When we first start something difficult, it’s like we’re at the base of a giant mountain. With very little experience or understanding in how to navigate the steep inclines, we start plodding our way upwards.
The journey in the beginning is full of confusion, doubt, discomfort, and occasionally even embarrassment. But after a bit of time, we start to develop a rhythm to our movement and progress upwards with more ease.
Finally, it seems, we reach a plateau. We are able to plant our feet on solid ground, rest a bit, and enjoy the view from above.
Behind us, the mountain extends into the clouds. But we are comfortable and secure on this plateau. We can camp here for awhile, enjoy the sense of accomplishment, and rest.
This comfort is a trap, though. Our goal is to climb the mountain — setting up camp at the first plateau is a natural impulse, but won’t get you anywhere. Eventually we have to pack up and move onwards.
Training is a lot like that too. When we first start, we are at the base of a giant mountain. We’re not exactly sure how to best climb the mountain, but we pull ourselves upwards one ledge at a time and eventually make some decent progress.
Once we finally become comfortable with our routine, it’s easy to just sit back and coast through. But growth doesn’t happen in the comfort zone.
As we become better adapted to climb, we have to find more difficult routes. If we feel comfortable with the basic pad work in striking, for example, we have to consider adding some light contact or live drills to our training.
If we become comfortable with light contact, then adding some light sparring is the next step. And so on.
The fact is, you should always be a little uncomfortable in training. We should not seek comfort or security in our routine, but should find ways to increase the challenges upon ourselves so that we can continue to grow.
There will always be an urge to “camp out” on whatever plateau you’re on. To say “this is good enough” and hang out where you’re comfortable and fully in control. But just recognize that impulse for what it is, and make sure you don’t hang out there too long!