Your foot sliding across an imaginary floor? Your breathing?

Next, see yourself doing the technique you dislike most. The one you've always had trouble with. I think you'll be surprised at what you discover. Because your mind has no way of knowing that the kick isn't actually being thrown, it sends the very same signals it would if you were throwing the kick. Your brain will still perform the technique poorly until you've practiced it sufficiently enough to clear the path.

Visualize your techniques in your minds eye with as much emotional intensity as you can. Visualize the toughest opponents you can think of, and defeat them honestly and fairly with the cleanest, crispest, most perfect techniques you've ever thrown, and never lose. See yourself holding the trophy or bending at the waist to have the gold medal hung around your neck. It's hard work. And you'll find the one who dismisses it as only dreaming, will be one of the many watching you cross the finish line first.

Practice within when you're without.

Until next time… Stay sharp!

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