Many of you know about my 100-board break to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital a few years ago, but you may not know that it was one of the hardest things I have endured in terms of the physicality of the event.   I’ve broken many boards in my 40 years of Taekwondo training.  Some were easy and some were hard.  For the most part, for this event of breaking 100 boards, I knew it was going to hurt and I knew I was going to be practicing mind over matter.  Some of the boards were simply just very hard pieces of wood.  I hit them and they just hit me back.  During the event I was never afraid I would not finish but I was starting to worry my body would give out.  I was smashing boards and planning on how to finish breaking them if my arms stopped working.  Every time one broke I breathed a sigh of relief and then went on to the next board.

“Just keep moving”, is what I told myself.  

Don’t think about how it feels, just keep moving.  I think this is probably what endurance athletes or people in those “I Shouldn’t Have Survived” TV shows must say to themselves.  Many people have asked how you prepare for something like this.  Well, I knew I could break boards with my elbow strikes but what I needed to practice was my mental strategy.  I made a decision.  I was going to do it.  There was no turning back. It was really that simple.

When you challenge yourself, you learn things about yourself and when you make it through, your confidence just soars. I have recently been made aware of this lesson again as I have been teaching my Ultimate Self-Defense class. We spoke about what to do if you do find yourself in a situation where you must defend yourself; first you must have already made the decision that you will not be a victim and that you will not give up until you are safe.

Again, have the mindset, “Just Keep Moving.”

I hope as new challenges arise for me, I will remember how strong the mind, my mind, can be and then use that strength to my advantage. Make yourself a promise today that in the hard times, whatever the challenge, you will persevere and “Just Keep Moving!” All it takes is making it through something difficult once to give you confidence that you can do anything you set your mind, too.

With encouragement
Amanda Olson

Life Lessons from a Master Martial Artist

Master Instructor with 40 years experience in Taekwondo

Master Amanda Olson




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Amanda Olson