It seems that I say that a lot more than I should have to.
We pretty it up and get into some deep denial, but martial arts is about hurting people. Breaking them. We can tack on a philosophy or pretend that we are kicking people in the head to access some inner peaceful monk, but that's a shitload of rationalization and mental gymnastics.
Then for safety reasons and social reasons and most insidious of all to protect the illusions of rank and mastery and proficiency, everyone practices NOT hurting each other. Some practice so well that after years of training in a martial art, they are better at not hurting people than they are hurting them.
That often winds up as the first big hurdle with new students. Hurt me.
I'm not stupid about it and we don't go out to tear each other's heads off continuously, but they have to know. Not just how it feels to let go, but what they must feel first in order to let go. So I put on armor (and/or position pads or telephone books) and let them unload. Hurt me!
This kind of training has its own objective feedback. You know you have a deeply damaged student when he or she hits the padded bad guy and looks back to the instructor to see if it was 'right'. Possibly the classic example of 'making sensei happy'. Right is knocking the wind out of me or knocking me back or, even better, knocking me flat on my back. It's right there, objective, undeniable.
It's not hard. Power generation, power stealing and structure combine even at low levels of proficiency and a small woman can break bones. If she lets herself. You get her to unload just once so perfect that she sees the look and hears the rapid suck of wind and right then, you ask "That was fun, wasn't it?" Because it is. Especially for people who have too much social pressure to be victims or who have come to believe that they lack power, to see it, to feel their own power opens up possibilities.
Another thing, and I say it a lot, "You know how to hit. You've been practicing. Now forget all that and just hurt me. Don't think about your form, just think about knocking me on my ass." One little mental tweak and almost all hit much, much harder. With the bonus that this brand-new mental tweak is miles closer to where their mindset needs to be if they ever have to hurt someone.
Good day today.