Everyone is familiar with the statement “Practice makes perfect.” Ahhhh, if only this were true. In reality, as my good friend, mentor and world renowned MMA coach Greg Nelson has said for years, “Practice makes HABIT.” Whatever you do repeatedly will become your habit. Good or bad. So you must practice every movement with a focus on technical excellence in order to actually make it “perfect.” Conversely if you practice the movement in sub-par manner you will develop a sub-par execution of said movement as your habit.
Let’s take archery for example. Most people who have never been taught how to shoot a bow think you just pull the string back and let it rip. In reality there is an extensive, multi-step “shot process” that goes into every shot. Whether you train Olympic recurve style shooting or some other method, you do that process the same every single time you shoot an arrow. If you don’t then you will not be consistent. And no matter whether your archery goal is target shooting or bow hunting, if your shot process is inconsistent, your arrow groups will be also.
So what does this have to do with strength training and martial arts practice? Here’s a line you’ve likely seen before. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” This quote is often attributed to Aristotle but was likely written by historian Will Durant. Be that as it may, everything we do becomes our habit. In the physical arena it becomes muscle memory and in the emotional arena it’s behavior. Am I saying we are not slaves to our emotions? Yes I am. I make a concerted effort every day to put a smile on my face no matter what has gone wrong. And guess what? I feel happier because I act happier. Similar to physical movements, the more that I practice this the easier it becomes.
We can go down the “don’t be a slave to your emotions road” on another day. For now I have one simple suggestion for you in terms of training. Always practice everything you do with technical proficiency. Do not agree to practice something poorly. The habit you build is dependent upon how YOU practice.
Stay strong, my friends!
Injuries are an unfortunate part of the training cycle. Even with the best program and technique, you will eventually get hurt. Hopefully it will be minor, but sometimes it will be significant. As upsetting as serious injuries are, they make the healing process very clear because neither crutches nor a sling allow for much in the way of training. Even if you can move, pain can often be exacerbated from just the jostling of every day movement that would otherwise be innocuous.
Luckily, for most of us serious injuries are not that common. Let me pause to say injuries must be diagnosed by qualified individuals. This means both you and your trainer are likely not qualified – myself included. However, assuming you get the injury diagnosed properly and it’s minor enough that you can work around it without delaying your recovery, please do!
Speaking for myself, I recently was sidelined by a rib injury. It was minor but enough that I couldn’t press, dead lift, do pull ups or ab contractions. So I did what I had left – squats. Body weight at first and then with light loads.
The bottom line is you have to find a balance between recuperating properly (not slowing down at all) and excessively (wrapping yourself in bubble wrap).
Get injuries diagnosed.
Ask what movements you can do safely.
And then do them. Wisely. Don’t overdo it because you can only do one thing.
Stay strong, my friends!
I spent last week at my brother’s homestead outside Providence, Rhode Island. He and his wife have a beautiful little spot with 5 acres, nut trees, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, pigs and (soon) a steer. He worked his butt off for years and decided to retire from his previous line of work and live the good life on the farm. I’m not sure if he realized it would be more work than he’s ever done before!
Anyway, I will write a more in depth piece on this for the StrongFirst website, but for now feast your eyes on the beastly rocks we had to remove to get the livestock shelter built. Oh and the truck that pulled on rock out and the jackhammer that broke up the other one are just figments of your imagination. We did everything by hand…yeah.
How heavy could that be?
When you need more brute force, it’s good to have a diesel truck handy.