Habits: train hard, fight easy

I spend time at the dojo. A lot of time.

Little do the martial arts sesei know that the mom stitching handicrafts or reading a book in the corner - that would be me - considers the classes as homeschooling teacher lessons. While the sensei are training the students on the mat, they are also training me.

Of the many lessons I learn, one is the value of practicing something over and over and over again. On the mat during warm-ups and during lessons, the students practice movements over and over and over again, until their bodies have memorized the movements and their brains don't have to think about how to make them. The brain is then free to think at a higher level, such as thinking strategically, and the body is conditioned to do the work required.

One tough-guy sensei tells the students when they are training, "Train hard, fight easy!" And he says, "Train easy, fight hard!" And then he says, "Drop and give me 25 push-ups!"

He means that if the students prepare hard for a tournament, the tournament will be easy. But, if they train easy, they won't be prepared and the competition will be very hard for them. Training is emphasized, training is essential.

Maybe it's a stretch, but that sounds like Charlotte Mason habit training to me.

At first a habit is hard work and takes a lot of determination of body and mind, but once you have the actions ingrained in your day, the work is easy and you don't have to think about it anymore. And if you don't have good habits, as I learn over and over again, the work remains a struggle and your brain is stuck having to think about it too much.

Like in the martial arts - or in anything else - training leads to improvement. And improvement feels great. You don't need any reward other than that good feeling, but sometimes it's hard to remember that good feeling in the midst of the hard work of habit training.

When I feel myself slacking off my habits and when I'm tempted to let things slide, I remind myself, "Train hard, fight easy!" And then I drop and do 25 push-ups.

Just kidding about the 25 push-ups.

Photo: One of my favorite inspiring views. It's such an enjoyment to watch others work hard, isn't it?


  1. 25? I think I would die. Actually, I'm not even sure I could do one...

  2. What a great mantra to remember when you are in the midst of habit training. Thanks!

    As for the push ups, I know I can't do one. lol

  3. awesome observations and I think CM herself would agree with you... I've even read her along these lines, well perhaps not with martial arts specifically :) now, why did you not submit this to the CM Blog Carnival on Habits?! You must share your insights!! I almost missed it! ;)

    amy in peru

  4. Great post, I need to use this in training myself a few habits (Hey, and and maybe the push-ups will help in my physical fitness, he he he).