Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, December 02, 2013

What it Takes to Achieve Mastery in Martial Arts

"To Master a martial art, you much have a good teacher, natural ability and perseverance."

We've discussed the 10,000 Hour Rule. We've talked about Deliberate Practice. We've discussed strategies for achieving mastery. We've talked about everything more or less under our control.

I have a couple of links for you today. The first is from a TED Talk, and it's about Grit; or Perseverance.

The person who is the head of your martial arts organization isn't necessarily the best, most gifted of the art that ever walked through the dojo door, but he is the one who stuck around. Below is a short excerpt from some text that accompanied the TED Talk video that I found, followed by the video. The full accompanying text may be found here.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Now unfortunately, in our pursuit of Mastery, there are things that are not under our control, like our genes. Just as your genes establishes the baseline from which all of our good health practices must be measured, it is our genes that largely determines the extent of the expertise we can acquire as a martial artist.

Below is an article I found at RealClearScience on what it takes to become an Elite Athlete. Substitute "Martial Artist" for "Athlete." The full article may be read here.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why pursuing a calm, clear mind is my ultimate goal in my martial arts study. Physically I can get only so far, but I can always make my mind just a little more clear.

Can You Be an Elite Athlete?

As summer wanes, fall is in the air, and elite athletes are out in force.

In Flushing Meadows, New York, hundreds of the best tennis players in the world are plying their trade, dazzling spectators with crushing serves, pinpoint shots, and split-second reflexes that would make a cat envious.

When the tournament comes to a close, the expert artistry of tennis will give way to the raw, carnal athleticism of football. The NFL's regular season gets underway on Sunday, September 8th. There's simply nothing like watching massive, muscled men, some who can jump over you, batter each other with the force of minor car crashes.

Both sporting spectacles will leave many of us awed, and also wondering, "Why can't I do that?" A brief existential crisis ("What am I doing with my life?!") may also follow suit.

Athleticism is commonly believed to rely on two factors: genetics and practice. Which is most important? Well that depends upon whom you ask. Biologists and physiologists commonly choose genetics, while psychologists may be more apt to go with practice.

It's estimated that genetics determine anywhere from 20 to 80 percent of an athlete's performance. The information inherited from your parents regulates everything from your height and weight to your abilities to maintain muscle and deliver oxygen via red blood cells.


Paul said...

A continually clearer mind is such a most valuable goal to aim at. Thanks for sharing.

Rick Matz said...

We all have our constraints, but if we recognize and accept them, we can flourish around them.

Zacky Chan said...

I think the difficult part of this discussion has to do with the difference between the measures of success between professional sports and personal practices in the martial arts. Instead of competing with others to do a specific physical task better than others to win in order to make large amounts of money, I use my personal time and money to hone something inside of me which can drastically change my life for the better... or at least I think. Sometimes it seems the bigger original disadvantage you have in sports is just that, while it can magnify your success in self development greatly. THe genetic stuff is interesting though.

Rick Matz said...

Good insight!

Compass Architect said...

Mr Z. Chan is correct. Sport entertainment teaches a few interesting points in terms of social relationships. In terms of building an unique "game changing" skill, one has to carefully contemplate the decision.

One must have these qualities (discipline, courage, benevolence, credibility and wisdom) in order to understand the current state of their training