Impact Martial Arts

How people (just like you) use Martial Arts to break through limiting beliefs.

Posted: November 19, 2019

This featured article was inspired by two events which took place earlier this year and both came by popular request.

Some of our adults students and parents who train at our academy asked for a "Summer Camp for Adults". As we had more than several suggestions, we felt inclined to make it happen. So on July 1-3, Impact Martial Arts hosted said event.

What follows is not only some of my profound takeaways from the recent events, but moments which are peak highlights of my year and more so, stand out as some of the top moments of my entire martial arts career (27 years of training included).

In this 3-day camp we sharpened our physical skills as well as brought in highly skilled special guest instructors and explored some of the world's other forms of martial arts like muay thai and jujitsu. On the final day we took a deep dive into not only what has helped us succeed in martial arts, but also what holds us back, a.k.a. Limiting beliefs.

These thoughts and beliefs can stem from our early childhood, our past mistakes, unhealthy relationships, fear of failure (or success) or a variety of emotions, so we have a difficult time processing and understanding them by ourselves or with the help of others. Most, however are false truths we somehow let ourselves buy into.

To set the scene for our camp. We gathered on the mats during the last hour of the three-day, four-hour-per-day camp. We sat down (for what seemed like the first time in days), talked about the highlights of the camp, who we felt encouraged and supported is most, and what key takeaways we had about ourselves. Tired, but inspired, the group continued shared moments that helped them push through, which transitioned beautifully into the final exercise.

I handed each of them a large piece of wood, 12 inches long by 12 inches wide by 1 inch thick, along with a sharpie that was even thicker (the kind your grade school teachers hid from you as they could make the entire class nauseous). I asked them to each write down what they felt their own limiting beliefs were in a word or phrase and then sit there and ponder it as to what it would feel like for them to overcome that belief for a moment.

We then formed a circle and I asked one of them to share their "LB" with the group and a back story. To protect these individuals, I won't say names but many of these ranged from insecurity, self-doubt, perfectionism (having to always be right), lack of contentment, the list goes on. What each of us found interesting was though a large group of martial artists who exude confidence, discipline, integrity etc., we all struggle with something.

I asked who wanted to break through that L.B. Today? Hands shot up in the air. I let them each choose a technique of their choice (front kick, side kick, karate-chop) and let them not only smash through that wooden board but also the feeling, phrase or words that associated with their limiting beliefs. Naturally, there were tears. Tears of joy, relief and feelings of anxiety or anger left the studio in an instant.

Naturally, there was hugging, continued crying, celebrating and feelings of relaxation filled the room as oxytocin Levels went through the roof. There are many different feelings we have when we train in martial arts, empowerment, victory, defeat, fulfillment to name a few, but seeing the personal growth this group of individuals attained is on a whole different level compared to taking 1-2 classes per week. So much so, that this article is not only meant to show importance of belonging to a community, especially one where everyone is cared for and elevated by one another, finding ways to overcome your limiting beliefs, and supporting a just cause. Martial arts encompasses what human beings need to advance us forward in life beyond stepping on to the mats, attaining belts, or winning medals. It's purpose is to help others grow and inspire future generations to do the same.

The second opportunity came just a month ago. I was presented with the opportunity to do this same exercise with a group of high-level learners, entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and freelancers. Some are established as published authors and writers, Social and Non-social media influencers and experts in specific Niches, a couple are currently W-2 employees in search of advancing their own just cause and leaving their 9 to 5 lifestyle, and many more. These individuals are called, "The Total Life Freedom Mastermind Community", which our academy's chief instructor, Mr. Juan Gonzalez and I are privileged to be a members of. We had gathered for a semi-annual retreat. This one happened to be in The Smokey Mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with a scenery so majestic it felt like you were trapped in a picture perfect postcard.

Though many are successful as far as the amount of business revenue, career accomplishments, level of security they have or are seeking, we each carried along our limiting beliefs which were on a whole different level. A few were; Impostor syndrome, low self-worth, letting down their families or loved ones, disappointment, fear of their own success and more.

And on the final day of the retreat, in a cabin in the woods, on top of a high mountain, in front of the entire tribe (and I'm sure a few hungry foraging black bears), we ripped through some boards and freed ourselves of these beliefs. I'm fortunate enough to allow a member to share her limiting belief story with you.

Jennifer's experience:
During a childhood full of movie-level child abuse and sex trafficking, it was drilled into my head that I didn't deserve anything good, that I had to earn every breath and every bite I took. Often a straight-A student despite missing months of school each year, I was a high achiever from the beginning, self-taught in many areas, and I built my business from nothing. Despite success with it including editing some USA Today bestsellers and serving great clients and supporting my family and my team members' families with the income and despite the healing I had done through decades of therapy, growth, and personal development, I still held a limiting belief: I am unworthy.

That is the belief I wrote on my board at the Total Life Freedom retreat. That is the belief Ken held between his hands and up in front of my face. That is the belief I smashed as my hammer fist breezed right through that board. When I was a preteen in martial arts, I could not break the boards, so as you can imagine, my confidence skyrocketed as soon as the board Ken held exploded.

Since that day, I have said no to many prospective clients (and fired a client) who are not good for me. I started taking better care of my diabetes and bought myself a cartful of a special tea I had always decided against because I "didn't deserve it." Now, every time I need a nap, I take one because I am self-employed, set my own schedule, and deserve to take good care of myself. I am worthy, and so are you.

Ken Hoops will forever be a very special friend to me. He helped me break through much more than a board. If you have a chance to learn from him, I hope you jump at it.

Jennifer Harshman
Owner of

WOW! Powerful. Another reason why I share anything with the world from avoiding being scammed by "McDojos" to experiencing significant moments such as these with anyone is to show you some of the uncomprehending possibilities martial arts (which is essentially disguised and personal growth or self-discovery) could have on your life of for someone you know.

As always thanks for reading the blog. If you were inspired by this piece or any of our content, I invite you to share it with someone.