Learn, Practice, Apply

Happy February. How are your resolutions going? Are you spending time practicing or working on your karate? Did you promise yourself that you would do more karate practicing this year? Now is the time to take up our challenge to practice more.

Of course we do not mean the satirical reference we had when looking at our dojo’s Facebook page this week. We saw a posting “from” Bruce Lee asking if you had practiced enough. Of course the schematic followed the trail to encourage us to keep practicing. It is great to practice, and Sensei Mae and I believe you should be practicing. All of us know we should practice more than we do today.


Did Bruce Lee really say you should get back to practicing?

Here is my schematic for the cycle, not just constant practice as advertised by Bruce Lee, but learn, practice, apply, re-learn, practice, apply…


Not just practice. Learn, practice (take notes) and apply!


Before we practice, we should learn the move or activity and write it down in our notes. We recommend pen and paper. Take a look at Sensei Mae’s blog post about taking notes. A good journal helps keep things straight. I often find that in writing it down it shows the gaps in my understanding and knowledge. If I can write it down, I know that at home I can practice.


After we have been taught an activity or move, we should practice that activity or move. Helen Hays said, “The expert at anything was once a beginner.” To get the most out of practice, we should begin as slowly as the move allows and build up speed as we determine our technique is correct. Our head Sensei demonstrated a jumping move in black belt class last week. He jumped and come down pretty quickly. Here is the reference back to the notes; if you have a karate friend, asking them to watch you pays off for the both of you.


After you have learned and practiced the move or activity, you are ready to apply. In the application stage it may be running kata for your Sensei or using the move in a fight at class. Whichever the application after the execution, you will receive feedback. The move worked in the fight and your classmate was impressed, or the move did not work and you will need some refinement. I know in my journey I have learned several katas, and they are never perfect–they require refinement and re-learning.

Re-Learn, practice and apply again (and again…)

As we grow in our martial arts practice, we will follow the learn, practice, apply, re-learn…sequence on several techniques and activities. Part of the joy in karate and moving up in the ranks is working on perfecting a “simple” technique. We all learned a front kick as white belts. When I was practicing for my black belt test, I was still refining the front kick to ensure my foot and ankle placement was correct.

If you want to grow as a martial artist, the timeline of only practicing shown at the beginning is incorrect. Of course we must practice. Proper practice occurs after we receive proper coaching and receive feedback on how well we have learned and applied our martial arts. Keep practicing. If you would like feedback on your technique, drop us a line here at the blog or reach out to Sensei Mae on Twitter @letstalkkarate.

See you in class soon.



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