October 5, 2020

Karate 4 Life
Karate 4 Life
The Rule of 1%

How good would it be if you could get a 1% return on investment?

Well… if you thinking 1% per annum like the banks give you, then it’s probably not so attractive.

But what about if it’s 1% per week or even 1% per day, compounded?

Sounds too good to be true, but it’s possible.

Full disclosure: This episode is about personal growth, not finances. But if properly applied, this could also have a very positive effect on your finances if that’s your focus.

We want to help you make a shift in mindset that allows you to create this kind of growth through consistent effort and a push towards continual improvement.

Think about it, let’s say there’s something that you really like to do and you do it on a regular basis… like karate 😉

Every time you train, you aim to improve by just 1%. If you can do that, how quickly do you think you could be twice as good compared to your starting point?

This is the basis of the rule of 1%, but it doesn’t stop there.

—- Transcript —-

Martin: Hey everyone, this is Martin & Sandra Phillips and welcome back to the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: Today we want to talk about, ‘The Rule of 1%.’

Martin: We’ve noticed that everyone faces challenges in life, some big some small. But not everyone has a way to navigate these problems.

Sandra: It’s not always easy, but we’ve found that we always keep coming back to what we’ve learned from our years in the dojo.

Martin: And that’s what this podcast is about…

Sandra: Helping us all find the solutions to life’s problems…

Martin: Or even better yet, to remove the problems before they arise.

Sandra: This is Martin & Sandra Phillips and welcome to the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: Okay, today, Martin, we wanted to look at one of the most powerful habits that we’ve come to learn over time. I guess initially in our journeys we didn’t really realise we’re even doing this when we’re quite young, but I guess when you’re teaching for a long time, you soon come to realise the power of this habit. I’m going to hand over to you to share a bit more about this habit.

Martin: All right. In one of the previous episodes, we’ve talked about the idea of a growth mindset and that the idea of seeking continual improvement. One of the really powerful ways to do that is through this “Power of 1%”, we call it. This idea of growing just 1% every time you do something, and you just add a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better, and then over a period of time, you see a whole lot of change.

Sandra: Okay, so you’ve been training for how many years now?

Martin: Just a couple.

Sandra: Just a couple of years. How many years is a couple?

Martin: 36 years.

Sandra: Okay, so 36 years. In 36 years, is there any examples that come to mind where you can see this in your journey of practicing, striving to be 1% better?

Martin: It’s one of those things. I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever been a fast learner. I pick things up quickly, but I wouldn’t say I’ve at any one stage, I’ve progressed through the ranks very quickly. It’s always been a fairly constant, steady path forward for me. With that in mind, I guess my whole journey has been about little by little, step by step, going that little bit further.

Sandra: That’s great. I think one of the things that you’re most famous for in our dojo is “You just gotta turn up.”

Martin: You just keep turning up.

Sandra: You gotta keep turning up. You keep on saying to everybody. When you keep turning up, do you think of it in terms of, “I’m going to keep turning up, but do it better this time?”

Martin: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s the goal, that’s the underlying thing. It’s not just turn up and go through the motions and come back and do it all the same again. If you do it all the same again, you’re going to end up in the same place in 10 years’ time. In taking that small– Even if it’s the smallest step forward, whatever it is, if you see some kind of improvement in every lesson that you do, then you can’t help but grow.

Sandra: Okay. As a student– When you go to the dojo now as a student, just to help some other people think of this. When you go into the dojo, what are you thinking as far as– What are you trying to focus on in terms of being 1% better? Is it the way you bow? Is it the way you speak? Is the way you interact with others? Is there something that comes to mind?

Martin: There’s lots of things that could potentially be there. I think this is where a lot of people make a mistake with this 1% better thing. They focus too much on the results. Let’s say, in the dojo, for example, they focus on “What’s the next belt? I’ve got to get to the next belt. I’ve got to get to the next belt.” Rather than focusing on “What are the things that are going to help me get to the next belt?”

If you focus on those things, as a beginner, you’re focusing on just getting good form in your technique. You’re focusing on improving the way that you step, so getting your feet in the right positions. Every time you do it, you think, “Okay, that didn’t quite feel right,” or my teacher came along and gave me a little bit of a push and I fell over really easily. I’ve gotta adjust something, I got to change something and make it a little bit different.

In those early stages, you get a lot of direct feedback from your teacher. As you progress through a little bit further, you start to become a little bit more self-active, and hopefully start to start to look at things yourself and start to make self-corrections because you’ve received feedback many times, over and over and over again, and you start to realise, “I can do this myself.”

Sandra: That’s fantastic. If we go back in time, just a little bit in time when you were a brown belt. I remember you sharing this story with some of our black belts quite a while ago now. You mentioned the time that you went to your first brown and black belt session. I’d love to know more about that.

Martin: Yes. I was quite young when I first got my brown belt, relatively young. I can’t remember how old now. I think it was just before I hit high school, I got my brown belt.

I remember going to a brown and black belt training session, and there was all these brown and black belts from different dojos all over the place. In my memory, at least, there were 20 or 30 people there, and because I’d just recently graded to brown belt, I was the last one in line, and there’s all these people in front of me lined up. I remember making this a goal for myself that I didn’t want to be the last one in line.

Over time, my goal was to move forward through those ranks. That was my goal, but the thing that helped me do that was the day-to-day basis of turning up in class and finding this 1% improvement, this continual improvement, improvement, improvement, improvement, and through that process of, ONE to turn up, TWO to turn up with the view of improving. That’s allowed me to overtime now be one of the seniors, one of the more senior people in Australia.

Sandra: That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. It’s a really great story to share with our younger people coming through. If we look at, in the dojo now when we’re teaching, we will often have little prompts for our students; our younger students, our little champions. We often don’t say, “1% better,” because it gets glazed over in their eyes…

Martin: What’s 1%?

Sandra: … what is 1%? We will often say to the little champions, “Let’s try and do it a little bit better.”

Martin: Just that little bit better.

Sandra: Just a little bit better, and it’s amazing how you can say to a little champion, “Let’s kiai a little bit louder–“

Martin: It goes from volume 2 to volume 10 in one step.

Sandra: Yes, and they just roar, don’t they?

Martin: They do.

Sandra: It’s amazing. If that’s their “little bit better” on their kiai, can you imagine what a little bit better with cleaning their bedroom is? Seriously.

Martin: Imagine that.

Sandra: [chuckles] It’d be insane.

Martin: Do you think we can try that with our teenagers?

Sandra: Yes, they’re pretty cool. They’re good kids.

Martin: [laughs]

Sandra: Okay. When we get to the karate kids and the adults who are obviously looking at, as far as to help them use their minds in a way, we do, I’ll just say “1% better” to those guys, but we also plant seeds of thought and we teach them how to think when they’re training. Can you share a bit more about that when you’re teaching?

Martin: Thinking about this “1% better, 1% better, 1% better.” I guess it starts right from when you first walk into the dojo. You walk into the dojo, the first thing to do is to just to clear your mind and come in with a clear head. Let go of whatever’s been going on in your day. When we get into the dojo, we start the class with a meditation (mokusou) and that’s the time when you’re sitting down to get that focal point for what is it that you want to improve on? You’re getting that focal point. It might just be, “Okay, today, I remember in my last lesson, I had this lesson and my teacher said, I’ve got to relax.” You’ve never heard that before, have you heard?

Sandra: I’ve never heard that in my life.

Martin: [chuckles] You’ve never heard that before. “I’ve got to relax just a little bit more. Today, I’m going to focus on trying to relax my body through breathing. I’m going to focus on my breathing, relaxing my shoulders, and sinking down into my stance.” If I keep that thought in the forefront of my mind in just whatever we do throughout the class, that’s the focal point.

Sandra: Yes. Rather than letting your mind think of anything it wants to think about, you’re pretty well telling your mind what to think about.

Martin: You’re directing your mind right from the start.

Sandra: Directing your mind from the start. That’s fantastic. If we were to take this outside the dojo– For example, I love watching you being a better father. It’s great watching you the way you interact with our kids. Obviously, from day one to now, it just gets more and more interesting watching you guys play. Can you share– They’re teenagers now; 13 and 15. Can you share a few things that you think about being a better father in your mind?

Martin: Oh, man. You put me in the spot there.

Sandra: I did.

Martin: Yes, I love that. Number one is just to be present. I know it’s really easy to get distracted by anything. You’re distracted by technology, distracted by work, distracted by other thoughts that are running around your head. The first one is to be present. That’s probably one for me, personally, is to aim, to just be present, be available and play, get involved in whatever’s going on.

Sandra: Yes, and you’re one of those big fans of Mario Kart, yes?

Martin: Oh, yes.

Sandra: Very competitive in that household with Mario Kart, especially in the school holidays?

Martin: [laughs] Yes.

Sandra: That’s right. Okay, so getting back to the topic of being 1% better. If we got to wrap this up and to encourage people, just in all areas of their life to try and be 1% better, can we get your final thoughts on that?

Martin: Final thoughts on being 1% better. Like I said with getting to the dojo, is to direct your mind. Start with a focal point. It doesn’t have necessarily be the goal, but what’s taking you towards that goal. What are the actions that you can do that are going to take you towards that goal and look at how you’re doing those things and how you can do those things just that little bit better.

Sandra: I love it. I guess even if you’re at home and the first thing you’re getting out in the morning, of course, you do that. It might be gratitude moments, being grateful for the day moving forward, but rather than letting the day happen and unfold, it could be as simple as saying, “Let’s make today that little bit better than we did yesterday…

Martin: Simple, simple.

Sandra: …and deliberately put that seed in your mind and move forward in that way.

Martin: Thanks for listening to today’s episode of the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: If you found this episode useful, please comment on our website karate4life.com

Martin: Share it with your friends via social media and don’t forget to tag us #karate4lifepodcast.

And if you’ve got a topic that you’d like us to cover in future episodes or questions about karate or life…

Sandra: Please send us a message, we’d be more than happy to share our thoughts.

Martin: Thanks again for joining us and stay tuned for the next episode which will be an introduction to the basics of karate and life, otherwise known as ichi gan, ni soku, san tan, shi riki.

About the author 

Sandra & Martin Phillips

Co-Founders of Karate 4 Life Online (established 2020) & Sunshine Coast Karate (established 2000).
Martin Phillips, 5th Dan, Renshi (Master Instructor) & Kobujutsu 4th Dan.
Sandra Phillips, 5th Dan, Renshi (Master Instructor) & Kobujutsu 3rd Dan.

Leave a Reply
  1. A very important concept indeed, and what a great way to introduce young minds to this concept. Our children are so lucky to be growing alongside such exceptional Sensei at our dojo with growth mindset; even a preschooler tries to “do a little bit better” next time they try. I’m excited where this can lead us all to…as they say, sky is the limit…

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}