Him Cho Chung

As often as I can, I like to attend my daughter’s karate lessons. I’m always present for her tests, demonstrations and other events, but I also like to watch at least one practice per week. In the beginning, this was just about observing my daughter’s behavior and other such mundane parental things, but that’s long since passed. She rocks, and she doesn’t do it for me. After the first time she broke a board, I beamingly told her I was proud of her. She didn’t thank me. Instead, wise beyond her years, she said “I’m proud of myself.”

So nowadays, I watch for two reasons. One, because I think it’s important to be an active participant in my child’s adventures. And two, because I’m so freakin’ impressed and fascinated by it all!

Tonight, they deviated from their normal routine a bit to do a really challenging drill. A very light foam block was placed atop a pillar that was about the height of the average kid in her class. The pillar was also pretty light and was not secured to anything. The kids stood on one side, and on the other side a small circle was placed on the ground, directly adjacent to the pillar.

The kids had to use their feet to push the foam block off the pillar and have it land in the circle. They couldn’t knock over the pillar.

“Him Cho Chung” means “Control of Power.”

So picture my daughter. Eight years old. She’s standing on one foot, chambering a kick with her other – but she can’t actually kick, or this super-light foam block will go flying. No, she has to reach out (maintaining her balance so she doesn’t kick over the pillar!) and gently push this foam block over until it slides off the pillar and into the circle on the other side, and then pull her foot back without disrupting the pillar.

They had to repeat this until they could do it three times. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

In our adult lives, we’re rarely bulls in china shops. “Too much power” doesn’t usually mean breaking something (although in some real ways, it can mean that). What it usually does mean for us is more insidious – it means expending resources you didn’t need to. And resources are scarce. If you accomplish a goal with 300% more juice than you needed, that’s a lot wasted. Being able to control your power is synonymous with being able to husband your resources.

Sometimes, as with the drill my daughter did today, controlling your power actually takes more effort than throwing a full-strength (but quick) kick. But that’s because it’s practice. You do it to get good at it, to understand it. And then in life, you do exactly what you need to accomplish your goal, saving the rest in reserve for the next one.

Just like she did when she got all three blocks in the circle.

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