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Life Lessons from board breaking


You wouldn’t initially think that something like breaking a board can teach you a lesson you can use for the rest of your life. It’s something that is commonly done in the martial arts during testing and demonstrations. At the surface , it shows that the person can apply the principles of proper technique, power and speed in a way that can be outwardly measured.

This achievement goes much deeper than simply breaking a board in half. A person can learn a lot about themselves. Let’s first look at what is learned from a successful break. When you are successful at breaking with any technique you’ve learned what you’ve done right. You’ve gained the satisfaction that is earned from putting in the effort to achieve a goal. It’s an exhilarating feeling when you’ve accomplished something that you didn’t at the beginning of your journey had doubts you could do. A successful board break results in a surge of confidence. But, you can learn even more from an unsuccessful break....

Every student at some point in their training will have a break that gives them some extra trouble and initial try they will not succeed. There is always an initial disappointment but just passed that disappointment lies a choice. Either let it continue to be a roadblock or make efforts to achieve the goal after making the required corrections. When one of my students fails to break I always bring up my personal story. When I was a color belt I failed to do a back kick for one of my tests. I tell them that I was left with a choice ; continue to let my back kick be a problem for me or get to work and make it better. I choose the latter because one of our codes is “No retreat in battle”. Battles aren’t always against another person. Sometimes battles are with yourself. No retreat in battle can also be translated to “Never give up”. I got myself to the studio early every class so that I could work on my back kick. Now that kick is one of my best.

Here’s the lesson I leave with the students. Failure is not the end of the road and if you aren’t failing from time to time you’re not setting your sights at a great enough goal. Failure teaches us what didn’t work and more importantly they teach us we are more resilient than we think we are. It’s part of the process of getting better. And the only way a failure is the end is if you choose it to be. When you hit a roadblock you have a choice: let it stop you or figure out how to get around it, over it or through it. The old adage goes;

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”

-Stephen McCrainie

So get out there and set big goals for yourself. And don’t let the hiccups along the way get you down. They’re part of the process and through that process you’ll be an even better version of yourself.

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