Benchmark Effect: Martial Arts Training Involution #169

I’m still feeling a little puny after my kidney stone event on Monday.  So this week I’m going repost the T.I. from exactly one year ago today and remind you that…

“The way to get things done is to stimulate competition.  I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.”¹

What’s measured improves.

The way to get more out of yourself is to self-compete.  I call this “benchmark effect.”

  1. Train.
  2. Record performance.
  3. Evaluate progress.
  4. Adjust training regimen.
  5. Repeat.

I’m not going write 500 more words on this because there’s no point.  You’re either going to do it or you aren’t.  Which is it?


  1. Work your body.  Set timer for 8:00.  Complete as many strikes as you can vs. your heavy bag before the timer beeps.  If you don’t have a heavy bag,  make one; if you don’t have anywhere to hang it indoors, throw a rope over a tree limb or lash it to a tree or post.  When done, shoulder your bag and see how far you can carry it, switching shoulders as needed.
  2. Work your mind. Write down your strike count and the distance carried.  Are you writing down measurable metrics for all training sessions — such as rep counts, time elapsed, distance, etc. — and trying to improve?  If not, you aren’t training, you’re mucking around.  “That which is measured improves.”
  3. Work your spirit.  Set a timer for 10 mins and assume your posture of choice.  Regulate breathing to a slow, steady rhythm and allow your mind to approach stillness.  Don’t think, and don’t think about not thinking.  Just sit.  Most people call this meditation, but technically it’s contemplation.  Doesn’t matter what you call it.  Just do it and thank me later.

¹ Charles M. Schwab, as quoted in How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  If you haven’t Carnegie’s world-famous book you don’t know what you’re missing.  I re-read it every few years to reinforce my connection to its very simple concepts.  There’s a reason why the book has sold 16 million copies.

DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!

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