I had a student about 4 years ago who complained to me that people were advancing ahead of him and that I wasn't teaching him any new skills.

To some degree this was actually true; he had reached a bit of a plateau in my opinion (as we all sometimes do) and I felt his heart wasn’t totally in it. I could see him getting frustrated with others and a little angry at me. He saw his situation as my fault, something I was 'doing' to him. After a few months, he eventually quit at brown belt (intermediate) level.

I’m sorry that he left, but I saw two main problems which were stopping him advancing.

Firstly, he blamed his age for not being able to do skills. Of course age is a factor, but attitude beats age every time. Actually, it was less that he was old, and more that others were younger than him that was his issue. We do ourselves incredible harm when we make comparisons with other students who we think are younger, better or more talented than us. All this does is hurt our self confidence because others are placed on some unachievable pedestal. I don’t need to be the best. But I want (not need) to be the best that I can be. Instead of making comparisons with others we should look at ourselves, and our own progression.

Secondly, and most importantly, despite my nagging he never practised what he was bad at, those things that didn’t come as easy to him. Practising what we excel at is obviously enjoyable, but it doesn't necessarily mean we'll improve overall. Through the years, my struggle with my own Hapkido practice has taught me great determination, patience and perseverance. Struggling to fall properly, perform a spin kick, do anything that involved jumping, developing confidence when sparring, building a school and being a confident instructor, have all had their challenges for me. When we overcome what we find difficult then we not only improve physically but we also bolster our self-esteem. Sometimes it can feel like you are not making any progress, but then all of a sudden those neural pathways light up and everything ‘clicks’.

What have been your struggles? or what/how have you overcome?

Practising what we’re bad at.
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