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An Internal Battle: The Mysterious Nature of Progress as a Martial Artist

Sometimes I make tangible progress in my martial arts practice—striking/stepping technique, force generation, endurance.

But occasionally, what constitutes progress is far more difficult to lay a finger on. Tonight was one of those nights. While I was challenged physically, the real growth was psychic.

I came to the edge of total frustration, and found that I was okay with it for once. That’s a big shift for me—there’s something about being frustrated that regularly undermines my sense of competence.

Today, I was able to engage my frustration as a natural part of the learning process. And to leave it behind when class ended.

I can trust that over the next few days of rest and personal practice, integration will happen. Practicing on my own helps that process along. But nothing helps more than simply letting the process of learning be what it will be: sometimes hard, sometimes joyful. But always challenging, always rewarding.

This article is part of my “Martial Arts Journal” series on self-defense, mindset, and practical philosophy in the martial arts and in life. If you liked it, you can read more of my journal entries here.