Hit Your Target
Every martial artist knows that you can’t be successful in sparring or in a real fight unless you can hit your targets. As basic as it sounds, before you can try to hit your target you need to know what the target is. Learning the different places to strike is a fundamental of most martial arts. The essence of being an effective striker is to first know your target, then work toward achieving your goal of hitting that area with proper force and placement. If you aren’t getting through the opponent’s defense, adjust your strategy until you find an opening.
Now imagine that you are in a fight with a worthy opponent, but you are blindfolded. This poses a big problem. Besides all of the defensive problems, you can’t see your targets. Unless you get inside where you may be able to use your sense of touch to guide you toward the vulnerable points, you will be swinging wildly towards goals that you can’t see. I don’t think any of us would knowingly go into a serious situation against a good striker blindfolded, but many people live daily with a scenario that is even worse.
How are you going to be successful in you everyday life if you don’t even have any goals. Think about it. If you went into a fight against an alien creature that looked nothing like a human being, what would you aim at? It has no eyes, throat, or groin. You can’t see any solar plexus. What would you do? You would probably start hitting at different areas to see if you get a reaction. In other words, you first try to determine where the good targets are. Most martial artists can tell you where twenty good striking points are on the human body, but they can’t tell you exactly what their goal is in the different aspects of their life.
If this sounds familiar, do yourself a favor right now. Instead of just reading this, take another five minutes to give yourself some direction. Get a pen and paper. I want you to write down your goals. There are a lot of ways to approach this, but try the following. Visualize yourself may years form now when you are about to leave this earth for the next dimension. You are on your deathbed, you’ve lived a great life, and you are ready to go. Now look back on the life that you led. What things have you accomplished that make you fell content? What are you really proud of? Write these things down. Are you proud of your family? Are you happy because you lived your life according to high standards? Was your life work directed toward helping people? Imagine a perfect life and write the most important things down.
The things you have written down are your goals, the works that will make your life as gratifying as possible. Now that you have your major goals, you need to formulate a plan toward reaching the goals. Break the long term goals into smaller sections
that are easier to achieve. It is just like striving for a black belt in a martial art. If a white belt student just looks at the skills and knowledge of the black belts, he or she can get discouraged. The disparity between the new student and the veteran instructor is so great that achieving a black belt seems impossible. That is why successful schools break up the curriculum into more manageable and realistic segments. The student has a short term goal to focus on. After the next belt is reached, another short term goal is set and worked toward. Before you know it, years have passed and the white belt has achieved his or her black belt.
Break you life goals down into similar segments. You can break them down into six month goals, one year goals, or maybe even five year periods. At the end of each term, evaluate your progress and revise your plan for making the next goal date. The main idea is to set a goal, make a plan, keep at your plan, and never give up your dream.
People will occasionally ask me about my goals in martial arts. I break them into two categories; training and teaching. My training goal is to improve in every range every week. This means that I am sure to practice in each range diligently each week. I make sure I take the time to train different attributes such as strength, cardiovascular conditioning, timing, speed, and sensitivity. I get my sparring in a few times per week, and also take the time to drill techniques with great precision. By setting a weekly goal, I don’t let two months pass by without working on one of the areas of combat. If I get an injury, I work around it to keep it from holding me back. I hurt my knee once, so I spent more time working my hands and weaponry. If I hurt my elbow I will spend more time on leg techniques. I keep the practice fun and realistic to ensure that I get as much benefit as possible.
My teaching goal is to build a network of highly qualified instructors so that people all around the world will have access to the Jeet Kune Do concept of complete martial arts training. I used to have a very poor communications system, but I have improved that so now it much easier to reach me and arrange training and guidance. I have benefited so much through the study of marital arts that I want every person who is interested in our field to have the opportunity to train. Whether it is a stock broker in New York or a taxi driver in Bombay, I want to have a good instructor in place to help the student learn martial arts and improve their lives. I will keep working on this for the rest of my life, as I truly believe in the power of martial arts training to enhance the quality of life of the practitioner.
Let me close with some words of wisdom that may guide your through the rough spots towards your goals. Two of my students in Sacramento, California (Bobby and Brenda De Los Santos) recently signed their son Anthony up for classes at the renowned Kovar’s Karate. In his first day Anthony was taught one of the most valuable lessons that he will ever learn. If you ask Anthony what the difference is between a white belt and a black belt, the five year old will recite one of the secrets to success. “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.” Set your goals, make a plan, and work that plan every day, making adjustments when necessary. You will eventually hit your target.
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