Mind over Matter

It happened again.


A student made up their mind to accomplish a goal and did it in a single hour of dedicated and determined practice.  Unlike breaking a board, or practicing for a month, these types of transitions are unique.  Both the teacher and the student know, and witness first hand, the inability to accomplish the goal.


When I hold a board for a student, I know fully that certain students can smash through it.  When I teach them a kick, I know they’ll get it eventually if they practice.  But when they do the impossible in a single class time, something amazing has happened right before our eyes.


In this case, it was a back flip.  At the start of the class the student could NOT do it.  It was impossible.  They were afraid to commit to the flip, they made a solid hour of failed attempts.  Then…they hit one.  Then another.  And another.  I kept repeating “Keep going!  Don’t hesitate!  Don’t let your mind forget!”  By the end of it, the student was doing back flips everywhere.


But what CHANGED?!  The student wasn’t any stronger or more flexible.  The student didn’t get magical powers, or get bitten by a radioactive spider.  If anything, they were more tired and weaker than at the start of class.  So what changed?


The mind.  Most fundamentally, it was their memory of a successful attempt and how it felt.  Once the successful attempt happened, their belief changed from “I can’t,” to “I can.”


It makes one wonder….what we would be capable of if we believed in ourselves…


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