Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Giving yourself permission to "go for it"

"Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead. "
~ Roger Bannister (After becoming the first person to break the four-minute mile, 1952)

The day that I realized that my autistic son needed to homeschool for him to learn, and cope with life, I felt deep inner terror at the responsibility of not only being his mother, but also becoming a teacher. I had to give myself permission to attempt the impossible, face the challenge, surmount it, and do what needed to be done.

The first time that I stood in the dojo, and realized that I was going to attempt learning karate, I was frozen in fear of failure, of rejection, and of ridicule. I drew on that inner core of strength I had developed through facing the challenges of homeschooling my children to find the strength to get in that line up, and join class in spite of my misgivings. I had learned that I had to be willing to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow.

The first time that I was asked to do a handstand, I felt an inner cringing.. but this time I was familiar with the challenge to get beyond my inner fears, and to allow myself permission to "go for it". I realized that falling down is part of learning to walk, and coloring outside of the lines always happens when you learn how to color. In fact, no one learns without having to get past their barriers, and limitations. The only thing that we are perfect at doing the first time we attempt to do it would be our reflex actions. It does not take any effort on our part to blink when something is heading towards our eyes, but it does take concentration to keep your eyes open when a fist is heading towards your head.

It is our attitude within that helps us take things in a positive way, and bring excellence out of ourselves.

The Dojo Kun exhorts us to "Endeavor to excel." AH... now I can understand how excelling in anything means being willing to strive for what we think is not possible, but we give ourselves permission to "go for it" anyway in spite of errors, fears, and misgivings.


Colin Wee said...

I'd like to leave an opposing but still relevant thought.

Many beginners and intermediate belts may think that martial arts equates to pure physical effort. This is a mistaken idea. Once you think MA is about pure effort, you're not far off thinking blind effort is the prime objective of your art. No high performing athlete uses pure fitness. In fact it is generally understood that high level sport or peformance is 99% mental - as in your performance is dictated by mental tenacity and your mental 'game'. In my school we use several exercises to get people out of the 'programming' that may occur whilst working out in a gym, or with weights, or doing aerobics. These exercises prompts a person to think whilst doing drills. No switching off the mind here. My aim is to produce a thinking martial artist from the beginnning. If they want then want to train further for breaking, or marathon sparring, or cross country kata, well ... hopefully they keep their wits about them and figure out that the mind-body bond is very important. In short, the decision to start something or push yourself hard is extremely important. But your instructor and coach (or yourself) should have the wherewithal to pull yourself back if you're putting too much into it. If you're getting grumpy for not squeezing in that workout or if you're not in the mood to see even good friends, or if your social life is suffering ... chances are you are not balancing your priorities. If you get this kind of tunnel vision, it may affect your survival in a situation where you need as much quick thinking as quick kicking. :-)

supergroup7 said...

Colin, I love this comment SO much that I would like to place it as my next blog entry.. up on the front page so that it's visible right away, and not hidden in the comments section. May I have your permission to do so?

I do not see your words as opposing at all. My post really centered on conquering my inner fears, and terror at being faced with what I thought was an insurmountable obstacle, and yet I chose to attempt to meet the challenge anyways regardless of the end result. I was focusing on the inner mental aspect of training rather than the physical one.

I love how you encourage us to have the wisdom to pull back on our training if we are building up a negative effect on our minds, bodies or lives. Your ending sentence sends an awesome message.

Thank you for commenting.

Colin Wee said...

M - You really don't have to ask my permission for that. :-) If you'd like to put it on your main page, sure! FYI - there's an error you might want to edit out. Colin