Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to use hiking analogies. Really, people, all of life can be explained through hiking analogies -- I swear!
There's a type of hiker known as the "peak bagger", whose objective is to reach the summit of some peak or group of peaks (the 10,000-footers of Colorado, for example, or the 4,000-footers of the New Hampshire White Mountains). To a peak bagger, the route taken to the top, the experience along the way, or any skill gained in the process is secondary at best and often completely irrelevant: crossing that peak off your list is what matters. That's not to say that you can't have some amazing experiences in the course of summiting a list of peaks, but if your reason for being there is to check the peak off your list, those amazing experiences will tend to pass you by, even when they're right in your path. And if they involve taking a side trail? Forget it.
But a peak bagger doesn't always stay a peak bagger. Those encouragements to be something other than that are always there at the edges of the straight-to-the-top experience, just waiting to be noticed. The side trail with the marker "Money Brook Falls 1.1 mile"...the maple sapling next to the trail that makes you wonder what it will look like in the fall...the old man you meet at a stream crossing whose battered hat causes you to think that he's got a lot of hiking stories to tell.
One day you go to a trailhead, and instead of taking the summit trail, you take a different one. Maybe it will get you to the summit, maybe it won't. Maybe it will take you around the shoulder of the mountain and show you a view you wouldn't have seen going the other way. Or maybe it will take you into a swamp, and you'll get wet feet and blisters and mosquito bites (and, maybe, get to see a great blue heron too). But as soon as you start hiking without an agenda, the whole experience opens up and becomes much more. Training without an agenda is much the same. Rather than setting a series of goals for yourself -- I will learn to execute this move correctly, I will master that ukemi, I will memorize this form, I will test for this rank -- it might be better to aspire to simply step onto the mat without an agenda. If the journey doesn't take you anywhere you want to be, well, that's okay -- after a while you'll figure that out, and you'll go find another experience. But be patient with it. A useful hiking saying is, "Good judgment comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgment." You have to get lost a few times to learn how to really be found; you have to get wet and sore and scratched and bug-bit before you know which discomforts should be avoided and which are just part of the price you pay for a worthwhile experience.