The start of a new year is a time when we traditionally set our goals for the year ahead. These may be to lose weight, get fitter, try a new activity, or change jobs. Goals can be useful. They provide direction, focus and motivation. They also enable us to measure our progress and bring feelings of satisfaction and pride when we achieve a particular goal.
For a while I have been thinking about and questioning the importance of goals within the context of a traditional martial art. Many people, particularly those who are relatively new to martial arts, focus on the goal of achieving a certain rank. In the early stages of training, they focus on attaining the next coloured belt. As a student progresses, the goal often shifts to reaching the rank of black belt. Students will also focus on the goal of learning new material or starting weapons training. These types of goals provide them with motivation, particularly when training becomes difficult, along with a sense of achievement and satisfaction when the goal is reached.
Unlike many of the people I have trained with, I have never really set myself any specific goals for my martial arts training. My intention from the day I started training in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ was to continue to train for as long as I found it enjoyable. This has led me on the path towards 2nd degree black belt. However, it has never been a particular goal to become a black belt or run a martial arts school. It just happened as a natural progression of my commitment to enjoying my training.
I believe that my enjoyment and commitment to my training in Kuk Sool Won™ has been much greater because I have not set myself any particular goal. Instead, each training session or class I teach becomes my main focus. This enables me to be fully present, participating in my martial art practice and teaching in a very mindful way. I endeavour to engage fully with my students and almost always find it an energising and rewarding experience. It frees me from the stresses of the day and my worries or concerns for tomorrow. For me, martial arts provides a truly mindful activity.
A traditional martial art is not a series of destinations. Rather, it is a continuous journey of physical development and personal discovery. What is truly important and of value is in what we learn along the way, rather than what goal we achieve or rank we attain. Focusing on a goal involves focusing on some future state, rather than the present moment. While I would never discourage students from setting goals for themselves and their training, I do encourage them to place a much greater focus on their current training. Being truly present in each moment of every training session is tremendously beneficial and enriches our daily lives. This provides richness and satisfaction on a daily basis. Goals are achieved as a by-product rather than the end-product of training. Ultimately a more mindful approach to training which focuses on the journey enhances our lives more than occurs through the achievement of any specific goal.
So for 2019 my commitment is to continue to learn and to enjoy my training and teaching on each day that I am fortunate enough to participate in Kuk Sool Won™.
JKN Jane Hurst
First degree black belt and school owner
Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero
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Caroline is a 4th degree black belt and Jane is a 1st degree black belt in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ . They run 2 Kuk Sool Won™ martial arts schools in New Zealand.