One Small Thing A Day

One of the toughest things to remember when we are training to defend ourselves or our loved ones is that it is not a sprint, but a marathon.

It seems otherwise, because we want to get to that level of functionality where we can accomplish the above goals as fast as humanly possible. But realistically, while we need to get to work as soon as possible and do as much as we can, we can’t do it all because we only have so many hours in the day, and some skills and improvements only come over time. As an example, getting strong enough to not get bulled around by an attacker cannot come overnight. To build that level of strength, especially if we start at a place of being fairly weak requires effort over time, even if you are foolish enough to try to take some kind of personal enhancement drug like anabolic steroids.

So, we need to realize that we are in it for the long haul. Once we accept that, we can use different strategies to get better such as concentrating on important skills in blocks of time while maintaining the other skills.

One strategy that I have found is truly life altering is the paper a day analogy. This was first told to me over 30 years ago by one of my instructors, Paul Vunak. He explained it like this:

If every day, you laid a single piece of paper on your desk, you would not have very much after a week, or a few weeks, or even a few months, but at the end of a year, you would have almost a ream of paper, which is a significant amount. So if all we have time to train is three minutes, then fine. But do that three minutes every day without fail, and concentrate on a fundamental skill. Perhaps that skill would be shadowboxing. In that case, shadowbox for three minutes a day with 100000% focus and intent, and do that every day. Don’t look at it in a few weeks or months. Wait to check your progress after a year or so. By that time you will have racked hours of solid, useable practical training, and more importantly, you will have done it CONSISTENTLY. Recent studies in learning theory have led most experts to the conclusion that amount of practice is less important than how recently you trained. The skills are much closer to the surface when you spend a couple of minutes daily, rather than three hours a week but only done twice a week.

So if all the needed work seems daunting, and you have only a short time available, just pick something essential, and train it for that small amount of time available, but do it as close to daily as possible. I can truthfully say this concept probably benefited me more than almost any other single idea over the past 35 years.

Give it a shot.

3 thoughts on “One Small Thing A Day”

  1. Cecil,

    Great post on discipline and effective habits in training, well done. I really enjoy these articles!


  2. Hi Cecil,

    I read this article again and it’s probably one of the best articles that I like on the blog post because it’s all about doing and consistency and the lifestyle of martial arts.

    Now if I can get the 3-5X per week in the gym with the big rocks and then fill in the schedule with the small rocks, that will probably make a huge difference since everyone wants to schedule moving the big rocks on the calendar and being in the gym all of the time, however sometimes it’s not practical and things happen (family, work, energy levels, sick, etc.)

    What would be fun to try is writing on each piece of paper the amount of time and the activities accomplished on each of paper and then at the end of the year, put it in graph.

    At the end of the year, did I accomplish my goals, did the activities lead to the goals that I want (nutrition, attributes, skills, health benefits).

    Many thoughts on this blog post of yours, now the thought is what should the goals be, what should the best activities be to focus on to get the best results?

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