Honest Self-Evaluation

This is one of the points during your martial arts training where you need to take an honest snapshot of your skills, abilities, knowledge, tendencies, and reflex behaviors. By spending a little time evaluating yourself you can spot areas where improvements might be beneficial. When you discover something that could be improved you can then devise, perhaps with the help of your instructor, training strategies for make any necessary changes. Here is a simple list of things you might consider. It is not intended to be a fully inclusive list, but it should allow you to identify areas where you might further refine your abilities.

You should note that the list deals more with negatives than with positives. If you are good at kicking, then you will probably not want to spend a tremendous amount of time improving or practice that skill (at least relative to other areas where more substantial progress can be achieved).

  • Do you try to overcome resistance with muscular power?
  • Do you consistently kick slowly, without crisp returns, or at a low elevation?
  • Do you bend forward when attempting a throw or when pushing someone?
  • Do you look down when blocking or striking at the Gedan level?
  • Do your strikes or blocks frequently move outside of your center triangle?
  • Do you find that you usually step rather than simply rotating a foot when applicable?
  • Do you often find that your center is not focused appropriately for the task at hand?
  • Do you easily lose your structure or balance when in close contact with training partners?
  • Do your strikes, blocks, and kicks have a definitive start and end rather than being part of a flow?
  • Can you easily transition from one stance to any other stance at any time?
  • Do you focus your eyes too intently on a specific movement, hand, leg, or face when working with a training partner?
  • Do you have a tendency to bounce or move unnecessarily when sparring or when in close contact with a training partner?
  • Do you breathe excessively or insufficiently when practicing, sparring, or working with others?
  • Can you reasonably expect to be able to improve your overall physical conditioning?
  • Can you improve your overall stretch, balance, and dexterity?
  • Do you become emotionally irritated, angered, or overtly frustrated when working with other practitioners?
  • Do you frequently hear complaints about your interactions with others with whom you are practicing?
  • Do you have a known knowledge or skill deficiency you have been ignoring for a long time?
  • Do you practice at home or in the Dojo with great regularity?
  • Do you spend time studying manuals, books, videos, or other martial arts content that may help you grow as a martial artist?
  • Do you ever ask your instructor if there are specific areas where you might seek improvement?
  • Is there a specific skill you feel you have never fully mastered?
  • Do you favor one aspect of the ETD model over another?
  • Do you train as frequently as others at your current or similar belt level?
  • Do you have a favorite pattern of movement, hand strike, kick, or other behavior that has become habitual or nearly instinctive?
  • Are there one or more training partners who always seem to get the better of you?
  • Do you practice proper respect and etiquette toward both senior and junior practitioners?
  • When you spar or practice with others do you seem to develop more body heat than your training partners?
  • Are you always safety conscious, doing whatever is necessary to prevent yourself or others from being injured?
  • Do you fully appreciate and accept that it is always best to avoid conflict and unnecessary injury whenever possible?
  • Do you have a good appreciation for both Ma Ai and Hyoshi?
  • Do you think you would be inclined to overreact to an opponent and be more belligerent or violent than necessary?
  • Do you normally move without having to lift either foot?
  • Are you able to envision new and different Bunkai and timing for most actions demonstrated in the various Kata you know?
  • Do you always have your guard up?
  • Do you feel completely comfortable, proficient, and capable when wielding the weapons you have studied to date?
  • What is the one area of you training that you wish you could improve dramatically?

As mentioned earlier this is only a small list of the possible areas where anyone could use some added training, thought, and effort. You may also know of other areas where you could use a little improvement. Take some time now to work on these items so that you improve those skills and abilities you know could stand some additional work. Much of what you will do in this belt curriculum involves substantial improvement to fundamental skills. That is a major focus of the training in this belt. Begin work now on any skills you’ve identified as in need of improvement so that you will have more time to make these needed adjustments.


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