Sifu Greg Weir

Sifu Greg Weir

Junior Student’s Corner

It’s always exciting when the WKFA holds its annual Advanced Grading. It happened a few weeks ago and, as a result, we have two new Sifus: Serena and Benny. Watching them that day it struck me how different their Kung Fu journeys have been. Serena started training when she was five years old; Benny not until he was in his 30s. But one thing they had in common is that, at some point, both made it their goal to become a Black Sash.

You hear more and more these days about the importance of setting goals. Not just to wish for something, but to explicitly create a goal and a plan to achieve it. An article I read talked about the importance of goals being SMART, which means:

  • Specific: Not “I’d like to get better at Kung Fu,” but rather, “I will grade for my Green Belt in the Fall grading.”
  • Measurable: The goal above is measurable because you can objectively tell if you succeeded or not; i.e., did you grade in the Fall?
  • Actionable: When thinking about your goals (or writing them down) try to start with an action verb like “practice” or “complete” rather than a to-be verb. For example, “Practice Kung Fu for 30 minutes every day,” instead of, “Be a better martial artist.”
  • Realistic: You want your goals to challenge you, but don’t make them so difficult that they’re impossible to achieve. Instead of saying, “Be the WKFA Junior Student of the Year every year,” try something more reasonable, like, “Complete the Ferocious Fists by my birthday.”
  • Time-Bound: It helps if you associate a date or timeline with a goal. So not, “Learn the Advanced Sequence of Kicks,” but rather, “Learn the Advanced Sequence of Kicks by June 1.”

It’s a good idea to have a mixture of long-term and short-terms goals. Ideally your short-term ones contribute to the long-term efforts. For example, the long-term goal might be to earn a Black Sash, while a short-term goal is to become part of the Leadership Team. That said, too many goals at once can make it hard to focus, so try to limit yourself to five or six at a time.

There is evidence that writing down your goals makes you more likely to meet them. The act of putting goals into words solidifies your intent and sets the process in motion.

Also, tell people your goals. You don’t have to announce them to every person you know, but stating them to someone displays a level of commitment that should help keep you motivated. Furthermore, if your instructors know that you want to participate in the next grading, we’ll do everything we can to help.

Of course setting goals is not just for Kung Fu. You can use these same strategies to help you in school or any activities you do.

If the example provided by Serena and Benny taught us anything, it should be that it’s never too early or too late to set goals for yourself!