//08// Breaking Bad Habits

8 Jul

For some reason we’re on summer break at my dojo and it’s been really interesting! Last year I managed to keep running around but this year I’ve been taking it easy and let me tell you, it’s something I could get used to.

We have two weeks with no classes. After my last kids’ class before the break I was so sad that I wouldn’t get to see the kids for two weeks. I reminded them to practice, practice, practice. Then the next class time rolled around and I was still at work. The pang of longing was there but not as strong as I expected to be. In fact, I got to used to it pretty quickly. I work better at night anyway. So it’s been a whole week of work and then doing nothing but relaxing after class. Or maybe going to the mall, which is bad. I only filled up my gas tank once the entire week which is unheard of in my normal life. I can tell you, I could definitely get used to it. But that would mean never going to class again. Of course, that’s not what I want. So this lazy lifestyle cannot turn into a bad habit.

A couple of weeks before my second degree black belt test my Sensei and I had a talk. She said that she had this discussion with all the future black belts before their tests. She wanted to talk about things that I could improve. Only she was having some trouble coming up with any.

I was more than happy to help her out with a laundry list of things I needed to improve. Like my shuto blocks aren’t chambered correctly every time. Or my back stance could be a bit off. And my feet directly underneath my knees could be a problem. And I have a bent wrist issue on things like high block. And I need to keep my hands up more consistently while sparring. Well, the list goes one. But Sensei said she wasn’t talking about physical things but rather what I could improve on as a human being. Well, I’m not a perfect person either so we came up with a few things but I was still thinking about my other bad habits as I prepared for my test.

The thing about habits is once it’s a habit it’s very hard to break. I’ve had some of these bad habits for years and it really worries me, especially being an instructor for impressionable young children. Every time the kids are doing something in a funny way and the other black belts are like, they need to correct this & that, I cringe inside because I feel like it’s a direct result of my bad habits. Like I’m the example they see but I’m not perfect. So it worries.

Of course, it’s way easier to correct others than to break your own bad habits. So the foot angle I have to constantly worry about is easy to point out in others. But there’s a big difference between saying it and doing it. Sometimes I think the visual a more effective teaching tool, especially when speaking to children who just may not have the vocabulary to understand what’s really important.

So what’s the best way to break a bad habit? Get hit in the head a few times? Well that’s already happened to me so I’m not sure it’s the best method. I just have to think about it constantly in my quieter moments, especially when we’re going through the basics. I think my favorite thing to do in class is drills, just punches and kicks up and down the room, back and forth. It gives you time to actually think about what’s going on. Of course, you can’t practice the basics too much. While you’re sparring or in the middle of the kata there just isn’t the same amount of thinking time.

The other place where I practice on my basics is when I practice on my own. That’s something I’ll need to do more of. Just looking in the mirror and really studying myself. The other part of it is having others help me figure out what I’m doing wrong. It’s not enough to just look at myself all of the time. My dad encouraged me to do this while I was practicing for my last test. He has a good point.

As simple as it is to pick up bad habits it’s that much harder to break them. That’s why I encourage my students not to start in with their bad habits. I try to get them to break it right away– which is easier said than done. There’s one little girl who’s getting those elbows out in his fighting stance but through some knowing glances I think she’ll be able to break herself out of that one. And I know it’ll be the same for me.

Only one more week of break left!

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