Part 1: Move with Intention
A saying that has stuck with me throughout my many years of martial arts training, but has also carried over into every aspect of my life as well. In my earlier years of sparring, I learned very quickly that I am constantly going to be set up against bigger opponents at my 4’9” stature. Understanding this, I knew I had to use my speed and my small size to my advantage. Being able to quickly evade a kick was my strongpoint and countering with a classic Taekwondo spin-hook kick with the same amount of swiftness, I was a master at “getting in and getting out,” before getting hit. This served me well until my first tournament where I came up against an opponent in the final round of our division who was exactly my size, quickness and a powerhouse kicker as well. It was like looking into a mirror in every way— I was literally up against myself. And looking back in hindsight at this moment, it’s always a funny thing how we always seem to “be up against ourselves” in life.
What made our match-up so interesting was that our tactics were also very similar: she would come in with a string of combos, not letting up her guard, and as soon as she was done, she would get out of there quickly before getting hit with my counters. As she realized my fighting style was similar however, she started to become more aggressive. Instead of backing out after a combo, she stood her ground unyieldingly, while I stayed inflexible in my approach and continued to pull away out of fear of getting hit. I wasn’t putting enough pressure on her and I started to lose control of the bout. Finally, she landed a hard push-kick to my solar plexus, knocking the wind out of me for a split second. Instead of taking a moment to regroup, in my mind, all I was seeing was red and I charged right back at her, allowing a perfect opening for yet another solid push-kick to the gut once again. Although the winner is announced at the end, I could already pinpoint exactly where I lost the match: when I allowed my composure and focus to get lost in my rage. I was throwing kicks that only reached air, and flailing punches that weren’t landing where they mattered most— all in a desperate attempt to “get her back” where she hurt me the most: my pride. I nursed a bruised ego that night and it took me a long time to find the heart to spar again. I had a few lessons to learn before I was able to take a good, honest look at myself and even to this day, I can say I’m still only learning how to balance this dance between ego and self. Where am I operating from right now? What is moving me? Am I serving from my ego and am I being authentic in my truth and actions?
It wasn’t until I had a coach that watched my sparring for the first time, pulled me aside and told me bluntly:
“You need to move with intention.”
I was confused. What did she mean? So she explained it to me like this:
If you’re going to move in, move in with a purpose. With intention. You fight as if you have no backing. You throw a few punches and kicks and then you back out like it was just for show. You have to stand your ground. Get hit. Be in the line of fire because that’s how you get stronger. You learn to get hit and don’t fall back in the process. It does something psychologically to your opponent when you don’t flinch or falter from their blows. The way you spar should make a statement: I AM HERE.
And that’s where it finally hit me. It finally started to click. Just like in life, you’re going to be tested and pushed around and we can either get beat up by life and be defeated by it, or we can learn to stand tall, take the hits and fight through it even harder. My life since then has been focused solely on maneuvering my way with this philosophy and mindset alone.
That is, until I learned the second part of the lesson.. “Rest with purpose.”
Until next time!