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Every year at New England Warrior Camp, we have the opportunity to do tameshigiri, or live blade cutting. A bamboo mat is soaked in water, rolled up, and put on a pedestal. Martial practitioners then take a sharp sword and attempt to cut it in half.


Learning how to perform a cut with a sword is only part of the picture. Once you learn the mechanics of making a cut and how to operate a sword, the next hardest part is making the commitment to cut. Many people are hesitant to put their full weight, momentum, and force behind their sword cut, and as a result they get through half the mat at best. Some nearly bounce off of it, making only a surface scratch.

Tameshigiri illustrates this lack of commitment in a very visceral, obvious way. If you don’t commit to the cut, you get an exceptionally poor result. If the tameshigiri target were an actual attacker, you’d be ineffective at best.

Why do you hesitate with a katana? Why don’t you commit to the cut? Sometimes it’s lack of confidence in your knowledge and ability about how to use a sword. Sometimes it’s outright fear of the sword – understandably so, since most people don’t routinely use a four foot razor blade regularly. But sometimes, it’s a deeper fear of committing and putting your full force behind anything at all in life that holds you back from even something as simple as swinging a sword.

Once you make that personal breakthrough, once you get some knowledge, overcome your fear, and commit to giving it your all, the sword cuts. The target falls, lopped in half, and you walk away amazed at yourself, amazed at what you are capable of. Despite your lack of confidence, despite your fear, your willingness to commit, your will to act, pushes you through to victory and success.

Ask yourself this:

What in your life are you seeing lackluster results in?

What in your life are you seeing lackluster results in because you are hesitating to commit, and how would your life change for the better if you pushed past your fear, pushed past your hesitation, and committed to the cut?

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4 responses to “Committing to the cut”

  1. I’m possibly the world’s leading thought expert on not committing to stuff. I say this with absolute confidence and am yet to meet my nemesis.

    I have a million ideas, and I always make excuses for not committing at the final analysis. God only knows what I’d be like if I were to wield a 48-inch razor blade. I haven’t even shaved for four days with a two-inch number!

    PodCamp UK is my chance to work with a team of enthusiasts to change all that. Inspired, as ever, by @cspenn.

  2. You’ve got a way with metaphors, Mr. Penn. I assume the mat pictures is your mat? What was your first big mat-cutting experience in the world of Internet marketing? Podcamp Boston? Marketing Over Coffee? Great post!

    By the way, when are you going to be on Media Hacks again? Mitch is great and all but the dynamics of MH are hard to beat.

  3.  Avatar

    Hi Dave! We’ve all been there. For me, a month out from the first Podcamp Philly, there was a question whether we had all the sponsors we needed and what did we need to do to make that happen. I committed to doing anything I had to to make that happen- which meant putting together a list, making calls every day, presenting the value, and in the end, it turned out very well indeed. But there’s that “failure isn’t an option” attitude, and sometimes it takes the form of “I’ve painted myself into an uncomfortable corner, now what?” but the willingness to solve those problems and push through teaches you more than almost any other experience out there.

    Already I know you’ll be able to do this with Podcamp UK- it will be a “We’re doing this- and take no prisoners” approach that will see you through the discouraging times with this or any other project- you just have to be willing to do what it takes to get it done. And on the other side, you’ll look back and say “That was really awesome- I didn’t know I could do it, but that was worth it all.”

    The self-confidence you gain from doing stuff that you thought was unthinkable- I did this with a half-marathon this past spring-teaches you a lot about what you’re made of. It’s good to know and gives you a confidence to swing for the fences as we say here state-side- and that’s something we all have to be willing to do with our endeavors.

    1. Hey Whitney! Our paths seem to be unstoppably intertwined today.

      The PodCamp thing WILL happen – you’re so right.

      I think I was a little harsh on myself. I’m absolutely 100% ok seeing things through when I have the passion and the resolve. It’s the saboteur in this solopreneur that occasionally helps turn what should be valuable ideas requiring action into mush.

      I think it’s the distracted gene in me that wins more often than not. When I see the stuff we’re all capable of, that’s when the focus kicks in.

      Thanks for all your support for PodCamp UK, Whitney. You – and Chris – are godsends.

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