The start of a new year always seem to make us want to start all sorts of things. In my case, I am once again considering different long and short-term goals for my practice. My style has 12 empty-hand kata. The last time I checked, there were 12 months in a year. Anyone see where I am going with this.
But, simply picking a different kata to focus on each month does not force me to practice. So, in particularly compulsive moment, I created an excel spreadsheet to help me keep count of how many times I do each and every kata, each and every day, all year long. Will I use it? We shall see. However, my advice to myself, and to all of you, is to keep projects like this simple. In the case of my spreadsheet, it keeps count, nothing more. There are no comments, no lesson plans, no pictographs, photographs, or videos.
I have colleagues who write down everything that they do, every comment they receive, every lesson they learn. Sometimes writing like this is helpful to reinforce what was just said or done. But, I don’t know many people who go back years later and use this information for their growth. On the few occasions where I have embarked on this kind of recording, I can barely understand what I have written the next day. And time spent recording what you did is time not spent training. This is an important distinction because remembering something mentally is different from knowing it physically, and the latter is what is needed to make techniques work.
Of course, you might question all the time I spend blogging… and you would be right. This writing is not making my martial arts any better. I have to be careful not to take time away from training to write. But, in general, I see this as a separate but complimentary project.
You may also question the value of counting all the kata that I intend to do this year. Will this alone make me better? Probably not. More than once I have heard intelligent people say, “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Nothing in my counting will compel me to practice more thoughtfully. But here’s what I hope it will do: it will give me benchmarks throughout the year. “Wow, if I run this one 25 more times, I will have done it 200 times this month.” On a slow and unmotivated day, seeing a goal like that can really be a big help. The goal of the counting is to keep up the training. The goal of the training is to get better, practice better, and have those breakthroughs I have talked about before (Doing the work).
I am curious how many total kata I will do this year. I could guess, regarding past years, but I really have no idea. Having a real number in mind will be interesting when I tell a student that they need to practice something at least “this many times” before it will be natural, better, good enough, etc. I certainly don’t think that there is any number that is “enough” when it comes practicing kata. There is always more to learn. But knowing how many kata I have done in a given month or year will be interesting.
Any guesses, predictions, or advice? How many kata do you plan to do this year?