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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast

Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast

Have you ever started something new, become enraptured with it, and try to spend as much time as possible doing it? Yeah, me too. Kenpo is one of my personal passions like that. For many beginners just starting down the martial arts path, it’s like that as well. Some become dojo junkies always looking for the next bit of knowledge, even if it’s beyond their current skill level.

Sparring is a great drill. Develop progress in steps.

Sparring is a great drill. Develop progress in steps.

But a word of caution. Trying to do too much, too soon can lead to frustration, burn out, or injury.

In our school the first time a student spars, adult or child, they’ve fallen in love with it. Sparring becomes the drill they request every time. And after sparring the focus is always on what can they do better. Which is great, but trying to improve too many skills at once is daunting and frustrating. If you focus on your stances, where to keep your hands, the angles, and watching your opponent at the same time, you’ll be overwhelmed and not focus on anything. And likely see no improvement as a result. It can be so difficult to do that burnt out can occur.

The key to avoid this problem is to take baby steps. Work on your footwork. Get comfortable enough with your fighting stance so that you can work on your hands and the footwork doesn’t suffer. (too much) Then continue the progression forward by looking for targets and changing angles. Once you can move effectively, then you can begin watching your opponent. It will take longer to develop but you’ll be a better martial artist for traveling the longer road.

There is a reason the system has an order to it. The order ensures each practitioner has the opportunity to learn and develop the skills necessary to build upon. Basics build into techniques. Techniques build into freestyle application which becomes sparring. The fluidity of the skills takes many hours of mat time and homework. It doesn’t happen overnight. Trying to master all the nuances at once results in mastery of none.

Your instructor and higher rank classmates will be there to guide you and make sure you’re ready before learning the next skill. But in the YouTube age, some self discipline is needed to not drill things beyond your reach while at home. Seeing where you’re going and what you’ll eventually learn is great for goal setting. Take the time to get there and build the skills along the way.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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