One of the hardest things to understand is that you need to “put in the work” to become successful. This is different from “paying your dues”. Putting in the work is the educational side of the equation. While paying your dues is getting out there and working (getting experience from those who came before).

Putting in the work is learning all the skills and basics to perform everything that you need. An example that I’ve used in classes has to do with learning the alphabet. Without knowing the alphabet, it is very difficult to form words…then sentences…then paragraphs…then stories. Makes sense, right? Being old now, I think this is an aspect that gets lost in education. Setting up the proper building blocks creates quality basics and everything after that is advanced understanding. Those who come to my classes have heard “advanced techniques are basic techniques made simpler”.

I think that the younger you are, the more difficult it is to put in the work. Attention and interest kinda run rampant causing limits is developing successful skills. It seems that bright and shiny stuff keeps the attention longer but they may not be from topics/activities that will be a benefit later. Quite often the needed work is boring and repetitive. Yeah, not much fun in that.

Credit to my sword teacher and U.S. Marine, Marshall Parnell, I learned a phrase a few years back that explains this portion of martial arts training. The Marine concept of “Embrace The Suck” helps carry you through the putting in the work phase of training. It won’t be fun. It won’t be easy. It won’t provide amazing insights. Nope, it is just getting the work done correctly and completely. Did I forget to mention that putting in the work had to be correct work and complete work? Sorry, that’s the base to learning the basics, since there are no shortcuts. If the work done isn’t complete and correct, bad habits get created.

Bad habits make training more difficult as they take so long to correct. The other part is training with intention, which is very difficult for younglings to understand, as just doing repetitions of a drill or form without a purpose is wasted time and effort. Intentionally doing techniques will make them applicable. This will let the student build combinations and application variations as they continue to develop.

This is where several concepts and principles start to merge in training (and for life).

1. Putting in the work develops self-discipline, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
2. Developing yourself helps develop your capabilities in utilizing the OODA Loop.
3. The OODA Loop helps extend situational awareness.
4. Situational awareness provides technique application options.

All of this follows the life-long training that can come from the martial arts. A conversation with Northstar Haidong Gumdo Master Instructor, Susan Shirk, included the following.

“What motivates you as a martial artist?
Are you training for your next promotion? To win at the next tournament? To meet a fitness goal?
Or maybe you train because you like how the challenge pushes you to grow. Because the people you train with are like family now. Because martial arts has changed your life and you want others to have that opportunity as well.
Your answer will depend on if you see martial arts as a Finite Game or an Infinite Game.” 

Simon Sinek, author of “The Infinite Game,” defines a Finite Game as one with known players, fixed rules, and an agreed upon time frame. At some point the game ends and the players go on to play another day.
Tournaments are a perfect example of a Finite Game. So are rank promotions.

Infinite Games, on the other hand, have known and unknown players, the rules are changeable, and the objective is to perpetuate the game. Players drop out because they lose the will or ability to keep playing, but the game continues on. Business, relationships, and politics are all Infinite Games.
Training for the sake of training (learning and growing) illustrates the Infinite Game.

When you are training, what and why are you doing? Are you making it worth your efforts? Make sure that you are training for your purpose!

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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