Instinct kicks in!
So, it’s a nice day and the kids are outside playing. The parents were inside cleaning or doing whatever they could now that the kids aren’t in the house. Everything looks peaceful and wonderful. But as two of the little girls are playing, a neighborhood boy, mad about being excluded from a game, went home and got a pocket knife out of the drawer of his father’s toolbox. He then went back to the girls and brandished the knife in a threatening manner. Now, did he really intent to hurt the girls? Probably not. Was he really going to use the knife? I hope not. But when you are in that situation, “probably” and “hoping” doesn’t matter.
In that moment of stress and fear, you don’t have time to think. Thinking causes hesitation. Hesitation gets you hurt. All you have is instinct. You have to feel what is right. You have to react on instinct. I know you have heard me say “let go”, “feel it” or “trust yourself.” The reason I say these things is to get students to empty their minds and just be one with the moment. Everything we do, the drills, the forms, the kicking on the rail and the games are all geared to get the students not to think about what they are doing but to let them do the kicks and techniques automatically. Once they have had enough practice drills, we have them begin sparring so they can actually put those skills to use and test them. That way they can figure out what techniques work not only from what ranges, but from what angles and what speed. Why do green belts stink at sparring? Because they are still thinking. Thinking, as I said before, breeds hesitation.
With practice, thinking is gradually reduced and instinct takes over and the hesitation almost disappears. Yes, it can be frustrating. But when it comes time to actually HAVE to use it, those little hits with pads on when sparring are more than worth it as our natural reactions kick in with alarming speed.
What happened to the two girls? The older girl instinctively placed herself between the boy and her sister keeping the boy out of arms reach but not turning her back to expose herself to an attack. She told her sister to run and when the boy looked away for a second, the older girl quickly closed the distance and punched the boy’s nose. When the boy stumbled back, she knew he was a safe enough distance away for her to turn and run.
I would like to tell you that story was a work a fiction. Unfortunately, it actually happened to one of our Taekwondo United students in another state. If you think that is the only time something like this has happened, You would be mistaken. Every month I hear a story from an instructor from another school, student or parent of how one of our students handled a situation that could have lead to serious injury. In every case, their instincts determined the outcome, and that’s a nice thing indeed!