Beyond Belief?

Belief can be a complex thing…it is born out of competence and in the case of Taekwon-Do, physical prowess. To believe in yourself in Taekwon-Do or in any of the martial arts and physical arts, you need to be and feel physically strong, flexible and also have solid technique. That’s not disputable. Being at your physical best then lends itself to feelings of confidence in the art and that in turn creates a self fulfilling prophecy. So what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do you get better physically therefore believe mentally or believe mentally and therefore get better physically?
Both. Rhetoric.
It’s not just about being better physically, it comes down to how these two things feed into your ability to ‘perform’, and that’s what it is about, how you ‘perform’…your mental and physical performance are not mutually exclusive, they work hand in glove, it’s peas and corn, salt and pepper, it’s the sun in the shine, you need them both to win…what good is physical capability without mental faith, you will still lose…and what is the good of the right mental attitude if you have a physical deficit? You need both…You must work on both…you must simultaneously work on your physical body and your Taekwon-Do skills while working on your mental attitude as the are inextricably linked.
To work only on your physical skills is a waste of time, but do not solely work in the mental realm, it is a drain and will get you nowhere. Success is born of the capacity to work tirelessly on both your physical self while nurturing your mental fortitude too.
The psychology of belief and of wining and losing is an iceberg and this is a single snowflake of the tip of the tip.
Rafael Nadal has lost his fair share of matches but losing a match does not a bad tennis player make. Unless he believes it so.


The Wind Beneath Their Arms

They would hangout in groups of just two

Always knowing just what to do

They’d watch the tide drop

Standing still on their rock

Like a well-carved and living statue.


I would watch them watching the ocean

While applying my sun tanning lotion

They would stand and not speak

For not hours but weeks

Like under the spell of some potion.


Often they did not even walk

But just watched the water like hawks

Then soared way above

The ocean they loved

While I stared and speechlessly gawked.


It was weird to see them just fly

Way up high like the birds in the sky

But they flew and they flew

Above the deep blue

Flapping their arms and going so high.


I once saw these people who could fly

That’s not true, I’m telling a lie

How I wish that they could

But they stood and they stood

Then dramatically pointed at the sky.

Awood © 2014

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All photos taken by me and published with consent of the subject.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

No doubt you have heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’, and in the performance world what you put in your mouth and ultimately your body really makes a difference to how well you perform.  Knowing your macro and micro needs is important to optimum health and performance success.  However, what we feed our mind is equally as important in terms of performance.  What you put into your head is just as vital to a successful performance, in any field.  So how do you monitor your mental macro and micro needs?  How do you ensure that your ‘brain food’ is providing you with all of your mental nutritional needs?

Recently when I filled out my amateur sponsored athlete profile sheet at the Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre I was asked to provide a motivational quote. The very nature of who I am dictates that I have a bucket load of quotes in my head about various things like motivation (yes, I’m that annoying), and the quote that I used was by Bruce Lee, ‘Strength does not come from physical capacity it comes from an indomitable will’.

Yeah I know, a Taekwon-Do practitioner choosing a Bruce Lee quote is pretty cliched but he’s not just a martial arts legend, he’s a beacon of light for people in general, and his philosophy towards motivation is mental focus, which is the point.

Indomitable will.  The unshakeable mental fortitude that you cannot be defeated or subdued.  An egoless thought that you can win.

Grand Master Paul Cutler
ACE Taekwon-Do (Pic ITFLINE.ORG)

You can train as much and as well as you want, eat healthy pure foods and still be vulnerable to a loss based purely on your mental attitude.  Attitude is key.  Remember the saying ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right’?  It’s that.  And more.  Just as you don’t  suddenly wake up one day fat or fit, you don’t just suddenly wake up one morning and go from a state of mental negativity to one of positivity, you have to work at it.  You have to munch on mental mangoes, not French fries (no offence to French fries, I love the French, Paris is my favourite major city in the world, Bonjour Paris, Je t’aime).

The things you consume every single day make big differences to your performance.  Negativity perpetuates negativity and the same goes for positivity.  A bad kick does not mean you are a bad Taekwon-Do practitioner.  A loss doesn’t make you a bad athlete. Unless you constantly say that it does.

Arthur Ashe, legendary American Tennis player of old said, “One important key to success is self-confidence.  An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” In the Army, where you need incredible mental strength, they follow the 5Ps of Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance and we’ve all heard, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.

Physical and mental preparation is key to success.

So let’s prepare our mind, this is what I munch on:

1. Mix with the right people – you are who you hang with, don’t hang with naysayers and negative people because it will rub off

2. Use motivational quotes and signs – pin them around your bathroom, bedroom and have them constantly on your phone

3. Meditate – things like sleep, rest, yoga, hitting the beach, baths and shower, spending time with nature or your cat/ dog

4. Physical – Keep up-to-date with your training program, exercise releases endorphins making you feel good

5. Food – eat well, it makes you look good and feel sexy

6. Visualisation – go step by step through a successful version of your event, from 5 minutes before it to the gold medal presentation

7. Gratitude – Being thankful keeps you in a perpetual state of positivity, everyday write down 5 or more things you are stoked about

8. Get it out – purge yourself of negative thoughts, write ’em down, get ’em out, rip ’em up, process the poor food out of your mind

9. Positive Affirmations – write things down, type them up, use the 3 Ps – Positive words,  Present tense and the Personal ‘I’

10. Listen to Motivational CDs – Invest in Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey, Norman Vincent Peale – WOW

When I was working towards the world championships I changed every single password I had (and there were a lot) to “Champion2012” to keep reminding myself of my potential to win and I regularly wrote down “I am a Taekwon-Do world champion”, on paper, in my phone, in my head; that’s not all I did.  I worked really hard.

What you eat and what you think will largely determine your success or failure, so get the right physical and mental macros and micros.  Give yourself the greatest chance to succeed by consuming the good stuff, because you are what you think.

Hellthy [sic] to healthy [not sick]

When you are preparing for a competition, whether it’s as a coach or an athlete, optimum health is, well, optimum.

Sometimes the stress of preparation, and let’s face it, overtraining, can weaken the body and compromise the immune system making you vulnerable to all sorts of bugs.  When you are in the middle of comp prep and this happens it is very stressful and a day or two off training can feel like a week and will make you feel weak both physically and mentally.  We feel we are letting our club, our coach, the people we are training down and these thoughts are very dangerous to our mental preparation and conditioning.

So how do we stay healthy and in peak condition or at least minimise the impact of a bug in our system?

Food as medicine, this is what I do.  *Disclaimer go to the doctor, I am not a doctor, go see a naturopath, I am not a naturopath.

Water water water, drink it, loads of it.  You can put fruit and herbs in it to get extra nutritional benefit if you want but just make sure you are up to your eyeballs in H2O.  Don’t forget baths and showers, the meditative benefits of both are very therapeutic.

Sleep.  Catch some zzzzzzzzs.  Often.  Rest is a part of a good training program in general but is crucial when you are trying to heal.  Plus it really is a fantastic form of meditation.

ACV. I also try and get a teaspoon or two of good quality, unprocessed organic Apple Cider Vinegar to help detox the body.  Put a teaspoon in a glass of water a couple of times a day, simple as that.

Swallow garlic.  Get a small garlic clove and down it like a pill.  The therapeutic benefits of garlic are well documented.

Red meat.  Iron.  This helps to create a strong immune system, I go straight for mince and make a Bolognese and stack it with garlic.  Salmon and Turkey will increase your white bloods cells too which is key to immunity.  There are vego options too.

Vitamin C.  An antioxidant that fights free radicals and acts like a scavenger in your body getting rid of any nasties.  I casually throw back a 2 litre bottle of OJ in about 5 hours to saturate my system when I’m not well.  Vit C is also in capsicum, leafy greens, broccoli etc.

Juice.  Invest in a juicer and go crazy.  It’s the very best way to get all the micro nutrients your body needs straight into your blood.  There are a million great websites with a million more recipes but one of my staples is celery, cucumber, spinach, beetroot, carrot, green apples, lime and ginger.

Sunshine.  Get outside and soak in some vitamin D, great for the body, great for the mind.

Obviously as we all know there is no cure for the common cold or the influenza virus so prevention is your first line of attack.  Eat healthy, keep your stress levels under control and balance great training with adequate rest for recovery.

If, however, you do still succumb to a bug, try the above, it can certainly lessen the severity of the symptoms.  I’m also an advocate of tea made with hot water, lemon, honey, ginger and a splash of whiskey…and a sneaky bit of chocolate too, because as I said, it’s not just about physical health, but mental and emotional health too and chocolate is good for the soul.

Stay healthy.




That’s right, we are off to Spain.  In our heads we have already fallen in love with Barcelona, eaten too many olives and gasped in awe as our toes were licked by the Mediterranean Sea…we are yearning to touch down in Madrid.

Yes, I said yearning.

Last year Jasmine worked really hard and received an RSL grant for her academic and sporting achievements and what better way to use the grant than to attend a prestigious international taekwon-Do competition in Spain.  I’m privileged to be going with her.Image

The Open Aragon Championships in Zaragoza are hosted by multiple world champion and all round beautiful man Mr Christian Oriolani, 5th degree. In its 8th year, the Aragon Championships have already proven to be a popular competition destination for the world’s best ITF Taekwon-Do practitioners.  No Australians have been before, I guess this makes us the first.  Very sexy being the first.

Right now we are working hard on kicking combos and drills because we aren’t going there to lose, we are going there to punch and kick our way to gold medal glory, with love and good sportsmanship of course.

First stop, mental preparation.  As Bruce Lee said, “strength does not come from a physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will”.    We have to get our competition minds in order, we have to know we are in with a shot.

Next stop, pad work.

Desearnos suerto.

It’s Spanish, look it up.  🙂


Sunday Bloody Sunday

Traditionally, Sunday is known as a ‘day of rest‘, yet often it’s the only day you have to catch up on all things annoying. And when I say annoying I mean housework and homework and the like.  So maybe I should restate and say really bloody annoying things;  But as we all know, sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do to get where you want to go, usually these things are a necessary evil.  To live a life of balance and have it all – a productive Sunday and a restful one – I guess you have to be both passive and active.  So today, after a long brisk sit (I mean it’s the day of rest after all right?)  I hit the spa and the sauna for a meditation and stretch, well I sat in a spa and unwound so that’s good enough to qualify as a meditation in my eyes, and then I had a long, luxurious, sweaty stretch, 70 minutes of relaxing bliss yet a ‘workout’ none-the-less. To me Sunday is such a sacred day, it’s my chance to reset, recharge and prepare for the week ahead, so today I made my own nutrient water.Image

A cool refreshing watermelon and mint concoction that not only rehydrates me after my Sunday sauna but also helps to detox me and replenish vital nutrients. Ah bliss.

OK, end bliss…housework time!

New Year – 2014


Found this great training singlet that I saw on social media and I thought “YES”…it’s so easy to get caught up in the kick punch of Taekwon-Do and forget all of the other stuff – people want to be hardcore, win comps or grade – but when you look deeply into why you started the art/ sport (and for every 50 people there will be 50 different reasons as to why people start) you will probably find that whatever reason it was, at some point you have realised that the magic of Taekwon-Do is in the art itself.  It’s far more than self defence and patterns and sparring!  It’s in the way you live. That’s enough of that…let’s train.  Image