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Drive it Like You Stole it

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Screen Capture from Need for Speed Most Wanted Hands-On

The saying, “drive it like you sole it,” has always made me laugh. Just imagining the reckless abandon in which you would careen down the road if you were guilty of grand theft auto and trying not to get caught by the blue lights in pursuit. You would push the vehicle to the limits, wear the tires to their core and push the limitations of fear aside in favor of the one big fear that was motivating you – getting caught. Of course it wouldn’t be funny if someone really drove like this. However, when someone tells grandpa whose getting into his 1970’s era wood-paneled station wagon or the kid who just got his license to, “drive it like they stole it,” they definitely get some laughs.

Why does that phrase instantly conger up images of such crazy and inappropriate driving? It’s the motivation of trying not to get caught in the midst of a major crime. The humor comes in because none of us would ever do such a thing. The other interesting thing about the phrase, is that it suggests we change our behavior and push our limitations by imagining there is a major motivation in place. We don’t ever “drive it like we stole it” because it is wildly inappropriate but what if we did? What if by imaging a scenario that didn’t exist we pushed beyond our limits?

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Burpees

I decided to test this premise with a group of our teenage martial arts students during their warm ups. I asked them to do a series of exercises -10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups and 10 burpees. Each time they completed all those exercises they counted that as one circuit. They had two minutes to do as many circuits as they could. It was just a simple request with no consequence at the end. I started the timer and they set to do as many as they could. I kept yelling motivation to them especially when I saw slow transitions from exercise to exercise or pausing in the middle of a set. They definitely worked hard but weren’t quite moving with the purpose I knew they could. At the end of the two minutes, I went around the room and each student announced their number.

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The Gift of Confidence from the Ashes of Defeat

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
-Eleanor Roosevelt

 

DefeatImagine being slammed against a cage. No matter what you do… how well you cover, fists slip between your hands pounding your face. You throw a hook hoping to disrupt the assault, but you hit only air and leave an opening where you take another solid hit. The edge of a four-ounce glove opens a gash along you cheek bone. You hear groans. You know the groans are your mom, your wife, your best friend and the people who gave up their time to train you. Your corner is yelling advice that you try to follow but really all you can do is get hit again. Then everything goes black and you know nothing else until you’re with the ref and your opponent whose hand is raised high. The crowd cheers for him. Then you have to endure phrases like, “good try,” and “hey at least you got in there and did it. That’s more than I can say.” The truth is you lost. You failed.

 

One of the most important things a martial artist does in the dojo is fail. In the Life Skills from the Dojo blog post The Dojo – Our Quiet Little Koi Pond, we discuss the little failures that happen every time you step on the mat. They pave the way to long-term success like bricks laid one after the other – tapped into place so, in the end, they fit together perfectly forming a solid walkway. However, it is the big failures that define who we are. I wrote about my son failing his black belt test in Falling Down and Getting up. It was failing that test, picking himself up and doing what it took to pass it the next time, that taught him who he is. A gift is presented in these big failures, the gift of true confidence.

 

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Ultimate Frisbee, Ultimate Thought

frisbee_000-270x300Every year our dojo takes students to a camp on Lake Winnipesaukee for the weekend. Karate Camp offers students lots of good training, swimming and activities. With any luck, it’s also a time when the students learn something about themselves.  The older students are dragged out of bed early in the morning for calisthenics on the lake’s sandy beach and usually subjected to some sort of mental and physical challenge. The younger ones are given a little more responsibility and freedom for the weekend but required to follow a set of rules and are held accountable for their decisions and behavior.  All weekend the student’s are pushed and challenged.
During the weekend, I’ll witness several moments where students make little breakthroughs and realizations about who they are and what they’re capable out. This year one of those moments happened during a pickup game of Ultimate Frisbee.
One of the older students, a great kid filled with passion and drive, jumped  on to my team.  He’s the kind of kid that is up for anything and, because of his drive and willingness to work with a team, is an asset to any group. (He’s also tall, which is always a good thing in Ultimate Frisbee.)
As our team faded back to throw the Frisbee to the other team, this young man was already declaring our victory. The white disk sailed high into the sunny sky over the field until it slowed and floated into the hands of our competition.  After a few good passes and battles over catching the Frisbee, we finally gained possession. Being athletic and fast, this young man was immediately open and pumping toward the goal line. I snapped the disk to him. He accelerated, creating a comfortable distance between himself and the person covering. He reached the disk. Stretching, his fingertips met the Frisbee perfectly then he fumbled and dropped it. Immediately, he was angry with himself.

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The Power of Visualization – How your children are imagining success in the dojo.

Imagine a world where you are perfect. In this world, anything you know how to do you can do without mistakes. You don’t have to imagine this world. This world is imagining.

 

Creative Visualization is like a super power. It is the ability to imagine yourself doing something well, then doing that thing just as you’ve imagined. It is used by top performers in athletics and business and it’s practiced by your child during their karate class. Like many things that are learned in the martial arts, it’s not always obvious to them. They practice the skills, but don’t quite know that they are and certainly don’t realize the awesome potential it has to impact their lives.

 

This is where you as a parent have the opportunity to step in and help them make a connection. You can be the other side of the coin, helping them stretch this skill they’re learning in the dojo into their lives. If you are an adult student of the martial arts keep reading, this all applies to you too. You can translate this skill to your life outside the dojo.

 

The Study

 

Before we discuss how visualization is learned in the dojo, let’s look at the science.  In the book Karate of Okinawa: Building Warrior Spirit with Gan*Soku*Tanden*Riki  By Robert Scaglione and William Cummins,they refer to a Russian study done just before the 1980 Olympics. The Olympic athletes were divided into four groups:

 

  • Group 1 received 100% physical training;
  • Group 2 received 75% physical training with 25% mental training;
  • Group 3 received 50% mental training with 50% physical training;
  • Group 4 received 75% mental training with 25% physical training.

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