To maximize your performance in karate, should you build your strengths, or improve your weaknesses?

The answer, of course, is both. But which one should you prioritize?

Let’s do the math.

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I’ll use sparring as an example. Let’s say your strength in sparring is your quickness. You’re super fast, faster than a peacock shrimp on speed. And let’s say your weakness is your defense. Basically your defense sucks. Like a jellyfish after smoking a blunt.

And let’s rate them both on a scale of 1 through 10. We’ll give your strength—your speed—an 8 out of 10. And we’ll give your shitty defense a 2 out of 10.

So altogether your performance is 8+2=10. Top performance would equal 10+10=20, so at 10 your overall performance is moderate.

With me so far? Awesome.

Now let’s say you just focus on building your strength. You spend the majority of your training time improving that speed. Because you’re already really good at that, you won’t make huge gains.

For this example, let’s say you keep working at your quickness, and you build it up from an 8 to a 9, and leave your weakness as is. The improvement in this case would change the performance equation to 9+2=11.

On the other hand, let’s say you decide to work on your weakness, and improve your shitty defense. You work really hard at it, and you bump yourself up from a 2 to a 6. Even though 6 is not ideal, it is still a big improvement. 8+6=14.

Now let’s say you work on both your strengths and weaknesses. When you do this you get 9+6=15.

By focusing on both, your overall performance goes from a 10 to a 15. That’s a HUGE increase.

But make note that the bulk of that increase—4 points—came just from building on your weaknesses.

You do want to work on BOTH strengths and weaknesses, but the gains you make by building your weaknesses will be far greater than the gains from building your strengths. You have far more room to improve on the things you suck at. So prioritize your training time accordingly.

And consider this: Strengths can hide your weaknesses.

Your strength gives you an edge, but ONLY if you compete against people who don’t have that same strength. As soon as you’re matched with someone who has the same strength as you, the playing field is levelled. THAT is when your weakness really starts to matter. And that’s when you lose that edge.

By prioritizing building up those weaknesses, while still building on your strengths, the greater the overall gains, and the more successful you will be on your martial arts journey.

Which aspects of your martial arts training have the most room for improvement? Can you set aside some time this week to work on building those skills?

Recommended Resources

Here are some great books to help you improve your habits, focus, and mental game:

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You’re reading Use Math to Help Improve Your Karate Performance by Sabrina Bliem, originally posted on The Karate Shrimp. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow The Karate Shrimp on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!