Back in the in the late 1980s and early 1990s, every Friday night I sparred with an Olympic Tae Kwon Do gold medalist. And it’s an understatement to say that it was arduous training.
His main objective, truly, in every single round, was to knock me out cold – that was his sole purpose. And it wasn’t frowned upon; on the contrary. It was actually encouraged and supported. That was the kind of work we were doing at that time.
There were a lot of times that I’d be hit, dazed to where I couldn’t get my bearings. And in those moments, I would hear my teacher Mr. Vizzio shout from somewhere in the room, “You’re good!!”
Doesn’t sound like much, but it was like magic that brought me right back. A reminder which prompted me to say to myself, “Oh yeah, I’m good!”
Those commands were what enabled me to continue, to keep pushing forward.
That exclamation – “you’re good!” – came across with such authority that it just eradicated the fogginess from my brain. I believed what Mr. Vizzio was saying was right and the word, his command, just chopped down my worry.
So to bring this into the present, the other night he and I were moving together into the 30th repetition of our second 15-technique combination, and I was winded. He was screaming at me as I was on the verge of collapse. Then he once again shouted, “You’re good!” and once again, in that moment, I was again able to tell myself, “I’m OK…I’ve got this now.”
If I could choose one ability to have, like a superpower, it would be this ability: when I don’t feel good, to switch mental gears to a place where I know “I’m good”, and then to demonstrate that.
This was Mr. Vizzio’s message all along, and it’s been effective and true regardless of age. It was true in full contact sparring when I was in my 20s. It was true in jiu-jitsu randori when I was in my 30s. And it’s true in all the martial arts practice I do in my 40s.
To bring forth your best traits when facing pressure and extreme challenges is a reminder that the mind can redirect the body to handle more. It’s a beautiful gift. I’m grateful Mr. Vizzio gave it to me. And I know that the message all along this journey has been (and will remain) – “I’m good.”
– Gene Dunn & Foundation of Love
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