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Keep the Blasé Factor at Bay

As an instructor who loves teaching, for me it’s one of the most distressing sights to see. As I look around at a group of students training, my eye is caught by someone who, for wont of a better term, is simply “phoning it in.” They are going through the motions, but it’s blatantly obvious that the “blasé factor” has sunk its claws into them.

When we begin our martial art training, everything is new to us and we are like a kid in a candy store. We pay attention and absorb and process information continuously and rapidly. Our new environment gives us fresh sensory input; new sights, new sounds, new experiences, and even new attitudes. We are motivated and engaged learners.

But over the years, as our training continues, if we are not careful, the ascendancy of routine can start to have an effect and the blasé factor can begin to creep up on us. Habit takes over and, if we are not careful and paying attention, we can start mindlessly going through entire sections of our training.

In any form of martial art there is obviously a need to automate certain actions that might at first be complex or difficult and require much thought and attention on our part (the moving from volition to reflex action). But there is a fine line between efficiency and thoughtlessness, between mindfulness and mindlessness.

How can we keep the blasé factor at bay? There are numerous ways, and honestly, you are only limited by your own imagination. Try approaching a particular thing you do in a new or different way. Try working a technique in the opposite lead, not simply with the idea of training both leads, but because it can help you feel certain things that you have become oblivious to in your regular lead. Try closing your eyes when practicing something, removing your sight and forcing yourself to focus on kinesthetic feel. Try using a different form of training equipment which can give you a different experience. I can still hear my teacher, Dan Inosanto, telling me, “Chris, you’ve got to be able to train one thing ten different ways in order to stave off boredom.”

Most of all, keep the two M’s at the forefront of your training: Motivation and Mindfulness. Motivation, in the sense of active engagement and a continuous desire to learn and grow. Mindfulness, in the sense of constant presence of mind; immersing yourself fully in the moment with complete attentiveness and hereness.

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