note: in this video I am striking with a kubotan in my hand.
If you saw me after my last Tae Kwon Do testing, with my wrist in a cast, you would not read any further. Yes, I punched cement and the cement won. Only it wasn’t a normal concrete block; the one I attempted, unwittingly, was reinforced. It’s constructed to be unbreakable - and you know what? It is. Had my block been normal concrete, I would have punched through it, as I had in the past, as if it was butter. Okay, not butter - something crispier and with more crumbs.
Why would anyone do that? I do it because I can. It’s a brain training exercise. It’s about understanding mind over matter. This doesn't always work. Ask my friend who just attempted a mind-over-matter walk over a path of hot coals. There wasn't a happy ending. She had major burns on her poor feet. But unlike coals, which I know nothing about - punching through a concrete slab is a matter of physics, focus and will.
The first thing to remember is the idea of dispersal. You are applying force. Energy can be focused on a small space thereby increasing the force; or, it can be spread over a large space dispersing the force. Think of this in terms of high-heeled shoes. A high-heeled shoe will leave a little dimple in a wooden floor where a flat heel will not. The smaller you can get your strike - the more successful you will be.
Second, the goal is not to aim for the cement. The cement creates the top of a table and two blocks create the legs. This gives room for the strike to follow through and for the debris to fall to the side. The aim, as in all punches, is not the point of contact but the other side of the contact. Ignore the cement and try to punch the floor. If you are aiming for the floor, your force will not stop when it feels cement - your force will drive further down towards your intended goal and the cement will break on the way.
Okay - why write about this? First for people trying to reach a goal...The goal is an end point. What can you see on the other side? What happens next? If you aim for what comes next - the other side of your goal, you have to pass through your point of intention on the way. The point of intention can look big, daunting, and undoable, but if it’s just a point along the way, it looses its overwhelming quality. Do you think I really want to punch cement? No - it looks impassable. (and if it’s reinforced it is indeed impassable). It is daunting; because of this, I would flinch, hesitate, and hold back. If I had any of these reactions, there is no way that my fist is going through that cement. I will probably just end up hurting myself.
As a writer how can I apply this? Breaking cement is what I think about when people tell me they have writers block. I don’t personally believe in writers block. I think that the aim is too shallow, and that’s why the writing isn’t swinging through. Try not aiming for the block - don't keep punching at an impassable object. Instead, put a word or two in to hold the place and aim for the floor. The floor here being the completed project. I bet as you swing through, towards the goal, that the block will crumble.
And what about the idea of concentrated force? Writers that I know are tweeting, blogging, reading, writing, researching… doing too much? Maybe trying physics would be helpful. Dispersing force, from a physics stand-point, is ineffectual. What I have learned in punching cement is that I should focus on a small target. The smaller the strike area, the more focused energy. When I am writing my manuscripts, I take a vacation from interruption. I aim my focus to the other side of the goal. I take a deep breath, and I strike through. You might want to try this technique. I bet you'll crush it!