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Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture
Anxiety effects on Kata performance - Naihanchi

Hi all,

It was a while I joined in  conversation due to busy family life, last week I thought i will record some kata at the dojo.

That night was sleepless due to baby not well, day was not great either -toddler become a terrorist and did not cooperate at all, our baby girl was not well and grumpy all day. i was tired and frustrated, also my anxiety kicked in (which you can see on the clip, nervously looking around).

 

My perfect Naihanchi never happened, more I tried more mistakes I made. My performance dropped about 60% (personal opinion) best what I could do is to stop and let it go, with the plan to do better next time.

What coping strategies you guys and girls have in this type situations?

Kind regards

Les

Tau
Tau's picture

This will sound like a cop-out and perhaps not befitting the serious martial artist. But... give up for the day.

In anything we do we'll have good days and bad days. On a bad day it can be almost impossible to salvage the technique or activity. It's a bit like being drunk; you more you try to act sober the more drunk you appear. And so it is with trying for best technique or best performance.

So give up for the day. Accept it's a bad day and tomorrow will be a good day. And so will the day after that. And the day after that.

Anf
Anf's picture

As someone who isn't black belt or Dan standard, how about this perspective.

A bad day could prove useful and perhaps should be embraced as an opportunity to be reminded how it feels to be a student, coming up through the ranks, that is struggling to grasp some of the finer details.

Or another opportunity to embrace the 'bad day' might be to seek ways that a technique or flow could be made useful for those times when you are not functioning at your best. One of the notions I see/hear constantly in the martial arts that I simply can't accept, is that everything has to be perfect if it's going to work. By that logic karate becomes useless the instant your opponent hurts your foot or leg, or when you become old or when you're full of cold. Perhaps the 'bad day' is an opportunity to reflect on the possibility that the legendary attack on the street might come on a day when you're not warmed up, uninjured, bursting with energy and in loose fitting attire.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Sleepless nights and an unruly toddler? Affecting performance, you say? That sounds like something I can relate to :-)

A model I find useful is:

Performance = Technique + Fitness + Mindset

The quality of technique tends to be pretty resilient. Once we have a technique “locked in” it does not disappear easily or quickly. I think we all know of students and training partners who had a long time away from training and when they returned their technique was still pretty good. Sure, it may not be as polished, but all the rudiment components are still solidly there despite years away.

Fitness tends to diminish more quickly, but it can still take a while. It’s not like you take a few weeks off and are suddenly back to square one. However, there are some obvious exceptions where fitness can abandon us quickly i.e. illness, injury, lack of sleep, etc.

When it comes to mindset, we can lose that in an instant. We can get is back in an instant too, but it’s far more fleeting and difficult to control that the other two elements of performance. It seems to me that it is likely that the following two are at work if you feel you are not performing as you’d like at the moment:

Fitness: You are sure to be exhausted at the moment. The quality of the kata is still within you just as before, but your exhausted body won’t be in a state to deliver it.

Mindset: The stress of it all at the moment will likewise mean you are less able to enact the kata within. The technique has not gone anywhere, but the mind can’t bet “in the moment” as easily.

The positive is that both of these things are temporary and “normal service will be resumed” in due course. The kata remains intact and it could be that you’re being too harsh on yourself by expecting a tired body and stressed mind not to have any effect performance.

There’s not a lot you can do about the sleep until the baby gets over that phase. The advice I would give would be to accept that nothing is “wrong” and that sub-optimal performance is inevitable at the moment. Rather that set yourself up for a fall, you can accept that any training is better than no training and that “good in the circumstances” is a solid result. A phrase I really like is, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.

It’s a similar thing with regards to the mindset, but there is the additional trap of the self-fulfilling prophesy. If you get too down on yourself for sub-par performance, then that can further erode the mindset. It may even have an effect when baby is a little older and these initial causes have resolved themselves. It could be better to set more realistic expectations and simply enjoy training. Better to walk through a few kata and enjoy it, than to push too hard and then lament the fact your tired body and stressed brain can’t deliver?

I’m in a similar situation to yourself at the moment. I trained this morning, and it was not great. I did less than I normally would and at a slower pace too. In the circumstances, my performance was OK and the gentle sweat helped burn off some of the stress and gave me some more energy. I’m not able train more intensely, but some training is almost always better than no training. It’s also nice to have a 100% valid “excuse” to take it easy for a few weeks :-)

I consider myself in “maintenance mode” at the moment. I just want to keep myself ticking over and enjoying training. I’m not in a state to make any gains or give strong performances. My family needs me more than normal and that means there’s less left for training … and that’s just as it should be. If my “inner critic” tires to tell me I should be an inexhaustible supply of energy and I should be as sharp as ever, he’s getting told to “####’ off!” :-) I want my training to be a relief from the stresses of life and something that helps me cope with it all, not something at adds to stress or anxiety.

In short, maybe take the foot off the gas, forget about your race time, and enjoy the scenery for a few laps.

All the best,

Iain

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Thank you all for reply and advice. 

I agree with you all and mostly that is my aproach, that day I just accepted that it wont work and left it at that. We had great session doing other stuff. 

I'm aware that this will pass as my children grow, but still sometimes in that given moent things can be bit overwhelming, it is great to have the possibility to get support from this group, thak you.

Kind regards 

Les

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Les Bubka wrote:
I'm aware that this will pass as my children grow, but still sometimes in that given moment things can be bit overwhelming …

I can totally relate. Our karate is very important to us. It can also be a huge part of our self-identity. When it’s not going as we would like, it can be a big deal. I was terrible for that when younger. A good session would see me feel on top of the world; whereas a bad one would knock me for six. These days I am a little better at keeping a dispassionate even keel, but it can still crop up every now and then. I think I’ve added in another layer to my thinking such that I feel pleased with myself as a result not not feeling bad about the bad session, if that makes sense? On the days were to “jutsu” did not go to plan, maybe we can focus on the “do” of not attaching to the resulting feelings too much and get a worthwhile session that way?

All the best,

Iain

Anf
Anf's picture
Les Bubka wrote:

I'm aware that this will pass as my children grow

I've been a dad for 10 years now. I am no closer to mastering it than I was when my first born first entered the world. The rules seem to keep changing, and it seems there's always something to be slightly anxious about.

I believe this is normal though. I'd love to impart some great wisdom on the subject but all I can offer is that I think every dad, indeed every parent or carer probably feels similar anxieties, yet somehow we generally manage fine overall. The fact that you feel such worries clearly shows that you are almost certainly doing a good job.