Giving 110%

Can you really give 110%?  We hear it all the time:  “Boy, in this fight So-n-So gave 110% and really pulled out a win!”

I know it’s just semantics, but I believe that the fallacy of saying that one gives more than he is capable of putting out creates mental barriers to what one can produce on demand.

Eeeeyup. That was a mouthful. Here is what I mean.

The martial artist is not like the average guy on the street. We are among those who tolerate pain and discomfort regularly. We can place ourselves in situations where most people would give up–or stop. Unlike other athletes, who simply endure the rigors of exercise and fatigue, we engage in an activity where our fellow athletes are trying to inflict pain. Except for a few other sports, like football or boxing, no other sports puts its participants in similar situations. It’s so much more than mere exercise.

We must tolerate pain as well as control other things, like our emotions–anger and fear–and still perform at the top of our game. In the act of fighting, we get few periods of rest, like a baseball player might get. Plus we are moving our whole bodies. And for some reason, after we “play the game”–regardless of how much we have trained–we are not just sore for a few days, we often have injuries and sore in places like our ribs and jaws.

And as all athletes must, we should also master ourselves and our potential. This is where the phrase “110%” can affect what we are capable of doing. See, as fighters, we must be able to push ourselves to the limit. When I have given all I can, and then some, have I really pushed myself “past the limit”? Or have I really just pushed myself to my full potential? See, many fighters really lack the courage and the strength to reach the boundaries of their full capabilities. So, for them it takes an emotional battle or barrier to get them to really stretch themselves to that point. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. My philosophy is that the fighter who must use a dangerous opponent, a championship, money, or an oath to a dying fan to push himself to his full potential has not fully mastered himself. He is only capable of performing at that level when he is emotionally challenged (by fear or courage), but cannot do this on a regular day. We must elevate from this level. In my opinion, this is the reason why we have so many out-of-shape martial artists; many of us simply do not work hard enough, so 100%–true full potential–is difficult to reach.

So, on the rare occasion that one actually pulls an extra mile out of ourselves, we expect to be rewarded and patted on the back for it. That is silly, because how can we improve and expect mastery when we rarely give it our all? I have known martial artists who never perform kata at 100% unless they are actually competing. I have seen fighters who never train for more than 1 round at a time full steam ahead, although they do it when they compete. Can you imagine what they would be capable of doing if they performed at 100% during training? This is what separates the champions from the journeymen. Some men can do the darned thing, but few will do the darned thing well.

I know it’s just lingo, but careful what images and expectations you create in your mind when you use certain terms. Sometimes they actually hinder you.

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