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Create self-chanage


Learning a martial art requires you to change the ways you have previously done some things, such as the way you breathe, the way you walk, the way you react to something flying toward your face, and the way you train. Sometimes the most difficult part of learning a martial art is affecting these changes within yourself. Instructors can guide you and tell you ways to affect self-change, but you are only one who can affect changes within yourself. The following are some proven methods for affecting self-change.

Modify, monitor, and make

Robert Epstein, a professor at United States International University in San Diego, California, and editor for Physiology Today, and his students reviewed decades of literature on self-change and surveyed centuries of self-change methods from religious leaders, philosophers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Many of these methods are similar and many have been subjected to scientific scrutiny where researchers looked for the ones that work best. Three methods stood out as powerful, simple, easy to learn techniques that work. Epstein calls them the Three M's: modify, monitor, and make.

Modify your environment

By making small modifications to your environment, you may affect tremendous changes in your behavior. The power of rearranging one's space has been well documented in studies since it was first reported in the 1960s.

Psychologist Richard Stuart, a director of Weight Watchers International in the 1960s, showed that women could lose weight by modifying their "stimulus environment," such as by eating from smaller plates and by confining all food to the kitchen. Modifications that may help you affect beneficial changes to you.

Ways to incorporate this into your martial arts training include:
  • Leaving notes around your house to remind you to practice your patterns,. 
  • Leaving your training equipment near your bed so you see it f.
  • Taping a picture to your bathroom mirror of someone performing a technique in the manner you want to be able to perform it so you see it every morning.
  • Parking further away from work each day so you have to walk more each day.

Monitor your behavior

If you monitor what you do, you will probably do better. If you weigh yourself regularly, you will probably start to lose weight. If you record what you eat, you will probably start eating more wisely. Although scientists do not fully understand why it works, the fact is, it works. Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated the technique is effective in affecting self-change.

Ways to incorporate this into your martial arts training include:
  • Keeping a daily record of each martial arts class you attend. 
  • Grading and recording your performance in class. 
  • Making a checklist of the critical points you must remember while performing your pattern and mentally complete the checklist each time you perform the pattern.

Make commitments

When you commit to another person, you establish a "contingency of reinforcement." With the commitment, you have automatically arranged for a reward if you comply and a punishment if you do not. The commitment keeps the pressure on you to comply.

Ways to incorporate this into your martial arts training include:
  • Telling a classmate you will see him or her in class the next day. Now there is pressure for you (and him or her) to show up. 
  • Making a written commitment to attend class three times a week no matter what. 
  • Having your housemate pay you each time you go to class, and then use the money to dine out together. 


You can affect self-change through simple techniques that do not require willpower. You can affect change through skill, not will.


  • Epstein, R. (1998). Change your bad habits to good. Treatment Today (Summer 1988).
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