Whether it’s a regular Taekwondo training session or a grading, you will sometimes find yourself distracted.
You might be worried about something at home or work, be anxious about your performance or simply find an outside distraction, such as the watching crowd, interfering with your concentration. Focus is important in Taekwondo.
But how do you bring your attention back to the things that matter at the right moment?
Centring is a process that has been around for centuries and has long been used in martial arts. It’s also vital to improving performance in Taekwondo.
What is Centring?
In simple terms, centring involves directing your attention to a central part of the body, normally the abdomen. At the same time, you keep your breathing deep and rhythmic.
Its purpose is to refocus your attention and block out any distractions before you begin to complete an important task.
The Benefits of Centring
Martial arts such as Taekwondo have used centring since ancient times and it’s still widely used in sports today. When you see a top athlete like Usain Bolt preparing to run, they will often be centring, blocking out the crowd, blocking out doubts and simply focusing on that central part of the body and their breath.
It’s about grounding yourself in the moment. The mind is quiet and you can bring your focus to the task at hand. It leads to better performance because we are not weighed down with all the other things in our lives and distracting thoughts.
How Centring is Used in Martial Arts
Getting the most out of your practise or performing at a higher level when you are grading for the next belt level is not just about skill. It’s also about your mental strength. Even when you are simply practising, bringing the techniques of centring to your activity can have significant benefits.
It helps you to learn quickly and perform better. There is simply nothing competing with your emotional and physical time. Like meditation, centring is a skill that can be learned but it does take effort on the part of the individual.
We’re not talking about trying to focus for one or two minutes here. We’re talking about using centring as a focus for your Taekwondo practise so that it becomes a natural part of you. Once you have achieved mastery, you will be able to centre within a few seconds and be ready for what lies ahead.
Mastering Centring for Taekwondo
The difficulty in learning to centre is that it is very subjective and personal to you. No one can tell you if you have reached that perfect centred state. You may think that you are focused but there could still be distractions pulling you in different directions.
You will probably find that it takes quite a while (20 to 30 minutes) to centre yourself when you first start to try. You may not even be able to maintain it for very long before another distraction disrupts your meditation. With practice, however, this time should reduce so that you can centre almost immediately when you start to train or begin a grading.
- First, start by focusing on your breathing. You can find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and simply breath in and out normally, perhaps with your hands on your lower rib cage.
- Once you have mastered this, you can move your attention to your centre. This is a spot just below the navel.
- The next step is to imagine your energy and focus being drawn into this spot as you continue to breathe deep and rhythmically.
It sounds simple on the surface, but centring is a practise that takes time to learn. Once you have it mastered, you can begin to incorporate it into your Taekwondo practise – you’ll be amazed what a difference it will make.
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