When I was in middle school, my brother and I took karate at a local church two nights a week. It helped us with discipline, focus, and it was a great way for me to develop more control for my drumming.

When Bruce Lee was introduced to America in the 1960’s through a series called “The Green Hornet,” few Westerners had ever seen anyone like him. He moved faster than seemed human possible, and at martial arts contests, he often demonstrated his two-finger push ups and his famous six-inch punch.

Lee could send a man across the floor with it, and there were no tricks. It was pure concentration and focus, and the use of his entire body. It was a complete moment.

I never did quite master that bit of the martial arts, but I took the idea of focus and applied to cymbal crashes and especially to back beats on the snare. The kick drum, of course, received its fair share of effort in this regard as well.

I was skinny kid, but I could hit hard and loud, which was needed during most of my unamplifiied playing as a teenager. There was a real sense of satisfaction with making intense contact with the cymbals and drums, and as I got older, that satisfaction grew even more when playing the blues and putting everything I had into a solid smack without the volume.

The real smack came from attitude.

I wanted to have the baddest, most solid and beat-pulsing impact I could create, just like Bruce Lee sending someone across the room. I wanted the people at the furthest end of the bar to feel a thump in their souls.

What usually happened when I did play like this was that people would make their way to the dance floor. I was controlling an entire room of people, becoming the driving force behind their own movement. The power coming out of my two hands and two feet was unreal when this mind/body connection became complete.

So let me offer a simple thought for the next time you play live: Single out the furthest person away, watch them, and play directly to them with every thing you have. You see, I have a theory about how Bruce Lee could send so much force at such a short distance. I believe he was aiming for the wall well behind the person he was hitting.

Try it with complete conviction… see what happens.