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Amy Coulson, WWC Double Bronze Medalist…

Amy scrapping with Rie Hirai, another of the Shiramizu Alumni at the Wado World Cup 2010.

Amy did very well at the Wado World Cup, we’ve had this friendly rivalry between us since Amy first began competing. Amy is natuarally competitive and her goal for a while now has been to win more medals than I’ve won in my competition career so far. Before the WWC we were pretty close but with the lastest addition of TWO bronze medals (Individual & Team Kumite) at the Wado World Cup, I think it’s fair to say that Amy has taken the lead!

Amy with Sakagami Sensei

You’d think Amy would be particularly pleased with her performance and I’m sure deep down she is. The main thing that’s bringing smiles to her face is the fact that at the Japan Nationals which were held a week after the WWC, Amy scored with TWO HEAD KICKS in her first round fight, Amy wasn’t even upset at just missing out in this very close 8 points to 7 match. Head kicks are something that Amy has struggled with for a long time and she thinks this landmark achievement is more significant than winning medals at the Worlds. – This is clearly a result of having ‘Performance Related Goals’ rather than being focussed on medals!

motivation… food for thought

One of the parent’s from the club asked me for a quiet word last week. We stepped to the side of the dojo and he explained that he was having problems getting his son to Karate classes every week. The parent explained that his son loves Karate when he’s actually doing it BUT he always wants to do other things instead of going to Karate. His most recent favourite is playing video games. This got me thinking about motivation…

I’m not an expert in this subject, nor am I particularly great at it. I think i’m naturally good at motivating & leading others, but i’ve found that i can be highly motivated to do certain things – making our club the best it can be, creating opportunities for our kids to access the best possible coaches etc… Other things are as yet beyond my abilities – dragging myself to the gym, making myself go running, sticking to a training routine.

This might come as a surprise coming from someone who will be competing internationally in a few short weeks but this isn’t an admission of laziness. Rather, this is me admitting that I’m in no way perfect and i’m sure a lot of people can relate to the occasional search for excuses to get out of training. Housework to do, meeting or exam to prep for, burned out from work/school/college, have to go to the pub tonight because…. there’s a ‘Y’ in the day etc etc… Basically the list of excuses is endless, and they are excuses.

One of Amy’s favourite phrases is if you want something badly enough, you go out and get it. This is pretty simple to say, putting it into practise often takes a lot of hard work, personal sacrifice and blood, sweat and tears. Don’t be fooled, their are people out there who always seem to get what they want, when they want it and they make it look easy. Some people are like that, they may be naturally gifted and talented in the area they are trying to succeed in. More than likely though, they have decided what they want and have set out with the drive and commitment needed to ‘go out and get’ what they want.  Amy is one of these people. She works hard, and keeps going until she get’s where she wants to be.

I think it all comes down to goals and choices.

‘A goal is a dream with a deadline…!’ Napolean Hill

Goals – i.e. what do you want to achieve? If you don’t know what you want or where you want to be in six months, 12 months etc… how are you going to know when you’re there? and when you need to update your goals?

When we get a new student through the door, we ask them to complete a basic A5 questionnaire which has basic things like emergency contact details, basic medal info, any additional support needs etc… We also ask ‘Why do you want to start Karate?’ as soon as the person has entered the dojo for the first time, we’ve started with the ‘goal setting’ behaviour. Some of the answers we’ve had are quite revealing and If I get chance I’ll write a post just about them. A lot of the kids answers are ‘to get my black belt’, Parents often state ‘to get confidence’ one of the more interesting one’s was ‘to learn how to beat people up’.

An important note about goals, they should be performance related rather than result-orientated. In Karate competition this would mean that you aim to perform your best, rather than aiming to pick up a gold medal. A lot of things might stop you from reaching your gold medal, you might come across the world champ in round 1, you might get a really biased referee (it happens) etc.. etc… These things are ultimately outside of your control.

The main thing that stops you from achieving a performance related goal is…. you! If you haven’t put in enough prep work, if you let yourself get psyched out, if you’re not fit enough etc… etc… You are always in control of you, that’s why this sort of goal is better for you.

Alongside your long term goals e.g. getting your black belt, what short term, day to day goals are you setting yourself? What are you doing today that will help you achieve your long term goals? These should be specific and achievable things like – ‘i’m going to attend training today’ & ‘i’m going to do ten press-ups & ten sit ups everyday’. These are small, managable and achievable goals that will give you confidence to try tougher goals in the future. You should pat yourself on the back when you reach your goals and reward yourself. This way you’ll want to achieve your next set of personal goals.

You can see how this day to day approach can lead you onto bigger and better things.

Choices – We have a choice in everything we do. It might not always be a great choice, but we can always make a choice. We choose to go to work each day… we choose to eat healthy… we choose to drink 1 pint instead of 6! we choose to achieve our goals…. we choose to be the best we can be. This one for me, goes hand in hand with the goal setting. Set yourself a simple goal and choose to achieve it. Congratulate yourself and then set another goal and choose to achieve that.

This basic approach can lead you to greatness in any part of your life!!! Try it, you might surprise yourself…


Yes, this morning at an unholy hour, I was dragged kicking and screaming to the local pool to do some well, swimming…. Amy reminds me that it’s for the ‘greater good’…. hmmm…. where have i heard that before?

Wikipedia says this about the subject:

Swimming is movement through water using one’s limbs, and usually without artificial apparatus. Swimming is an activity that can be both useful and recreational. Its primary uses are bathing, cooling, fishing, recreation, exercise, and sport. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_swimming)

Let’s look at that some more…

bathing – er no… totally unsanitary!

cooling – slightly…

fishing – not in the public pool!

recreation – nope, Amy made me go…

exercise – yup, everything aches now, and i’ve found new muscles now and yes, they also ache!

sport – i prefer Tiddlywinks…

The only up side to going was that being a Monday morning, the local pool had a water aerobics class going on and they had some killer tunes including…. S Club 7 & Spandau Ballet which I was obviously bopping away to…

…good times!