Clearly I have been watching way too much Batman lately, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind when the subject of mindfulness comes up. More to the point, scars are what I find myself getting when I am most definitely not being mindful during training. In fact, almost every serious cut, bruise, or injury that I have ever received during training has been the direct result of in some way not being completely mindful; sometimes from not taking a jump seriously, overestimating my abilities (usually when tired), or for some of the stupidest ones thinking I was “done” for the day then getting hurt on they way back home…
I think I might have a handle on this mindfulness business now though. Most of my scrapes lately may as well be considered self-inflicted, since I somehow think grappling in the dirt is a good idea. Anyway, to me there are a three big components to mindfulness:
Probably the most straightforward of the three. Multitasking doesn’t even work when you’re just sitting down and trying to get something done, so it most definitely ain’t gonna work if you’re performing a complex physical skill. Getting distracted by a squirrel showing off in front of you (it happens) or talking with friends while working on the technique is a good way to screw it up. All of this is especially true for any kind of balancing. Focus on the task and the situation relevant to it, which leads into the next part.
Awareness has three parts that I can think of:
Environmental: Is it wet? Lacks grip? What are the surfaces you are looking at like? Stable, uneven, will they hold your weight? Is there anyone that will get in your path during the movement?
Physical: Anything related to your current physical state. Tired or sore? Maybe an ankle is feeling a bit weird right now? Do you have the energy in you right now to complete the technique cleanly?
Mental: For me at least this one has way more of an impact on performance and safety then the rest. Did you get enough sleep? Are you feeling confident in your technique? Distracted by other thoughts? Worried by the environment or because you’re pretty tired? All of these influence both the ability to focus and the last part…
There is a huge, huge, difference between trying something with 70, or even 80% commitment vs 95-100%. There is no magical way to do this, especially because every person does it differently, but it’s important regardless. Now, there are some skills that don’t require 100% of your power or strength to perform of course, but they do need to be taken seriously. If an obstacle is regarded as simple, it’s easy to not pay full attention to it (ooh look, focus again) and only put in 50% of the effort you normally would. My knees really hate me for doing that. Good thing they can’t get a lawyer, otherwise I’d be in deep shit for all the unnecessary abuse they have been through. Okay, that was pretty bad, be thankful I didn’t slip a pun in there too…
For those that do require close to 100% of your effort, well, quite simply if that doesn’t happen the technique will fail. In the cases where you can technically make it with less, committing 100% will take a technique from passable to excellent. Two examples of my own (one old, one recent) that I can provide are the stairs broad jump and a huge lazy vault. Both of those didn’t happen until I could get myself to push to 100% effort.
Knowing all this probably won’t make you mindful at all times just yet, but I hope it takes you fewer scrapes and bruises to become consistently mindful during training (and out of it) than it did for me.
Have any interesting or instructive stories about injuries from not paying full attention? Talk about them in the comments, everyone loves a good scar story.
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