Striving for Perfection: Your Ongoing Martial Arts Goal

While a class of Advanced Junior level students was warming up, the Sensei told them to strive for perfection in all that they do.

One student spoke up and claimed that a person could strive to be “perfectly bad”.

“This is correct” explained the Sensei. “However, in this instance, I am referring to the kind of effort needed to improve your Martial Arts.”

Here, “perfection” means:

  • Whole and complete
  • Having all the desired qualities
  • Correct in every detail

The clever student realized that “Practice makes perfect” is true in both aspects, positive and negative. Ok, so we need a better aphorism. Consider: “Practice makes perfect, so be careful what you practice.”

Perfect Attitude

Pebbles Balanced - Cairn Along Water
Thought and action, calmly together.

Martial arts is unique amongst sports. Here, attitude plays an even greater role than other activities, affecting both your ability to learn and the instructor’s ability to teach. What happens if attitude goes negative? You have a risk of producing bullies, a result none of us want.

So, in order to produce disciplined and focused martial artists, the correct (or perfect) attitude is vital. Think of the movie The Karate Kid (yes, the 80s original!). Daniel-san’s instructor, Mr. Miyagi, made it clear that attitude (how you approach the thing) and aptitude (how well you can do the thing) go together to create balanced…perfect…training.

You must train using the correct technique, with the correct attitude, in order to get the most benefit.

Practice In Everything

It’s easy to think that perfection is only in the most flashy of techniques. However, all areas of your training must follow the same disciplined approach. For example, when stretching, proper alignment is necessary in order to achieve the goal of flexibility. A stretch done wrong, or even worse, sloppily or lazily, is worthless. Carelessness can even cause injury.

Similarly, bowing needs to be done perfectly. Half-bows or miniature bows are not correct. Remember the connection between the physical and the mental; what we do in our bodies is reflected in our heads and vice-versa. A polished exterior is caused by, and helps build, a focused interior.

Martial arts works on all levels, which is why perfect practice is necessary in order to achieve perfect progress.

One of my Instructors, Sensei George Fetas, took Super 8 films of his Kata (this was before the age of live-streaming) in order to improve his form, as perfect execution was his goal for himself in the Martial Arts. Today, this is much easier, and you can see your own progress clearly over time.

Of course, if you want to watch techniques already done at a high level, all students can access rank-specific videos for their curriculum. Use these as “on-demand private lessons” at your convenience.

Mastery Through Perfect Practice

Martial Arts training is about realizing the true master already within yourself. It is about creating physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual connections to enhance your being. In other words, training helps you connect with the source of aliveness and consciousness inside.

The experience that accompanies this realization is one of completeness, another meaning of perfection. The goal of Mastery in the Martial Arts goes hand-in-hand with your own lifelong journey of growth. Training helps grow self-realization and actualization, building your knowledge of self to where you can rejoice in the experience of perfection.

Looking for a way to begin your journey towards perfection? Join us for a class today!

© Shihan Robert H. Mason 2023

Image by Nandhu Kumar from Pixabay