…when playing sports, working out or doing anything else you want to succeed in.
Living in Japan has taught me many things and I am still thankful for this day that I was able to spend several years of my life in this beautiful country. My primary reason to move to Japan was my wish to be a successful Judoka (i.e. Judo fighter). I had trained this Sport in Germany since I was 6 years old, but when I moved to Japan, I had to change my complete attitude towards Judo practice and working out in general.
The translation for Judo is ‘The Gentle Way’. I am not 100% sure about the ‘gentle’, but I am 200% sure about the ‘way’ because in my experience it was all about the process.
The Japanese use the word ‘way’ in conjunction with many traditional arts. It’s hard to translate because it describes not only the process or the way of doing things but also an attitude and a way of life. For example ‘bushido’ translate as ‘the way of the warrior’ and it includes all aspects of the samurai way of life including its ideals, its principals, values, etc. Or Zendo — the way of zen — that describes the complete zen philosophy.
That’s why practicing Judo in Japan, was not only training for a specific sport. It included being part of a community, meditating before every lesson, and taking care of our Dojo, i.e. we were responsible for cleaning the mats, the floor, and any other equipment.
When training in Germany, I focused mostly on my next competition. However, my Japanese Judo Sensei was more concerned about the training itself. He did not give us a chance to think about the next competition because we had to concentrate all our efforts on the form of his drills.
We were not allowed to talk or joke or anything during the time when he was working with us. Students that were not 150% focused on the training were send home. It was all about the ‘now’, not about the ‘future’. Of course, we also trained to win competitions but more importantly, we trained to train.
Today, I try to use the idea of focusing on the presence and the process whenever I work out on my own, or when I work with my clients. I don’t want them to do a workout, I want them to experience it. I asked them how they feel while doing the exercises. Or if it feels good when they start to sweat or when their heart rate gets up.
I also believe that we miss half the fun if we only workout to reach a certain result. Fun? Really? Yes: I believe you can enjoy your workout or — better yet — you should. If you hate what you are doing, you can never be successful at it. Having fun while you are doing it will keep you going. Hating it will make you stop.
Of course, you don’t have to apply these concepts only for working out. Being present and aware of the bigger picture can help you be more successful in whatever you do.