Obstacles and Forward Momentum

Think about the following, and be truthful with yourself.

There are times in life when you will need to retreat a few steps. But at those times, is your energy and intention still moving forward?

You may feel loyal or committed to something you'd like to do or achieve, yet when an obstacle or bump in the road appears, or someone attempts to sabotage or stop you, what do you do? What is your response?

Give up?
Sit on it for awhile, and play out the emotions?

Or, do you retreat just enough to give yourself space to wait for an opportunity? An opening through it, with your eye focused beyond it.

In martial arts, this dual response is worked into muscle memory as an automatic response. Practitioners train retreating steps while keeping their intention and vital force moving forward. Specifically, in Chen Taijiquan, this forward-moving energy, which is actually present in all directions at all times, is a type of warding off energy, called 'Peng'. It allows for the practitioner to step back, always following the opponent, ward off the attack, yet awaiting and ever-ready for an opening to the offensive move. It applies no matter which direction the opponent is approaching. Both the retreat and forward energy happen simultaneously.

A commitment is a commitment. 

Of course, there are a multitude of sports analogies. That is a no-brainer. Just pull up an image of how an NFL quarterback looks as he takes those steps back or any direction to avoid being sacked; but you see his focus, and forward intention to locate the recipient and direction of his pass. You can see and sense it happen simultaneously in his body language.

Yet, it also transposes to life and life lessons. I'm certain that we've all read things other places that harmonize with this idea. There is, however, a difference between having the idea in your conscious mind and the physical manifestation of it. I'm not so certain that knowing about the idea will always enable you to act in accordance. 


Well, because of all of those pesky negative thought-patterns that surface and interfere. The ones that knock down your self-confidence and competency, and doubt your intention and goal. These thoughts and emotions keep you in a waiting mode or talk you out of it all together. In response, physically, this is where your focus and energy will flow. This is the energy you will begin to exude, scattered.

Scattered energy leads nowhere.

In Chen Taijiquan and other martial art paths, we train cultivating intention from a calm mind. We train the physical body to move accordingly and appropriately to the circumstance, in the moment. Not too much, not too little, but just enough needed. We train to align our entire being to answer the challenge at hand. We handle whatever is in front of us. In my personal opinion, we need our entire being onboard, ever aligned.

Around the obstacle
Through the obstacle and threat
By redirecting
By patiently waiting 
By using the energy of that obstacle or threat

Whatever is needed as you retreat to get a glimpse of the situation at hand. The larger picture in front of you, your intention still moving beyond. Our emotions about ourselves will eventually catch up. They always do.

Life will always happen, but we can always maintain forward momentum if we so intend. 

Stay safe and warm wishes,
Tami Daun

Take the goalie out! Timing, the mathematical absolute

Think about it.

You're a coach, and your team is down by one goal. The clock is running.

With 6 minutes and 10 seconds left on the clock, you pull your goalie. Six to five for 6 minutes and 10 seconds, full on attack.

Why? To maximize your chances of winning. 
It's crazy.
It's unthinkable.
Nobody does it.
"What is the turning point, in terms of time left, at which the losing team’s chances of scoring in the few remaining moments, have gotten so low that swapping the goalie gives them a better chance at a result (despite the risks involved), than continuing with five attackers? "
Six minutes and ten seconds...
(hockey-loving mathematicians, Clifford Asness and Aaron Brown. NYU)

I've tried, but I cannot let it go. I ran across the following article about a month ago, and it keeps spinning in my mind. 

So. I need to churn it out, get it out, and my wish is to expand on a couple of thoughts and ideas.

First of all, give this fascinating article a quick read. Kudos to the author, Maarten van Doorn.
"Why You're Not Taking Enough Risks"

Why do I find it fascinating as a teacher of martial arts? Simply, because I love strategy and I love bold strategy, even more. Especially when it's well-calculated. Yes, it is hockey-based, but the ideas are multidimensional, and across-the-board applicable. 

I bow to the logical reasoning in the latter part of the article as to 'why' coaches dare not take such a risk. Yet, scroll up to the mathematical calculation in the article. 
Genius. In order for it to work, a coach would have to ensure its success more often times than not, for it to gain any statistical significance.

Let's take a look at a few ideas:

  • Firstly, never underestimate the element of surprise and its power over the opponent. Shock and awe. Sun Tzu just smiled from his grave. 
  • Secondly, never knowing when and which game such a strategy would be executed creates mental stress for opponents. Can they handle it physically? Do they have the will to win?
  • The question needs to be posed, 'How many mistakes would the opponent potentially make in this chaotic reaction of stress, and even though they have attempted to prepare for occurrence probability?". Does it lead to penalties as a consequence where the ice matrix suddenly becomes six to four, for example?
  • Risk management not only lies in the calculation. It also lies in the preparation and training of the athletes. The athletes executing the strategy have to be trained to maximize the opportunity. Six minutes of chaotic high-speed attack to minimize the seconds used on defense demands; physical endurance, mental calmness, preparedness. To correlate this idea to a concept, think of it as a type of, 'specialty team'. It depends on who you have on the ice.
Does this calculation ensure success in and by itself? Of course it doesn't. A plan and training need to fall into place in order to increase that probability. Yet, the thought of maximizing the chances of winning, is better than losing by a safe margin in order for the coach to 'save face'.

So, coaches must ask themselves which working objective they follow.

"You can only win when you attack. You cannot win when you defend" 
-Grandmaster William Cheung, Wing Chun martial arts-

The boldness of the strategy lights my fire. 
The development of sport or any other endeavor often suffers from plateaus where a lot of shuffling of existing resources and components happen, and it is ho-hum boring. This line-up, that whatever.

Can you imagine any coach that had the Cahonies to make it work? Let's make that a big, 'C'.

I can almost guarantee they would brand their name in the industry. They would be recognized for developing their sport. They would challenge everyone else to step up to the plate, and beyond. And it's all about the fundamentals.

About development and cross-study:

Excellent lifetime martial artists and coaches seek to develop their styles and art. Yet, they know that development is always derived from basic fundamentals. You can't just go making up new, weird stuff.

Individual martial artists dive into the depths of fundamentals to increase their skill and understanding. Teachers study other disciplines in order to expand their minds, and for inspiration. They cross-study. At least, they should. It leads to development of the artist, and aids teachers in transmission of their respective art to their students. 

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, a Yang style Grandmaster, researcher, and author of several publications dedicated to teaching, once stated that true mastery of the straight sword, in application, is that beautiful one offensive strike that ends the duel. The perceptional and sensory patience to wait for the perfect opening and reduce the use of defensive tactics, while the opponent exhausts themselves in the fight, is what the practitioner of the straight sword trains for in the depths of fundamentals. 

My own Teacher, Blue Siytangco in Houston Texas, always encourages cross-study. He has often talked about searching for the fundamentals in other styles, understanding them and knowing your opponent. Study them, go deeper. 

  • Development, expertise, and the win should always supersede the fear and ego of the leader. 
  • The risk to dare when the risk is already reduced to calculated manageable uncertainty with practice and training, is a no-brainer.
A precious six minutes and ten seconds. 
Such a long haul. And yet, such a short span of time.

The inspiration doesn't stop with hockey. How can you apply it to your current challenge in life, or work? Where is your ego in overdrive? What is realistic, and what is fear-driven? Where are you using excessive energy in defensive mode? Think about it...Take your goalie out.

Stay safe and warm wishes,
Tami Daun

The Enemy Within. Commitment versus confidence

If you listen closely to people, you will hear them say that they would commit to certain endeavors if/when they feel a certain amount of confidence to ensure some success.

I find this quite ironic. Granted, from the principles of mental toughness and success, both are important. 

Yet, when we begin with issues of confidence, we run the risk of never feeling confident enough. Confidence is full of excuses, and it is greatly influenced by the ebb and flow of life. The caveat being that we may never feel confident enough, for all you perfectionists out there.

Lean in, and listen up. Let's take it a little deeper. 
Consider that minor inch-shift in mentality

Ultimately, confidence is a function of what?

Ultimately, confidence runs the danger of being the function of Ego. When leading an endeavor, ego is that false self that measures 'good enough', 'better than', 'measures of success'. If this is the starting point, I can guarantee y'all that it will lead wayside.
Why? Simply because too many of our ideas revolving around these issues are tainted by our blind spots of conditioning and self-esteem. Confidence is a buzz word in our Western societies.

So, is confidence vital in maintaining endurance? Of course it is, when placed and used correctly. But it cannot be the starting point in daring to take those first steps.

We have a term in martial arts and in Chinese martial arts, we talk about 'Yi' (loosely translated as intent) or Yi-zhi, meaning will and intention. 
Just for a moment, view this concept as another way to express commitment. 

When we open our minds and commit to anything, we override a large aspect of our confidence issues. We decide. We intend. We decide to make something happen, and that will mean learning and adjustments along the way. Yes, we need a certain amount of confidence to keep at it, but nothing can stop a strong intent, willpower, commitment. 
It means the commitment to say, "This is what I am going to do, and I will figure it out".

As we take those steps of small successes, confidence is built lending fuel to take it to a greater level. 

Tell Ego to step aside, and commit.

I don't care what it is. You decide:

A career endeavor
A health goal
A fitness goal
A team goal. Work, friendships, relationships, or athletics.
A personal development goal
A crises, health or otherwise in life

When the commitment is made cultivate an open mind to remain aware and receptive to opportunities that lead to steps of success. It is a much more efficient way to succeed. If we focus too heavily on our confidence issues, we remain stuck there. 

If you're a team player at work or otherwise, commitment to the highest objective takes the ego out of the way, abolishing selfishness and lends loyalty to win.

The greatest fuel combined with commitment? We'll cover that soon in a future post.

Want to know more? Want to learn how?
Contact us at Solborg 

Stay safe and warm wishes,
Tamera Daun