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!