Taking Time Off

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The tree has been packed away, the cards removed, the tinsel hanging from every doorway no longer catching in my hair. All the rich foodstuffs, cheeses, chocolates and meats have been consumed - well almost - and I am now blowing the dust off my neatly folded Gi. Let's see if I remember any Kata!?!?!

You could say it’s been a while, almost 3 weeks in fact. Where have I been? Taking time off of course.

“But Ben, you’re a Martial Artists, with a serious intention of improving every day, how can you even DREAM of taking time off?”

Simple: sometimes the best action is non-action.

“So, you did nothing at all?”

Not exactly, I still ate, played, had conversations, went for walks, swam in the sea, went for a drive, read a book, enjoyed a film; but I didn’t force myself to practice Karate, or to keep training, or to maintain some strict dieting rule.

“Won't that set your training back some?”

Not exactly, and I will explain why.

In my time practicing Karate, and in my work life, I have met many people, including myself, who never took a day off. They never missed an event and despite the body/mind/spouse telling them to do so they carried on regardless.

Even when I was ill, or physically damaged, I carried on. Albeit with a slight change of pace. It wasn’t until a year ago that I realised that taking some time away, from work and Karate, was actually beneficial.

“Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state” Said Gichin Funakoshi

How you practice depends on how you interpret this. If you want to take it absolutely literal, then you will consider any slow down a no-no.

However, if you understand that Karate is a lifelong practice, and a daily practice that doesn’t have to include sweating, or even moving, you will grasp a greater meaning from this quote.

Karate isn’t simply in the Dojo – it is a way of life – and it comes in many forms. Sure, there is an aspect that includes kicking, punching and “Kiai-ing” your way around the Dojo, but there is also the meditation, the mindfulness, the compassion towards the self and others that can, and should, be practiced every day.

So, technically, I didn’t stop practicing Karate, I exercised the other facets that I have learned along the way. I rested and allowed the body to recover. I gave it plenty of nutrition, whilst being mindful of what and how I ate. I took walks, meditated, swam and ran to give myself a slight change of pace to the usual practice.

I read and had conversations with friends and family which can contain such positive effects that far outweigh the physical benefits of training.

Most importantly, I don’t feel any guilt for giving myself that time and space to recharge, refocus, and to feel energised to get back on the Dojo floor and get sweating again.

I am also super pumped about the big plans I have for this year: A European Kobudo Seminar tour in June, several trips to exotic and new places, shooting some YouTube video content and putting out my helpful guides and eBooks to help others to achieve their New Years fitness and health goals.

Did you take time off this holiday season? Do you feel guilty, or, were you glad for the time away?

It may be hard to get the body moving again when you return to the Dojo, but after the second day, your time off will be but a small blip in your lifelong practice.