In the book The Journey: The Oral Histories of 24 of the Most Proficient American Kenpoists of Today, Mr. Skip Hancock said one of the mottoes he’s lived by as a result of Kenpo karate was: Train hard, train regularly, train intelligently, and make no excuses. It’s a simple yet powerful statement. It’s really resonated with me, and now I try to incorporate into our school.
Train hard - When you’re on the mat, work as hard as you can. Time in the dojo is limited, as is practice at home. Life happens, so when you can train, make the most of it. Focus on what you’re doing now as opposed to what comes after practice. Try to perform each repetition better than the prior one. See if you notice something you hadn’t picked up on before. The goal of hard training is to find your exhaustion line and keep moving it back.
Train regularly - There are only so many opportunities to train with your instructor per week. You’ve paid for the classes so be there for them. If you can help it, don’t miss class. Set aside time each day or week to practice on your own. (Yes, there is Kenpo homework each week.) Besides the regular class schedule, set up your personal workout routine. Once it becomes a habit you’ll really see your skill as a martial artist improve.
Train intelligently - Practicing martial arts intelligently can mean many things. The most obvious is if you’re injured, take it easy or take time off completely. You earn quite a few bumps and bruises doing karate. If you don’t give them a chance to heal, you can’t do rules 1 and 2 above. But training intelligently can also mean not rushing through the curriculum. Knowledge, experience, and movement don’t happen over night. Your instructor got there through years of hard work. Trying to emulate the instructor in movement, power, and speed likely won’t work. Setting your personal expectations improperly can lead to massive frustration and could set you up for failure. Training intelligently means knowing where you’re at in your own development cycle and understanding how to get to the next level with the patience to allow it to happen.
Make no excuses - This is about responsibility; responsibility to yourself and your training partners. Your Kenpo journey is ultimately a solitary path. You only have to answer to you for the choices you make along your journey. If you don’t fulfill the first three rules of the motto the only person not receiving the full benefit of the marital arts experience is you. Unless . . . you have training partners depending on you. If their path runs close alongside yours, and they need your help to progress, you can’t let them down. You have a responsibility to you and your training partners to put it all out there on the mat, every time. If you don’t, for whatever reason, down make an excuse. Own up to it. Personal accountability is one of the greatest assets a martial artist can develop.
Train hard, train regularly, train intelligently, and make no excuses is a great motto that fits well for our school. The students and I do our best to uphold it. Is this motto ideal for everyone? No as it demands a lot. But the martial artists it does apply to, those are the people I want as students and training partners.