Last night in class we worked a shoden level paired waza (or kumitachi), Nanahon mei no kata. This particular kata consists of both blade work and open hand. For me, sword work is generally easier. Open hand (literally the translation is kara te, from which we get the word karate) is somewhat conceptually more difficult for me as I have not really done a great deal of martial arts and thus I am essentially learning this all for the first time.
Tonight was a night of corrections for me, mostly around my form and even my basic movements. I do not mind the correction as I desperately need it. About halfway through night sensei clarified that his intent was not to pick on me; rather, it was to help me level up for eventual attendance to a training in Japan.
Leveling up. Oddly enough it is a concept that anyone who has played role playing games or even electronic games understands: get enough points or enough items of value and you "level up", generally gaining more powers and become more hardy. But a concept that we in real life do not seem to consider is even possible.
Part of the problem, I suppose, is that leveling up in real life is not as clear cut as leveling up in a game. In a game, there is a known threshold to hit: 10,000 points, 50,000, 100,000 points. In real life such a hard threshold does not exist: we perhaps simply seem to arrive at some point with a greater ability to do what we need to do than what we had before.
Bur really, leveling up is as critical in real life as it is in any game.
Leveling up means that we are getting better. We are gaining more knowledge or skill. We are no longer a rank amateur with no idea of what to do; instead, we have some level of skill and knowledge that we can apply to do things better and faster.
We could help ourselves, I suppose, sort of like the belt system in martial arts. Within interests or fields or organizations there is often a sense (or such a sense could be drawn up) about what a particular body of knowledge or area should know, like the old system of apprentices and journeymen. Knowing that body of knowledge and demonstrating knowledge or practice of it would be enough to move one to the next level.
It gives one a goal. It gives one abilities and knowledge. But most of all it gives us the ability to note the forward progress in our lives instead of leaving us flail about, always feeling like we should be moving forward but never able to give voice or representation to it in a meaningful way.