Intensity – Taking it to the next level

We’re ready to take it to the next level!

Everyone knows that karate is good at developing focus and concentration. And those are, indeed, important skills to have. 

Life can be so overwhelmingly distracting, that we can all use an extra ounce of focus to keep us on track.

For the next month we’re going to be increasing intensity. We’ll be working on a relatively simple set of moves, called san dan gi. Three moves: 3 moves on the receiving end, 3 moves on the attacking end. 

This relatively simple set of moves are the perfect opportunity to encourage focus, concentration, and increasing intensity.

So what is intensity?

 Intensity refers to the level of force, power, strength; but in this case, we’re also going to use it to refer to the level of focus, or concentration.

Yes, when we’re working out, when we’re doing power reps, we want to see a high level of power, or giving all you’ve got. Think: “I’m going to go as hard as I can”.

When we’re working on techniques, like san dan gi, we want to see total focus, and attention to every detail.

Karate is all about the details

Every movement, every stance is very precise in Okinawan Goju Ryu. It is in part how character is developed: paying attention to every detail, not being ok with good enough. 

But it goes deeper. The longer you train in karate, the more you learn about the parts of the body and how they can be affected by a strike or block. When you learn the precise moves, you are also learning about anatomy and vital points, and how to get the most out of every movement you make. 

Intensity vs Concentration

When it comes to Intensity, we want to see 100% effort given in class. Each day may bring a different level of what your 100% looks like, but be sure to bring it all.

Going through the motions will not benefit your body or your mind. Be all in.

Concentration is developed in karate quite naturally because it is so difficult. The moves are counter to what comes naturally, so even to walk or stand may take full concentration.

How can you help your children develop concentration?

The truth is, like most things, it’s through actually DOING things that you develop concentration.

We try to use some games and exercises in the karate school that develop focus. Simon Says turns into Sempai Says. Especially when the words don’t match what the senpai is doing (“senpai says touch your knees” is the instruction but the senpai touches his elbows), that helps to increase concentration.

Here’s an article with a number of ways to develop some pretty great skills in children.

Even listening to stories helps kids to develop focus.  We’ll use picture books to help the little ones develop focus and listening skills.

We need to have margins in order to have patience

There is a concept that has crossed my radar frequently over the last few years. That concept is about having margins.

Margins?

When I first heard it, I didn’t have a clue what was meant. Margins. You know: like the blank space along all the edges of the page (or even this post). If we crammed the writing right up against every edge, it would actually make reading pretty difficult. 

Well, when you cram every moment with things to be done, life can get pretty difficult.

We need space

We do need space. And time. For ourselves. For thought. For breathing. 

If we fail to plan for that space, we can find ourselves without it. That’s when we find ourselves running a rat race without even remembering why we’re in the race to begin with.

What’s your win?

Some talk about being in a race. Well, when you’re in a race, you want to win, right? So decide what’s your ‘win’ ahead of time.

If we’re going to run this race, wouldn’t be nice to know what winning would look like? If you don’t know what your win is, how will you know if you’ve succeeded?

For instance: he who has the most toys when he dies wins. Absolutely horrible goal, but it makes a funny t-shirt. And it’s a pretty concrete way to know if you’re “winning”. (Hopefully none of you think this is a good win!)

But take some time. Think about what winning would look like in each area of your life. I’m going to share some wins that Andy and Sandra Stanley set for themselves.

Early in their marriage they came up with what would be a win for them: that they each would always want to be where the other person was. Pretty simple, yet pretty profound. 

Once they had a child they decided the over arching goal for their kids would be: that they would want to be with each other and their parents after they no longer had to. Pretty simple, and yet who can argue that’s not a great win?

Now create margins

Once you know your win, it’s easier to make decisions. Does this get me closer to my goal? 

If something might start to crowd in on what your goals are, then it makes it a little easier to decide what to pare down.

Once you’ve pared down your activities, and have some margin, you’ll find yourself with a lot more patience.

Why patience?

Let’s face it – isn’t the most common reason for running out of patience, is that you feel that you’re running out of time?

When you’ve got extra time built in, then you don’t get overwhelmed, and you have the, what some might say, the luxury of patience. 

But remember to practice patience with yourself! Changes come about with small steps over time. Don’t try to radically alter your life all at once. Choose one area in which you can create a little margin. Baby steps. When you see the difference it makes, you’ll find the motivation to make more changes.

Happy margin making!