All I could do was watch as the ball sailed into the air spinning top over tail, up and up it rose. I had put everything into this kick, if i was finally going to nail it, surely this was the time. My line was always good but after coming back into rugby after many years out, i couldn’t get the distance i was used to. As i stood near the side line willing the ball to sail through the posts i knew it had the angle, but did it have the legs? Just as the many recent kicks from this distance the answer was, no. The ball heading straight between the posts dropped out the sky like a sack of potatoes and fell short by some 5 yards.
Before the ball had hit the ground I knew it didn’t have the length and I wondered, was I just too old? I had tried every trick in the book but I just didn’t have the same power as before. So back to the training ground I went. To be honest i had lost hope that I could get back to my best, I felt like the many aged golfers who have resigned themselves to dropping down a couple of club lengths knowing that they have to rely on their accuracy to keep par, as those long shots that rolled on to the green for a birdie chance, were long gone.
One day I was talking to a martial artist who was going on and on about his chi and his efforts to channel all his energy into a single punch to achieve the ‘1 inch punch’. For those that don’t know what the 1 inch punch is, it is a punch that has so much force that it knocks your opponent over, but the challenge is you have to start your punch from 1 inch away from your subjects chest. We talked for a long time debating the power of energy flow and how we could open our mind and body to harness the natural energy fields, concentrate them, and direct them into a single movement. And then it hit me. I truly understood why they are could martial artists and not martial athletes. Their commitment to allow their chi to flow through their body bypassing the conscious brain was similar to all those musicians, painters and many other artists who commit to their own trance and chi allowing magical songs and pictures to be born.
So I started to build on my own chi before taking my kicks. I took time to meditate and feel the energy throughout my body. i started to feel and connect with an energy outside myself. i meditated on using my body as a channel for this energy flow, funelling it into my leg, ready to explode through my foot a split second after it made contact with the ball. It took me hours and hours, day after day of mental preparation to feel this energy flow and believe i could transfer this energy through my body and into the ball. finally i had it, i’m not sure it was chi but i had something that was going to make a difference, so back to the kicking ground I went.
Within 10 kicks I nailed it! I stood in amazement as the ball sailed between the posts all the way from the touch line. I couldn’t believe It! It took me about an hour of preparation before I took those ten kicks, which is a long time and unpractical in competition, but I knew if I could reach that state of energy flow once, over time i could reduce that 60 minutes to a 30 sec preparation ritual. I was stoked, I finally felt like a door had opened and anything was possible. I had a glimpse of understanding of how so many ‘super human feats’ could be achieved.
“Be water, my friend” – Bruce Lee
This quote from a true master can be taken in many ways. I like to think he was saying: empty your mind and connect with the endless energy source around us, here we will find our true power.
Martial artists are often associated with harnessing energy in their practise and performances. All top performers tap into this energy flow at some point or another, whether they know it or not. Connecting and harnessing with this energy potential, can help our body to increase our kinetic energy flow, and create powerful results and achieve impossible feats.
Our energy levels within our body is very much like a rechargeable battery. When filled with energy we hold great potential, when running on empty we burn out and certain functions stop working. Even if we use our energy and our battery is half full, we can still perform at a high level in the knowledge that we will need recharging soon. The more energy we use the more we need recharging. If we give our power away we will not hold our vibrancy. If we are drained of energy, our body will simply not be able to perform and produce moments of flow.
Understanding our own body’s energy levels allows us to manage our peak performance periods. This is why great performers continuously manage their energy before, during and after performances. Whether it is taking 10 seconds out to take a deep breath, or going through a pre performance ritual to charge up their battery, great performers know that managing their energy levels are key to driving their states of flow.
Learning how to control the energy within our body can have huge impacts. Studies show that olympic caliber athletes produce greater amounts of slower (delta) brain wave activity, suggesting that they have more blood flow in critical parts of their brains. By learning how to control these energy waves, we can alter our performance. Free divers have done this by learning to control the energy of thier blood flow. Like dolphins, they send blood to protect the vital organs when the body is under immense pressure, allowing the vital organs to function when they would otherwise collapse resulting in severe consequences, such as death. This is just one example of how managing our energy can manifest into unbelievable results.
People in flow often say they feel super human, as if a different energy flowed through their body. Just as martial artists use chi to achieve the unconceivable one inch punch, when in flow it is likely we our tapping into something deeper than our usual energy levels. Understanding our energy allows us to experience these moments with greater intensity and frequency, helping us to reach a state of flow for sustained periods as opposed to fluke ‘one off’ moments.
When we manage our own energy levels and begin to open ourselves up and harness the surrounding, it is important we are selective of the energies we choose to let in. A lot of negative energy exists around us, and many people or things thrive on extracting our positive energy.
Similarly our own states affect our flow of energy. Anger, anxiety, stress and sadness can quickly drain our batteries and reduce our chances of flow. A performer who spends thier final preperation minutes anxious and stressing over the perfections of their routine is unlikely to produce moments of flow. It is very common and easy to be wasting our precious energy in unnecessary worries and emotions we could otherwise let go off. Our awareness and quick intervention of this process, can have huge impacts in helping to recharge our battery and provide a platform for flow.
Imagine your energy levels as a rechargable battery. Take an inventory 4 times throughout the day, writing down the % you believe your battery is charged at. In each inventory write down any factors/situations/people you believe have helped to charge your battery and increase your energy or drain your battery and reduce your energy.
Carry out this inventory on 4 different days and compare notes to see whether there are any patterns that are reducing or increasing your energy.
Before your next training session, practise connecting with the positive energy that surrounds us. During meditation or a quiet moment ask your body to accept any surrounding positive energy. Stay with this practise for as long as you need to until you feel a ball of positive energy inside you that you can use in your performance.