“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The ability to overcome challenges is one of the most important skills one can develop, and tae kwon do is the perfect tool to teach it.
The Korean word for indomitable spirit, naturally translated, means “even if beaten one hundred times, you are still undaunted.” In the physical sense, this meaning is easy to grasp. There are going to be times in tae kwon do when you are struck or knocked down by your opponent or times when you are less than perfect in some part of your performance. But the more you fight to overcome challenges, the more you strengthen your will to succeed.
In a more figurative sense, it means no matter what happens, if you focus on the outcome and your goals, you will not allow your mind and your will to become diminished. This is the best way for you to develop your tae kwon do spirit. How do you do that? First, you must learn to avoid minimization, or giving less than your best. Some people find themselves giving only 60, 70 or maybe 80 percent effort toward a certain task. To avoid this, you need to set up goals and have a clear picture of them, and that way your mind focuses on what you’re supposed to be doing. Then you keep working toward that goal, and eventually you experience a breakthrough or improvement; usually this is the last step you take toward your goal.
For example, if you typically do 100 pushups during your workout, your body already knows it is capable of doing that many. In that case, even though it is beneficial as exercise, it’s not a challenge. But to get to that 101st pushup, you have to push yourself, and it’s a struggle. And when you get there, that’s when you make a breakthrough, and that’s when you know what it means to improve. Hopefully you continue to experience this, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly.
Most people don’t know what it’s like to have this experience on a regular basis. If you enter into something with a goal in mind and you do it just to know you can do it, but you don’t go beyond that, you can’t have a breakthrough. Take your poomsae, for example. You may know the sequence and it looks okay. However, you might not have the stances aligned properly. You might not know how to use your whole body to create maximum power. Many people just want to get by, and then you run into minimization. However, when you put in the time and energy, all these subtle components work together harmoniously. Then you feel great, as if you just hit a home run in baseball as opposed to a base hit, and I know you want the home run. Your body memorizes these experiences, so the next time you face a challenge, your body says, “Hey, you’ve done this many times, you have the know-how, and you can do this.” If you don’t have this knowledge, it will be more difficult to overcome challenges.
Think about how you will feel with a huge reservoir of breakthroughs to build on. And the bigger that reservoir gets, the stronger your indomitable spirit becomes. Remember, there is no way to defeat resiliency, and that’s what it means to have an indomitable spirit.
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