The Zen of Martial Arts

Not so much a blog today as a plagerism

Thanks to Mike Gustafson who postes this originally the full article is here.

A young boy traveled across Japan to the school of s martial artist. When he arrived at the dojo, he was given an audience by the Sensei.

“What do you wish from me?” the master asked.

“I wish to be your student and become the finest kareteka in the land,” the boy replied.

“How long must I study?”

“Ten years at least,” the master answered.

“Ten years is a long time,” said the boy. “What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?”

“Twenty years,” replied the master.

“Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?”

“Thirty years,” was the master’s reply.

“How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?” the boy asked.

“The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way.”

Sometimes, we get so fixated on goal times and far away swim championships that we forget to be in the present. This doesn’t just happen with age group swimmers. It can happen with collegiate and professional swimmers, too. And when we’re focusing on a far-away destination, what we’re really doing is not putting all our efforts and focus on the journey itself. When we have one eye looking down the road, we only have one eye focused on the practice at hand.

It’s great to have goal times. Goals are very much needed throughout the swimming journey. Goal times get you out of bed in the morning, they motivate you, they make you feel inspired, and they give you something to shoot for.

But when you obsess too much about goal times, they can be a negative motivator. They can feel like a burden, or an obstacle, or extra amounts of pressure – and this isn’t what you want. You don’t want to be scared by a goal. Because you’re not actually scared by the goal itself, but scared about what happens if you don’t reach that goal. You become scared of failure. 

Unfortunately, here’s the thing: Everyone fails. Everyone experiences failure. Everyone gets knocked down, doesn’t reach a goal, misses a championship final, or loses a race. Even Michael Phelps. What matters isn’t the failure, but how you react to it – both after and before the race itself. If you are scared about failing, you will never truly feel confident on the blocks.

You need to try to let go of that fear of failure. Everyone fails. What matters more is getting back up, focusing on the journey, and not on the destination.

When you place all your focus on the journey – having a great practice, nailing a start, a turn, or just trying your best in every practice to improve one small thing – you begin to focus less on the destination and more on the journey. You begin to accept that you will occasionally fail – and failure is OK. You will feel less scared about not reaching a goal time or not reaching Zones, because you know that swimming is a long road filled with failure. It will happen. What matters is that you not be scared by it, but instead, just do the best you can every moment.

Swimming can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re so young, and you have a lot of swimming ahead of you. Swimming is a life-long journey with little baby steps and accomplishments along the way.

Goals can bring extra pressure. It’s true that tons of pressure can make diamonds. But it also can suffocate the fun. I know many swimmers who burned out throughout the swimming journey because they were no longer having fun, because they were feeling lots of pressure to succeed. But what defines “success” anyway? Some people define success about placements and times, and others define success about having fun, enjoying the sport, and enjoying your time with the sport. I tend to view success as the latter.

If you’re feeling too much pressure, take a few steps, breathe, and try to focus on the journey. I will tell you the truth: It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t make Zones. Sure, it will be disappointing, but it shouldn’t ruin your love for the sport, and it shouldn’t make you feel as though everything you’ve done – all those 10,000 yard practices you do – are worthless. Peter Vanderkaay, when he was your age, didn’t even qualify for high school states. Imagine if he didn’t qualify for states and then thought of himself as a failure. Maybe he wouldn’t have become the Olympic swimmer he is today.

But he did become one. Swimming is a long, long journey, and while goal-setting can be good, if you’re experiencing so much pressure that you’re scared about the journey, press the reset button and focus both eyes on the journey itself. 

Remember the anecdote from above: When you focus on the destination, you aren’t using both eyes to see the way there.

Breathe. Smile. Keep working hard, and keep having fun, and you’ll get to where you need to go, wherever that may be

Hope you enjoyed that as much as i did



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