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to do it, just do it

August 5, 2021

Today I’m thinking about what it takes to change.

Years ago I trained and competed in Muay Thai kickboxing. An essential component of doing martial arts well is having great footwork. You have to be in the right place at the right time for anything you do to be effective. Where you put each foot matters. How much weight you place onto each foot matters. How you transfer weight from one foot to the other matters.

One of my coaches (Danny) was teaching us an advanced punch-kick combination. To do it right, our footwork had to be just so. Specifically, mid-way through the combo, we had to angle to the right and end up slightly off center relative to our opponent, so we wouldn't be where they'd expect.

But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t get to where I needed to be.

Now, it bears mentioning that there are often very real reasons in fighting why you can’t seem to go where your mind tells you to go. One major reason has to do with weight distribution: if you need to move a foot, and most of your weight happens to be on that foot, then you will have a hard time moving that foot. I thought that perhaps poor weight distribution was my problem and that Danny would be able to see what I couldn't feel.

So I told Danny, in frustration, “I can’t do it, and I can’t figure out why.”

“Show me,” he said.

So I tried again on my training partner, but I just couldn’t end up to where I needed to be.

I kept trying the move, with Danny watching. But I kept failing.

“See?!” I said. “I can’t do it! And I don’t know why!”

Danny walked over to where my foot should have been. “Just move your foot here,” he said, pointing to the precise spot on the floor.

“But I can’t,” I said. "I think something's off."

“Just move it,” he said.

I tried again. I failed.

“I don't get what I'm doing wrong!” I said. I felt increasingly frustrated. I was convinced there was a bigger problem. A complicated problem. I couldn't understand why he wasn't interested in looking for it.

He paused for a moment, looked into my eyes intently, and said slowly, “You just move it... here.” He pointed again to the spot on the floor.

And then it hit me. He wasn't ignoring a bigger problem. There was no bigger problem. I just had to choose to move my foot, and I just wasn't making that choice. I was caught in a mental glitch.

So I did the move again, except this time I did it very slowly. And… when I needed to... remarkably… I purposefully moved my foot exactly to where it needed to go.

That day I realized that change doesn't always have to involve some big thing. Some changes are hard, tricky, and complex. But some only feel that way.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you just have to choose to "move it."

That is all.

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