Last week I took a Tae Kwon Do class. It was the first formal martial arts training I’ve endured in many many years. I didn’t do too poorly either. The class was centered on basic movements – something it is always beneficial to revisit. Best of all, I received some professional critiquing.
Towards the end of the program we practiced side kicks into a bag. My kicks used to be semi-legendary for sheer power. Now, I am a little older and, yes, weaker than I used to be. After five or six kicks the instructor, an old friend and mentor of mine, commented that I was “holding back.” In addition to decades of experience, he was holding the bag steady and could feel the impact. I thought for a second and realized he was correct as usual. I was very happy merely lifting my leg and making precise contact but I was putting a woefully inadequate amount of strength into my delivery.
On the next kick, and those that followed, I hit hard and pushed through. Unless a kick is designed to push an opponent back in order to buy time or space, its purpose is to penetrate as deeply as possible. This requires mentally aiming into the center of the target and producing enough torque to effectively carry through the strike.
Whereas my first efforts made contact and sent a mild shock-wave through the bag, the final hits actually moved it backwards – hard. This resulted in both bag and instructor being rapidly displaced.
Afterwards I briefly reflected on why I had initially held back. What I came up with amounted to fear and uncertainty. I was unsure of whether I still had it and I figured that, being slightly out of shape, I should go easy on myself. Both of these problems resided entirely inside my head.
The mere action of kicking chest level and hitting dead center demonstrated I could still perform properly. I won’t lie – my joints and muscles hurt. Years of inactivity and a little age will do that. However, hitting full force didn’t hurt any worse than halfhearted strikes. In other words, I had nothing to lose by going all in.
(She ain’t holding back. Google images.)
This incident is allegorical to much of life. Take this blog for instance; I have scores of draft articles just sitting in limbo. It’s probably enough material for several books. My hesitation deprives me of self-expression and you of reading enjoyment.
I have a habit of writing/publishing for months at a time and then taking an equal time off. The reasons don’t really matter. The point is my inconsistency produces nothing while continued consistency would require little if any additional effort.
I bet you hold back in similar fashion – in numerous areas of life. Get with it – you’ve nothing to lose. There, you may now think of me as your martial arts/mental coaching instructor. Don’t hold back!
PS: Don’t do anything stupid. Leave that to me.