Friday, September 30, 2011

Pushing the limits

It was ten, then twenty, then thirty. It kept increasing by ten until we had hit one hundred push ups at one time. At some point I lost feeling in my arms, but I kept going. When the class was finally over I realized several things;
1)push ups can be very difficult.
2) I was exhausted.
3) Any perceived limitation I thought I had regarding the execution of hundreds of push ups was shattered.

Every time you set foot in a training hall you should push some kind of limit. Whether that limit be physical or mental, you should aspire to move forward or upward, each time. Why should we attempt to push our limits, aren't they in place for our well being? In some cases I would agree. Limits can serve as a governing structure to prevent harm. For example, I don't attempt to jump over moving vehicles accelerating at me in the street. It is a limit of mine, it keeps me safe and intact. This is not to say I haven't thought about it, or haven't seen it done. I have done both, but my internal limit advises me that it is not a prudent course of action, for me.

Pushing your limits forces growth. When the limit is physical it is only matter of convincing your body that you can do whatever it is you seek to do (provided the skill set is present, please don't try and jump moving vehicles) and usually the body follows suit. As in the example above about push ups, I did more than I thought I could ever do. It meant that my body was more than capable of churning out push up after push up far past what I thought was my limit.

Which leads to the other and more important aspect of limits, the mental side. My students constantly hear me say " The moment you quit in your head, your body follows."
This mental aspect is by far the hardest to acquire, it has been called fortitude and heart. It has been defined in various ways by many people. It boils down to not giving up, not giving in and pushing past any limit you may harbor. This is difficult, but not impossible. All of us have internal censors or voices that tell us we can or cannot do something. When you push that limit, you must dictate that you can, despite what anyone else is telling you, sometimes despite what your own body is telling you. This translates directly into your life from the dojo. One of my other favorite sayings is- The only limits that exist in your life-are self imposed. The second you think you cant do something, you cant.

This is why I stress the pushing of limits. We have a tendency to avoid discomfort, to the extent that we create a "comfort zone" and very rarely decide to leave it. Pushing your limits means you have to break out of the comfort zone. It means doing whats necessary, not convenient. It means taking the hard path most of the time. It means discovering how far your body can go taking it to that edge and then further. It means developing mental fortitude and not succumbing to the doubts. It means total commitment.
Is it difficult? Yes very much so, some days it will feel impossible, but it isn't. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
What limits have you pushed today?

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando

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