We sometimes have a fixed mindset versus a flexible mindset. What this means at the dojo is:
- We are open to beginning every new task as a white belt devoid of knowledge (a flexible mindset) or
- We are caught in our thoughts that talent is the only deciding factor and we have a limit on what we can learn (fixed mindset).
Karate is a journey leading toward a destination of mastery of a technique or a belt or even a rank after obtaining black belt. The question today is “Are you getting the correct encouragement for your karate flexible mindset?” I know that I receive the proper encouragement from my sensei on continued growth in the art of karate. I hope to always provide the proper encouragement to others as well.
When I first began class as a white belt, our sensei taught us to kick as high as our face. My teenage kids were not as impressed with themselves as I was being over the age of 50! We warmed up, stretched and learned the four basic moves in a kick. Then, with great coaching, by the end of class we were able to kick face high with a front kick. Wow! Have you experienced a great coach or sensei? If so, you know these basic encouragement principles. I am writing them down so I remember to use them the next time I have to teach a class.
In the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, she makes the point that happiness (a positive mental outlook on our part as the student) is a possible cause for success and not just a result of achieving a goal. Of course, reaching a destination does make us happy. For a foundation as a student, we should look to have a positive mental outlook when we begin our day at the dojo. When we enter the dojo all of our cares and worries are left outside of the door like our shoes. We could first put on a smile and relax and enjoy the time learning karate.
Here are some ways we can promote the flexible mindset taken from the book Grit (page 182)
- “You’re a learner! I love that.” The emphasis is on the skill of learning new ideas and getting the student to look for future flexible mindset opportunities to show off that he is a learner.
- “Great job! What’s one thing that could have been even better?” The emphasis is on continual improvement and increased flexibility. In art we always have room for improvement. Karate is a martial art, and our next punch or kick may not be as good as the prior one if we do not look for the improvements.
- “I have high standards. I’m holding you to them because I know we can reach them together.”
The focus is not on the missed technique but on improving weaknesses in the student. I have heard this many times on the dojo floor.
- We can learn to kick face high, and I am holding every white belt student to that high standard for their front kick.
- Because of positive coaching, we did reach that goal and many others.
- I had never, up to that point, thought of myself as a kicker. I do now, thanks to the coaching from our sensei in white belt class.
Our recommendation is to have the flexible mindset.
- I know that in learning that next kata I am always a beginner and will have some difficulty with the new sequence.
- Keeping at karate, we have a bigger reference library of kicks and punches. So, some parts of a new kata will be easy and some will be difficult. This is especially true when a move is completely new.
- In a fight, if we are fixed on how we fight we will generally lose the round or match as fighting requires a flexible mindset.
Our challenge to you is to enter the dojo floor with a flexible mindset. Also, find someone this week and give them encouragement to keep going by using some of the phrases above. Try to maintain that flexible mindset with yourself and with others.
See you in the dojo soon!