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Strive to Go Further

You know the feeling you have when, by dint of commitment, hard work, and blood, sweat and tears you’re able to do something, be it a kick, a punch, an armlock, or a hand immobilization attack exceptionally well? It’s exhilarating, right? For some people, that moment and feeling can signal a cessation point with regard to working on that motion or action. They drop it in their combative toolbox and leave it. Their attitude is ‘”Okay, I’ve got.”However, for others, they know that as good as that feeling is, and as far as they’ve come, the joy is in always striving to go further.

Bruce Lee was a sterling example of constantly striving to go further. He was always pushing the envelope and crossing boundaries in order to expand his potential and make his techniques and movements faster or more powerful. Lee always believed he could be better and do better than he had done in the past. In his martial art notes he wrote --

“Dedication, absolute dedication, is what keeps one ahead. A sort of indomitable obsessive dedication and the realization that there is no end or limit to this because life is simply an ever-growing process, an ever-renewing process.”

When you do something, be it a kick, punch, hand trap, lock, whatever, you want to do it the very best that you can do it. So when you’re finished training on it, ask yourself, “Was that the best you could do?” But remember it’s important to keep the question in the proper context. Posing this question in the correct manner (not in a derogatory or self-deprecating way but rather a positive and constructive manner) can help you recognize that what you did was not perfect (in reality perfection is a theory, an illusion -- it is non-existent), and that there are areas where you can improve, and perhaps even significantly improve. No matter how good you are, you’re striving to find all the little nuances where improvements are possible. And the more you learn, the deeper the layering goes, and the deeper your understanding becomes.

It’s also important to keep in mind the principle of the “rate of diminishing returns.” What this means is that, as you reach the higher levels of skill in what you’re doing, the improvements that are possible become smaller and smaller and take longer to achieve. For example, in athletics, a sprinter just starting out on their career out can shave seconds off the time as they develop, but as they ascend to the higher levels of the sport, they have to work much harder and much longer to possibly cut a few hundredths of a second from their time.

The following are some principles that can aid you in striving to go further:

  • Make excellence your priority – Cultivate an unquenchable desire to do the extraordinary – Kick the concept of mediocrity out of your life.

  • Set and follow a higher standard -- Use the full measure of your skills and talents – Go the extra mile.

  • Take responsibility from start to finish – Have a dedicated commitment to whatever you choose to do.

  • Pay close attention to the details – Make sure that even the aspects of what you do that no one will ever see are done well -- Carry the quality of what you do all the way through.

The Olympic motto is “Citius – Altius - Fortius,” which translates to “Faster – Higher – Stronger.”Perhaps we could purloin those three words and apply them as benchmarks for use in our personal JKD training.

The pursuit of excellence is an attitude, an approach, and a choice. It’s about doing all you can to be the very best you can be and putting the highest level of quality in everything you do. When it comes to pursuing excellence in Jeet Kune Do, the phrase “Ok, I got it” can be your worst enemy. In every aspect of your JKD training, strive to go further.