A Fictional First Person Account of a Martial Arts Athlete
by Bryson Johnson
"Charyot. Kyung Nye," the judge commands.
I bow stepping onto the mat. My shoulders are elevated, and my stride is long and deliberate. I turn toward the judges once more to bow with sincere respect, demonstrating a delicate duality between "I have mastered much" and "I will never master it all."
I don't realize that all eyes are on me. My warmup routine has conditioned me to block out all distractions as I get myself into peak state.
image credit to https://open.buffer.com/confidence-humility/
There is no inner conflict or fear. I would normally be hungry as I don't eat very much before competition, but there is none of that. I'm experiencing what researchers understand as flow, more commonly known as being in "the zone".
I haven't always been able to do that. In fact, it has taken me years to perfect this "performance face" that the world now sees.
As my routine progresses, each yell with ever increasing ferocity, I use the kiai to manage my breathing to get through the work yet to be done. Without the proper breath, I would already be toast.
There is one final push. I've struggled during practice having the stamina to make it through without ending weak and desperate for air, but today my training has paid off. I am able to finish strong using every last ounce of energy within me, ending with my loudest kiai.
Once More, I bow maintaining my stature and demeanor as I know that this will impact my score.
I step off the mat away from the judges and let out a deep sigh of relief.