Thursday, January 29, 2015

You Really Are Good

photo credit: jrsachs via photopin cc
I started training in the Martial Arts, not counting wrestling, in college back in the mid 70's.  My introduction to which fighting style was better than another was at a tournament my fraternity sponsored for the karate club I was a member of.  Before we, all white belts in shorin-ryu, competed, I asked what "open tournament" meant. The sensei told me that it meant that Kung Fu guys were going to be there.  "Kung Fu" was a big deal in the 60's and 70's, so I asked him how we were supposed to fight them.  He said, "When they are waving around their hands, just kick them."  That was that.  I had actually heard advice like that for well over 4 years already in wrestling, "just pin them, so it was kinda the same thing, giving me the distinct impression that everyone thought their thing was the best thing. This turned out to be true in boxing, wrestling, fencing and karate.  

photo credit: tommrkr via photopin cc
Fast forward to the new century, and it is still pretty much the same.  However, I no longer really care which style is better, since that is kinda like asking which vegetable is better.  It depends on the person eating it.  I would have said, a decade ago, that it also depended on what you were looking for, but that turned out not to be true.

Today, after teaching a Tiny Tigers class with 25 kids in it, age 4 and 5, with 4 full instructors, 2 of them Masters, one of them a school owner; a parent stopped me and said, "You are really good with the kids, and you are doing the impossible."

I am learning now, after being alive for more than 1/2 a century, that the answer to that is Thank You.  I knew that for most of my life, but I never accepted it as a reality until recently.

So I said thank you.  Then I told him the truth.  "No one comes here unless they are really good parent's to begin with, and we have really good teacher here, so it comes down to good students and good staff."

He smiled, and said, "But you really make a Difference."

Is that because I am teaching the kids Martial Arts?  Is that because GM Greg Silva's Universal Kenpo is so good? Is that because our teaching team rocks the world?  Is that because I teach Martial Arts better than everyone else?  Is that because I am a Tang Soo Do stylist and we are Superior? Why would he say that twice.

Here is the epiphany that I want to share.

Yes, GM Silva's Universal Curriculum is really good, and it having been designed for this age does in fact make it easier to teach.

Yes. Our teaching team are all very very good at their arts, but they are even better teachers, and even better at recognizing the need in the student.  Most if not all are better at it than I am.

Yes, I am a gifted instructor, or at least I have been told that several thousand times, and as Christians go, I am pretty good at knowing gifts when I see them.

Yes, Tang Soo Do stylists are Superior.... Ok, just checking to see if you are still with me. That is just another vegetable, one that I really like.

So why did he say it twice, after I accepted the compliment and gave credit where credit was do.
A family That Trains Together

Because, he knows that it is not about the Art, the Style, the name or the uniform.  It's not about the courtesy, they system or the tradition.  It's about his son and his family. And 100% of what we do is always about the student.  No exceptions.

Have I made errors or lost my way?  Yes, more times that not I suspect; however, do you remember that awesome teaching team I was writing about above?  They all are individuals now.  I used to look at this as a military unit, and to some degree it is, but we have all generals here.  They all decide at the moment what is right and wrong, and are not shy about sharing.  That used to scare me but not any longer.  The desire to help the students and each other is what we do.

So, end the end, I have to say, if you are teaching Martial Arts, no matter the style, YOU ARE REALLY GOOD.  You make a difference.  Those that do not, are no longer teaching. Not a bad thing, by the way, to no longer be teaching.  Everybody stops. We are mortal.  But right now, today, You Are Really Good, and it has nothing to do with your style, system or rank.  It has to do with you. YOU are really good.

For me, it also has to do with my God.  I have learned that I do everything as if for the Lord, because, in my family, it is.  He doesn't count my coin or measure my goodness, he only expects me to love my neighbor.  Good thing that is what we do in the Martial Arts.

So, focus on what matters, and let the others focus on the vegetables.  We teach people martial arts.  They teach martial arts. 

Tang Soo 

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