There are many components to mastery but one of them is developing the capacity to execute physical actions at a high level of precision and with a high level of consistency. This type of persistent ability, especially under pressure, is only achieved through significant, high quality, repetition.
And well, repetition is… repetitive. And repetitiveness can be quite challenging to manage for our easily distracted minds. Boredom is one of the biggest enemies of effective training.
Boredom is a Failure of Attention
To get good at drilling we need to develop an internal, mental practice to accompany our physical practice. This is a practice of sustained attention and curiosity.
Part of why we get bored when drilling is that we have failed to draw our attention inward into our body and into the action of the technique itself. And through this failure we have not given our attention something to grab onto, so it wanders.
Truly, any given technique is full of a myriad of interesting variables and sensations that can occupy our full attention, if we can only bring those to the forefront. Consider your connection to the ground, the way your feet move and press, the sinking, compressing, and extending of the muscles of the leg, core, or upper body; feeling how your weapon connects back along the path from your hands all the way to your feet; being aware of how your breath pairs with a given movement; noticing how you communicate force through your connection with the ground and how you then move through your body to transmit that force into your weapon.
Questions and Curiosity
What are ways that you can maximize the successful completion of a technique’s objective? Can the motion be done more smoothly, more fully, more powerfully, more quickly? Can your targeting become even finer, your timing even more precise, your recovery even smoother?
During a given period of drilling come with one or more of these questions. Be observant. When you find your mind wandering bring your attention into the physical sensations of your body or your breathing. Don’t be hard on yourself but, like in meditation, simply acknowledge the distraction and guide yourself back to the sensations in the practice at hand.
This mental discipline is a practice of its own and takes time to develop. I recommend giving yourself repetition objectives, whether that is to work on a particular activity for the duration of a timer or to give yourself a certain number of reps to achieve before taking a break or changing drills. Placing a particular boundary to the activity can make it easier to achieve.
Don’t start with 1000 reps or 60 minutes of a particular drill. Try starting with 30 reps or 5 minutes. Build a consistent practice then seek to expand it.
Have a Program In Advance
Plan out when you’re going to train and what you’re going to do in advance. If you’re inspired now, open up your calendar and mark some times. Then note down in a calendar event or on a notepad what your training plan is going to be. Make it something achievable and then show up to do it.
Be Aware of Boredom
When you next find yourself being bored in class or in your own training, return to your curiosity about your own body, about the technique itself, or about its objectives.
One of the most consistent qualities I have noticed in the highest level practitioners in my life is how fascinated they are with basics. This fascination is not something they came with, it’s something that they developed over time and during that time that fascination has yielded significant rewards.
How do you bust your boredom and keep your focus? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!