Hanshi Maxim: Perfect Makes Perfect

We've all heard, "practice makes perfect" so, why does Hanshi say, over-and-over again, in the dojo, "perfect makes perfect"? Where does this maxim come from and why should we care so much about it? To begin with, the following quotes come to mind: "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect" by Vince Lombardi an NFL legendary coach. “You can shoot eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, all you become is good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” by Michael Jordan an NBA legend. In addition, we cannot delve into this topic without reference to: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times" by Bruce Lee a martial arts legend


For the purpose of this post, however, Bruce Lee's quote could be rewritten as, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, nor the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times--correctly". Although Bruce Lee did not say this, I'm sure it was implied.


When in the dojo, accept any request by an instructor for change in your technique as a gift, not a criticism. It's all about mindset. You can be grateful, or hurt and angry. If you are embarrassed, hurt, or, angry when critiqued, then you have much to learn on a personal level. Endeavor to be grateful.


Once you have been shown the correct way to execute a technique, or defend against an advance, strive to embrace it, incorporate it, and remember it, for it will take you far if your goal is to advance not only in rank, but also as a martial artist in general, and a person of humility.


"Perfect makes perfect" does not mean that mistakes won't happen because, a student will make many mistakes throughout their journey--both new students and practiced students. Mistakes are opportunities, if your mind is open to view them as such. Mistakes allow us to see why a good technique is important. If we mull over the mistake, after class, we are often able to determine how the mistake came about; was it an error in technique, in movement, or was our mind focused on something else, or somewhere else? Taking time to reflect can help us improve and keep us from creating bad habits.


Another important consideration when it comes to, "perfect makes perfect" is that with correct technique comes maximum speed and power. Having your foot positioned in just the right manner can maximize the number of muscles engaged in a kick; a punch, correctly executed, is not only faster and stronger, it is less likely to be seen coming by an opponent. Another advantage is in consideration to knees, shoulders and other parts of the body. Executing a poor punch can create a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on a shoulder and elbow over time. If a joint is starting to hurt, check your stance or other technique to ensure the pain isn't stemming from improper positioning or execution. It could be that simple.


There are many reasons to make sure that when you practice your technique you are doing it correctly so, when you hear, "perfect makes perfect", take inventory and make corrections where needed; if you aren't sure of something, ask an instructor. In addition, always remember, practicing outside of class still requires "perfect makes perfect" training.

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