Four Ways to Get Back to Enjoyment and Out of Criticality

Practicing does not always mean “working on”. It’s important to give yourself time with passions and skills in your life to just simply indulge in the activity. It’s vital to give yourself time simply to feed your enjoyment. This helps you remember why you do this thing in the first place, and can give you energy for further training later—if that’s your desire.

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If you’ve been working hard in your training it can be difficult to switch gears from training brain (a necessarily critical space) to enjoyment brain. Here are a few tips:

Focus on Feeling instead of Outcome

You need to switch your judgemental brain off. Tell your training partner what your goal is so they can join you in it. Tell them you’re not worrying about winning or surviving or “doing it right” and that you want to simply indulge in your body and its movement. Often all that’s needed is to give yourself permission to “let go”.

Play Games

Play a sparring game like exchanging blows, mortal/immortal, or back against the wall. Giving yourself a particular objective that allows you to get away from the rigours of whole art training can be fun and change things up.

Do Slow Fencing

I’m a big advocate of slow fencing for training purposes, but it can also be a way to step away from your combat brain and simply step into the art instead of the competition.

Do Something Completely Different

If I feel really stuck in criticality I sometimes switch to something completely outside of my known realm. I completely change postures, or work on a different weapon discipline. This can allow me to let go of expectations (I have no skill in the new area) and enjoy the process of new learning all over again.
This idea of switching mindsets is not limited to the sparring environment. Change your objectives in class. It’s completely wonderful to let go in class of getting better and instead simply enjoy your body, the camaraderie of your peers, and the beautiful art we all share in.
How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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