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Finding Your Way Back

A friend of mine recently told me he was thinking about resuming his training after taking some time off. He asked me if I had any advice. That was easy – “do it,” I said. After giving it further thought, I realized that this could apply to quite a few people. Life can get in the way; work, injuries, illness, family obligations, etc. I have had many students over the years that have been derailed for one reason or another. Many don’t find their way back. Some come back after years. I myself have been derailed over the course of my 52 years of training, in some cases for many months at a time.

Here are some thoughts. First, as I said to my friend, do it. Don’t spend a lot of time talking yourself in to it. That often results in talking yourself out of it. Dust off the uniform and get to a class – just do it.

Spend some time being clear about what you are looking for out of your training. What is the return on your investment of time, resources and energy you would like to produce? This can help remind you of how much the training has to offer; supportive community, friends, motivation, goals and challenges, lifetime skills, fitness, and fun. Of course, above and beyond this you will likely have your own personal quest or vision for your training. The importance and value of this personal aspiration will ultimately be what stays the course if you are bumped off course again. The more clear about it you are, the stronger your convictions.

Time away is always a good opportunity to practice returning with fresh eyes or “eyes of the beginner.” Approach everything as if you are brand new. This is helpful in a number of ways. For example, this will help you to avoid the classic mistake of thinking that you already know something. It has been said, “a person can not learn something they think they already know.” This will also relieve your ego of unrealistic expectations. If there is nothing for you to live up to it is unlikely that you will disappoint yourself, which could crash your return to the path.

Your most important goal at this stage is to establish a habit of consistency. Without this it is unlikely that your return will last for long.

Our art requires a significant degree of functional leg strength, which is just plain healthy in any case. Your legs are expected to carry you around for the rest of your days. If you are not already doing so, start a reasonable program of leg strengthening; nothing too crazy, just some strengthening and conditioning. You don’t want to have a great first day back and then feel like you need a week off to recover.

The bottom line is don’t put it off. A week turns into a month, which turns into two months, which turns into years, which turns into a lifetime; then your are left wondering what may have been. The path is challenging to be sure. But then what worthwhile isn’t. When you consider the endless barrage of things trying to seduce us into wasting precious time and resources the benefits of training make it a no-brainer. Grab your old uniform, or get a new one, and let’s train!

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