“Paralysis by Analysis”: Reflections on my day at the 2015 Summer Interclub Tourney

I wish I’d coined that phrase. It’s perfect. And I’m growing intimately (and annoyingly) familiar with it.

Analysis paralysis is a critical problem in athletics. It can be explained in simple terms as “failure to react in response to over-thought.” A victim of sporting analysis paralysis will frequently think in complicated terms of “what to do next” while contemplating the variety of possibilities, and in doing so exhausts the available time in which to act.

The Summer Interclub last Sunday was my second Tang Soo Do tournament and, all in all, I didn’t do all that badly.  Not that I couldn’t have done better.  I’ll save that for next time.

Ironically, I did best in weapons where I demonstrated a bong hyung (staff form) that I only did from end to end unassisted for the first time the day before.  The competition was probably only the fourth or fifth time I ever did the entire form without someone coaching me in one way or another; either as a video recorded reference or in person.  That form was the highlight of my day which went downhill steadily from there on out.

Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust! Sproing!

I often refer to the classic Daffy Duck as Robin Hood cartoon where he has some problems breaking down his quarterstaff technique and trying to pick out where things are going wrong. That cartoon pretty well summarizes how the rest of my day went — just not with the staff.

After weapons, we moved on to hyung without weapons.  I’ve been working on the second “peace and confidence” form, pyang ahn e dan, since shortly after my last belt promotion and thought it was ready enough to use as my tourney form. Not so much.  Although it began well, it deteriorated the further along it went as I drifted away from doing the form towards thinking about doing the form until I became hopelessly mired in the last four movements thinking about whether or not I was framing my blocks correctly. Classic “Analysis Paralysis”…

brain-out-to-get-youContinuing the pattern that would define the rest of the day, board breaking didn’t go well despite my having done the same break before in practice.  My “dwi yuck soo do kong kyuck” (spinning ridge hand) that was supposed to be a speed break was a flop.  It should have been a good break and I’ll have to revisit it one day.

And then came sparring.  Not my long suit to begin with but that’s when analysis paralysis truly came home to roost. There is no time to dwell on what you’re going to do next sparring.  You’re either doing it already or it’s too late.

I have until the end of October before the next tourney to stop overthinking and start doing and my next TSD class is tonight.


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