Zen and the art of breaking a bat…

Is it “Mind over Matter” or “Matter over Mind”? In the case of breaking a wooden baseball bat with a kick, it is without a doubt “Mind over Matter.”

Here’s the skinny on breaking a bat. The average amount of force that a wooden baseball bat can withstand at its weakest point is approximately 5000 lbs. The average amount of force that a martial arts roundhouse kick can generate is 4000 lbs, give or take. The amount of force to break one’s leg is approximately 550 lbs…Yikes! That’s 1000 lbs of force in the difference, and not in a good way.

With this information in hand, logic and reasoning would tell us two things. One, that the bat is impossible to break with a single leg kick, and two, that the kicker would most likely break their leg instead. As we know, history has proven that many a Martial Artist has done so successfully. So the million dollar question is, how did they do it?

We have all heard stories about amazing feats of strength and bravery when the power of the mind is fully engaged. Take for instance the story of the 100 lb mother who picked up the back end of a car to free her trapped child. Wouldn’t this defy all logic, science and reasoning?

No thanks to our prehistoric Lizard Brain (the part of the brain called the amygdala) that when faced with what seems illogical or against the laws of science we tend to over evaluate and under react, our Lizard Brain talks us out of what seems like inevitable failure, it then becomes “Matter over Mind”.

When we are faced with situations that require immediate action, our Lizard Brain is slow to evaluate and the true power of the mind kicks in. We then can experience “Mind over Matter”.  The secret is our ability to quell the Lizard Brain.

I like to use this analogy when I talk to my Taekwondo students. “To be successful in competition and in life, it takes 20% physical strength and ability and 80% mental fortitude and belief.” This holds true for anything in life, whether were breaking a bat or writing a blog.

As Bruce Lee once said “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Let’s face it; breaking a bat takes nothing more that believing in your abilities and trusting your strengths.

That’s the Zen.

By: Master Tim Bell


One Response

  1. […] pm – Completed a new blog post – Zen and the art of breaking a bat… 44.637534 […]

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