The other side of the board


“Come on, you can do it!  Break the board!  Break the board!!“

My best friend Jeff Bagby was coaching me on martial arts in the basement of his house in Kokomo, Indiana. It was the early 70’s and Kung Fu was at its popularity peak, fueled by primetime TV shows, movies and comic books.  I was looking for a little self-defense insurance.

I lined up my arm and gently touched the piece of scrap wood with the base of my palm.

Jeff held it firmly between his outstretched and locked arms.  “Come on, break the board!”

I stared at the wooden surface as I rotated my torso and retracted my arm.  I screamed out “Hie-yahhhh!!” as I punched forward as fast as I could.

I screamed out “Yee-oucchh!!!” as my hand bounced off the board, sending a shockwave of pain up through my shoulder.

“OK… OK. Here’s what you’re doing wrong.” Jeff patiently explained.

“You are focusing too much on the surface of the board. You have to focus on a spot 12 inches on the other side and punch THROUGH the board, not AT it.”

He held it out once again, and I visualized punching through all the way to his stomach (which would be a nice payback after the pain he just put me through.)  I took a deep breath, pulled back, let loose and CRACK!!  The board split as I almost fell forward into coach Jeff.  My disbelief turned into a satisfying smile.  Nobody was going to mess with ME on the school bus!

Funny how these little defining moments stick with us.  Sometimes when I’m having trouble breaking through an obstacle in my life now, I try to visualize what it will be like after I succeed.  I picture what it will look like on the other side of that board.  Then I stop punching AT the problem and punch through it instead. After all, seeing is believing.  And if I am not able to really SEE my success in advance, I don’t really BELIEVE it in advance.

Are you having trouble getting through an obstacle in your life? Maybe try adjusting your vision beyond the short-term and focus on where you will be after you succeed. Trust me… it makes it a lot easier to break through.

Explore posts in the same categories: Motivation

12 Comments on “The other side of the board”

  1. Larry Says:

    Great metaphor, David. Thanks for sharing. Now, I’ll think of you every time I punch through one of my obstacles! (-;

  2. Roland Says:

    Some years ago, Katie, my middle daughter, had her annual “Parents’ Day,” and I was elected to represent that part of Katie’s life. With my Asian background, and Katie’s half of that, I decided to bring into our little chat some form of cultural flavor.

    At the school, in front of many parents and kids, I placed a board across two chairs, and easily split the board with a knife-hand. Then I placed a little smaller board across the chair, and asked Katie to step forward and do the same. We had rehearsed this previous to the demo, and she was fairly confident. In powering her hammer-fist through the board, there were cheers and oohs and aahs from the crowd. They were quite impressed.

    The big deal was with Katie, though. She was the talk of the class, and one parent said, “That’s one young lady that the guys aren’t going to mess with!”

    Now, anyone in the room could have been coached through that same board breaking. But since it was Katie, she is the one who benefitted most. Huge smiles for the rest of her day – that was the viewable result. What happened inside was that she discovered a part of herself…

    …maybe similar part of herself that you discovered about you in a basement in Kokomo, Indiana.


    • davidgoad Says:

      Roland, thanks. I can picture Katie being so proud of her breakthrough moment (and proud of her dad too!)

  3. Jeff G Says:

    Ah yes, the Bagby dojo. His fathers training and involvement in Martial Arts certainly trickled down to young “sensei Bagby”. Who could have known that those “mind over matter” sessions of him trying to teach us to break anything we could get our hands on, could follow us through life. Young Jeff certainly fully committed to each and every attempt, while seldom achieving the desired result. I always admired the dogged determination, almost always in the face of overwhelming odds. But when it did break, the satisfaction was overwhelming!

  4. Sherry Temby Says:

    First of all, you have helped me today.
    Thank you.
    I needed to here what your blog had to say. I appreciate your insightful writing.

    OMG! Bagby was your martial arts teacher?
    You learn something new EVERYDAY.
    Wonder where he is now?

    • davidgoad Says:

      Sherry, glad you found value in the words!
      Jeff Bagby is still a good friend and lives in Kokomo. He works for Chrysler. Married with a son named David

  5. Jeff Bagby Says:

    I even remember the comic book. Thanks for the memories. Dave.

    Hey, I’m still around and kicking. I just don’t kick boards any more.

    Jeff G. – I wouldn’t mind exchanging some emails and catching up. Maybe David can send me an address for you. And Sherry seems to know me, but I am afraid I don’t recognize the name. Dave, your blog always inspires me; just like you always did. And yes, you were in my thoughts when I named my son David.


    • davidgoad Says:

      Sherry Temby is formerly Sherry Scott from Western. She was in my French class, Art class, English class, played French horn in the band, etc. A good artist and big Garfield fan back in the day.

  6. jeff G Says:

    referring to “Young Jeff Bagby” of course.

  7. Nate Merit Says:

    EXCELLENT metaphor and life advice David! I had the exact same experience with my Dad. Deja vu.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: