Sunday, December 12, 2010


I had an opportunity to spend some one on one time with my Sensei recently. Something hasn't been feeling the same lately.  I felt that I had somehow slipped into neutral with my training.  I was getting to class, I was training with a serious mind and I was enjoying myself, but I didn't really feel like I was improving.  My technique still worked, but something was a little off.

So I asked him about it.  He said simply that he had noticed and I hadn't been as focused lately.  At first I was taken aback.  I always pay attention and am serious about my training.  As I started to respond, saying that I didn't realize I had been unfocused and that I hoped he didn't think I wasn't taking things seriously, he sort of chuckled and said "No, no, I think it's all the stuff going on in your life right now."

I've got lots going on in my life right now, and most of it's positive but it was an interesting statement.

My Sensei wasn't concerned in the slightest.  He just mentioned that he thought my mind was really busy, with lots of 'stuff' bouncing back and forth.

I usually think of focus as paying attention, really listening and concentrating on the task at hand.  I also consider it training in technique seriously and realistically.

The other day I realized focus can be a different thing.  I came away with two things:

1.  Sometimes our focus is affected by what's going on in our lives.  You can lose focus from negative or positive things that are going on.  This is o.k.  It'll happen from time to time.  There's no need to worry about it too much.

2.  I plan on spending a few moments on meditation before and after class, to re-focus myself on my training.  Life can be so busy, a few minutes here and there can work wonders.  In fact, meditation shouldn't be confined to martial arts training, it's good for almost anyone, anytime.

Interestingly, we went on to work on some concepts and techniques after our chat and it was one of the most productive sessions that I've had in a long time.  Just talking about focus helped to free my mind and my body followed suit.

Focus means many things.  Accepting that my own will vary with the ups and downs of life was a valuable lesson.  In martial arts, as in with life, it's always good to look at something from a different perspective.

Focus on that for a bit...


  1. Great post and new blog template!

    I have been to a few classes since my work schedule has slowed down. It felt like I was there in body and spirit but my mind was somewhere else.

    It is good to be reminded that focus will vary and it is OK. :)

  2. I know it can feel a bit disappointing to know that despite your best efforts at training you appear to be making no progress. I've been there too. A temporary lack of focus may be the reason although I would have thought you'd be aware of that.

    In my experience (in reference to myself and observing dojo mates)progress natually seems to follow a step wise path. Incremental jumps in progress seem to be followed by plateaus of varying length (irrespective of how much effort is being made). The plateaus seem to be particularly long in the mid kyu grades (say green to purple belt). Then there's suddenly a big acceleration in progress in the year before black belt. I don't know what grade you are but perhaps you're just in a natural plateau stage at the moment. The good news is the next step could be just around the corner!

  3. Michele,

    Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you like the new template, especially since I wouldn't know how to get the old one back. (self taught blogger... Yikes!). Good luck with getting back to class or enjoying the holidays or both.


    One of the reasons for the post was the fact that in the past, I've been aware that lack of focus has been an issue. It's normally when things haven't been quite as positive in my life. The surprise was that I didn't realize it was focus that I was lacking.

    I've had to make peace with the ups and downs over the years. You are very accurate in discussing the plateaus and that whole green belt to brown belt range can have lots of them.

    Even though I started over a few years ago, it sort of caught me off guard that I was in a plateau again. I've been through those belt rankings in other styles (and in my own many years ago), so for some reason I felt it wouldn't happen to me again. I suspect that's a tiny bit of ego rearing it's head. One of the reasons I started again was to banish that very thing. Maybe it's the martial 'spirits' making sure I'm in check.

    Thanks for the comments.