Benchmark and Performance Goals


A recent interaction with one of my newer clients left me wondering about whether they set impossibly high standards for themselves, knowing that it could be easier to claim failure to achieve their goal(s) as it was so difficult to attain or if they even set them at all. It really is a very personal and I believe, a vital step to maximise and allowing you to enjoy the learning process. While you can simply learn and play for the sake of learning and playing, you will enjoy the “game” more if you had an objective for getting involved in one of the most demanding and frustrating activities.

I currently hold black belts in Shotokan and Kissaki-kai Karate but learning and achieving the black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been one of the most difficult personal achievements to date and I realise there is still so much more to learn. Naturally there are ups and downs in all learning but it is in the moments of failures and disappointments are where my lightbulb moments were possible and “learning” was done. After all, there is no point in switching on another light in an already bright room. So we learn from our failures. We must learn and adapt and improvise. In surpassing those failures and reaching a solution is where we can find fulfilment and growth.
I use the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting format and thought I would share this useful personal performance tool again.S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. There are a lot of articles already written on this tool so I shall leave you to find out which explanation works best for you. I find that this helps to reduce the temptation to set impossibly high or unachievable and probably unrealistic goals of which I was guilty once upon a time. Learning how to avoid falling into this trap allows you to enjoy and progress in the learning of your chosen art. I strongly recommend all clients use this for for their fitness and martial arts goal setting.

One of my interests, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; I realised early on that it is more a “marathon style” of learning as there are so many variables that are beyond your control and it is all too easy to feel frustrated with a lack of perceived progression. It takes a while for your body to develop to the physical rigors, memorizing a seemingly unending spectrum of techniques and developing the ability to recognise the circumstances that a matching technique can be performed, and at the beginning you will feel so excited about the recognising the opportunity to do the technique and at that moment you mind goes blank. How frustrating!

A strange but effective tool I have discovered that worked for me was to be relaxed or have a minor mnemonic or physical distraction like chewing gum or humming a tune in your head. My coach Rodney recommends listening to your exhale phase of your breathing pattern and focus on that. It almost felt as if I was eavesdropping on a conversation which made me listen a little harder and pay a little more attention to the details. I would practice the technique and follow the details as presented then after a while, I would tweak the movements to better suit my physical abilities. Remembering the steps always proved to be the most challenging aspect. I keep a written training notebook and have done so since 2003. It helps to jog the memory but not always depending on whether I can decipher my notations and scribbles. These auxiliary tool are part of my method to remember techniques. Of course, some of you already share and circulate video snippets of the classes so that will also be useful to learning.

I think it will not be possible to avoid failures and disappointments when working on any given technique, however; I believe that if you are failing in the right direction, you will eventually get to your destination!