Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

     Last week, it was testing preparation at Willow Martial Arts.  We went through the walking drills, forms and self-defense required for Taekwondo testing.  As I observed the students preparing, I remembered a statement Master Pat Weseman often told me when I was a colored belt preparing for my next Taekwondo test.  “Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.”


Kenneth and me practicing some cane self-defense techniques

     I observed students throwing punches with visible space in their fists.  Some students were pulling their heads down like turtles, when throwing kicks to try to increase the height on the kick.  Other students started their self-defense releases with their foot already dropped behind them, which kills the leverage to get free from a stronger opponent.

     The problem with these habits is it will take the student twice as long to unlearn the bad habit, which slows their progress.  A few key practices can help to prevent these bad habits.

     1. Start Slow!  When you learn a new Taekwondo technique, don’t be in such a hurry to throw it at full speed.  Start by making sure you are in the proper stance and you are maintaining it, while executing the technique.  Next, you should make sure the technique is executed correctly.  If you are throwing a front snap kick, are you pointing the ankle to push the ball toward the target?


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     2. Drill, Drill, Drill!  By far, the biggest weakness, I see in the dojang.  Many students will throw 10 or 20 kicks and think they mastered the move.  If you throw a couple hundred kicks, you will be able to do them decent.  If you throw a few thousand, you will be good.  If you throw 10,000 perfect side kicks, you will achieve mastery.

     3.  If you do develop a bad habit, attack it relentlessly.  On my Red Tip test, Master Weseman pointed out that I had a habit of moving my front foot on kicks, which scooted me up slightly.  On the typical walking drill, I was cheating myself out of two or three reps each time.  On a test, I was cut offing a couple reps, which gave me an undeserved break.  For the next six months, I glued that front foot to the floor every time I threw a kick.  I eliminated the habit and have never kicked in this manner since.

     If you want to be an exceptional martial artist, practice perfectly.  If you want to be a so-so martial artist, just practice.  Keep kicking.

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