Ok. So we all talk to ourselves. Some of you might be thinking, “talk to myself? I don’t talk to myself. Do I talk to myself?” It’s ok. We all do it.
As a martial artist I often find myself sparring with my inner critic. Sometimes we have a little light randori – she helps me identify my weaknesses and occasionally I surprise her with a few techniques. Other nights however, I get an absolute battering. I come away bloody, bruised and generally unenthused about returning to training.
With the grading only a few days away, these full contact kumite nights are becoming more common. And, while I know she thinks this kind of sparring is helpful, there’s only so much pummeling a girl can take.
By all means, a little self-criticism is healthy. It helps us improve and keeps our ego in check. But be warned. A good sparring partner corrects and encourages. They’re not negative, judgmental or mean.
Members of the dojo come and go but your internal training partner is one you’re stuck with for life. You may as well try and befriend them. They have the potential to be your best teacher or your most malicious opponent. And, on days when it’s just the two of you, this training buddy may just make or break your sessions.
I think sometimes the best athletes have relatively less internal commentary going on in their heads. Rather than questioning and critiquing every action, their inner coach just says “go” and encourages or observes quietly. If you look to martial artists like Higaonna-Sensei, it’s pretty clear that he and his inner instructor are a compatible pair. Perhaps this is what he’s saying when he tells us:
“Trust in yourself. I can. I cannot… no. Always, I can, I can”.Simple advice. Like many of Sensei’s pearls this one really rings true for me - something I'm going to try and remember next time I catch myself getting a beating.
What do you make of your inner doppelganger? Are they a friend? Or a foe?
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