I've spent a lot of time giving an invisible enemy the one-two punch. After all these years, I still need to remind myself during basics and Kata that there is supposed to be someone there, someone on the receiving end of each technique; I'm not meant to just punch and kick the air. In order to do it with feeling, it must be done with intent.
I hope I never have to use what I've learned, but even as a Shodan I sometimes doubt my ability. Do I really know what I'm doing? If I ever needed to defend myself would I be capable of actually hurting someone? Could one of my punches really inflict an injury or stop an attack? All valid questions considering a large percentage of my training involves kicking and punching...nothing.
It is important to know what it feels like to hit something, so occasionally in class we'll get out the pads and partner up, which gives everyone an opportunity to haul off and see what we're made of by combining technique with power and focus. Clearly my right side is made of a lot more than my left and I'm sure it shows in my technique. My right side feels good, sounds good and (I think) looks good, but why is it that my left hand punch feels like the first one I've ever thrown? So awkward and void of power. Before each punch I even stop to tell myself - through the pad - focus and hit! Then it feels like I just tap the pad. Why is that?!
Clearly this is something I need to work on. Hitting something other than an invisible enemy.