Musings: Continuous improvement through a positive self-image

Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning ‘continuous improvement‘. This should be the goal of all karateka. However, what prevents many of us from achieving kaizen is a lack of a positive self-image.

Karate by Jesse has a great post on controlling one’s self-image. In the post Jesse states:

“To change your performance, you must change your self-image.”

Jesse Enkamp

How does changing your self-image improve your performance? Much research has been done in the area of Sports Psychology, to answer this question. Some of the answers provided include:

  • Visualising a positive outcome
    How you think, can have an effect on how you feel and act. What you think can dictate your behaviour. In Karate mentally rehearsing your techniques and visualising how they should be done can have a dramatic effect when you physically come to do the actual techniques. Seeing yourself performing your techniques in the correct form can have a significant affect on your self-image, and confidence when you have to actually perform the techniques. I have found this to be very useful when learning a new kata or preparing for a tournament.
  • Removing negative thoughts and influences
    When visualising a positive outcome it is important to eliminate any negativity from your thoughts. Generally, if you think you can do something, you eventually will. And if belief you can not then you will not. Just like mentally rehearsing techniques, this technique can lead to positive outcomes. Constantly listening to negative thoughts and influences can re-enforce bad habits.
  • Attitude is everything
    Having the correct mental attitude is the key to kaizen, and a positive self-image. You must have the mindset that you are willing to learn and improve yourself. In Karate, you must be willing to consistently work on your weaknesses until they eventually become strong points. There may be setbacks, but this should not stop you from pushing yourself to improve.
  • Believe in yourself
    This follows on from the previous point. You need to believe that you can improve. Confidence comes from knowing that you have prepared mentally as well as physically. Constant visualisation can help to build this confidence. Of course you need to be realistic. Sometimes improvement can be slow. However, if you believe you have the ability to improve, then you will.
  • The 4 Ds
    Desire, dedication, determination, and discipline are the key factors necessary for helping you realise your visualisation. You must really want to improve and be willing to work hard to achieve your goal.

Incorporating even one of the points listed above, on a daily basis, can lead to an improvement in self-image and hence in your performance.

Remember, what your mind can conceive and your heart believe, you can achieve

Gary Mack

Author: Patrick Donkor

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