Beyond the Grain: Lessons From Board-Breaking

When I was about 15, I had a boyfriend-ish (a guy who liked me and wanted me to be his girlfriend, and who had to see me by having his whole family come over when he visited, but with whom I couldn’t go out or do anything).  James was two years older, probably been around the block a few good rounds, but was much more immature than I was in other ways, usually in the thinking arena.

On one of his few visits, I remember us going outside with his sister, Gwen, and him seeing some lumber pieces laying around (my father was a contractor).  James was explaining something to me about breaking boards, and told either me or his sister (I forget which) to hold one of the wooden board pieces while he punched it to break it.  He revved up, and hit the piece of wood, but his hand bounced back, with the wood, unflinching.

I think he did this one or two more times, when I offered to try.  He held it for me, and I punched through it.  James was 5’11, about 160 lbs.; I was 5’3, about 100 lbs.  He picked up another piece of wood, just to be sure he didn’t weaken the first one for me, and again, my little fist punched through.  I explained that he had to aim behind the wood.

This memory clip came to me as I was thinking about how short-sighted we can get when it comes to achieving our goals.  We know what we want to see happen, but we focus on the wrong thing, so our projected destination may short us of the desired outcome.

For example, it is almost New Year’s Resolution time, and, for those who like a proverbial starting point, many will use the 1st of the year as their declaration to lose weight.  It is a very short-sighted, yet understandable target, but the problem is that focusing on the size or scale—the obvious, superficial issues—is often a goal with a reach too short to be truly successful.  It is like James’ focusing on aiming at the board to break it – it’s solid, easy to see, and so seems the right focal point.  But this effort actually focuses on the obstacle, not the solution.

Often times, weight issues (as are many health issues) are symptomatic of imbalances elsewhere, whether it be physical, hormonal, biological, psychological, etc., and focusing on restoring balance as needed is the best solution.

Instead of doing this, however, many start punching at the board (“Crap. I’ve gained weight again. I need to start dieting.”),  instead of punching through the board (“Hmm, what’s causing this weight gain?  How have I been feeling?  How is my lifestyle?  What have I been doing differently, or need to do differently? What should I get checked out?”).

This simple lesson can be applied across the board – relationships, work, finances – any area where an obstacle must be overcome.  Every circumstance is different, of course, and sometimes the issue isn’t so simply solved by merely identifying the problem and end point accurately, but it is necessary for the most concise route.

In short: Aim beyond the superficial plane to get the breakthrough you want.

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4 thoughts on “Beyond the Grain: Lessons From Board-Breaking

    • Wonderful! Glad to find another TKD fan! I understand the weight issue because people have come to me with their frustrations on it. I have never really had an issue with it, but when my friends tell me theirs, I can see immediately that our approach and relationship with food are different; often it is a disconnection from a more holistic approach on their end. Best of luck, and keep at the TKD – the forms and sparring involved incorporate so many muscles and skills and sharpen you mentally as well as condition you physically. 🙂

  1. This was great! I took TaeKwonDo all through middle and high school, and this is most definitely true. I never thought that this could apply to other areas of my life, but you make a good point. Time for me to start aiming for the real goals :]

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