Sustainability in Practice

A mediocre practice that we maintain is better than an exceptional practice that we quit.

Wabi-sabi street art photo by Robert Van Valkenburgh (artist unknown)

It is good to push ourselves, to try to reach beyond our capabilities, and to expand our limitations, but not if it continually burns us out. Burn out is not sustainable and a practice, by definition, must be sustainable. It is better to settle for slow, steady progress than to aim too high and continually fail.

Of course, we should set our goals and our expectations high, but it is unreasonable to believe that we will reach these goals and meet theses expectations quickly or that it will be easy. Going too fast, pushing ourselves too the edge of our capabilities too often or for too long a time, will, sooner or later, cause us to fail. When this happens, it is not because of inherent weakness on our part, but because nature demands balance.

For all of the strength and will required to push us forward, to drive us to improve, to create, to growth, and to change, is an underlying fragility. It is this actually this fragility that propels us, but it is also this fragility that is exposed when we go too far, too quickly. In order to remain consistent in our progress, we must find a sustainable pace, frequency, and rate of expansion where our strength and fragility are in balance.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Street art photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh, artist unknown unless otherwise noted.

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