Winston Churchill once wrote, "Courage is rightly considered the foremost of virtues, for upon it, all others depend." Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
The first scary thing I did was take off several hundred miles on a train to go to college . I traveled alone, with my travelling trunk in the baggage car. I left behind the town I knew, my friends, my family. Determination carried me through.
The second, and much more frightening, thing was to travel from London to the tiny town of Morehouse. My belongings were shipped separately by freighter. Again I left behind everything I knew. Again courage enabled me to overcome my fears and my strange new in-laws.
My sons have both undergone frightening experiences and have shown the courage to overcome their difficulties. The elder had a career in applied mathematics all laid out when he felt the call to become a priest. There were weeks and months of quite devastating soul-searching for us all as he made his way to his true calling.
Tre younger boy went off to college in India and was out of touch with me for months. It turned out he had become ill from drinking raw water and was in quite a lot of danger. He steadfastly worked his way through his problems, returning to the States with the help of friends in several countries.
Facing up to the problem and troubles and carrying on had brought us all through.
- Janet Hinson, 2nd Dan
Respect starts with an essential principle – that all things in this world have value, purpose and place. Ecologists – and farmers before them – have long known that removing even the smallest of life forms from an ecosystem can have devastating effects. Try to grow crops in soil where there is no bacteria. How long would an ocean’s whale population survive without plankton?
Respect is an acknowledgment and appreciation of the intrinsic value in everything, and treating those things accordingly. Typically, we consider respect in humanistic terms. All people have value. They have a place in our society. Thus, our society has ascribed some measure of respect to all individuals through basic rights, legislated and enforced by the government itself. These respect oriented rights include the right to privacy, speech, to pursue happiness, to receive an education, own property, to be tried fairly by a jury, and so on.
Beyond basic human rights, we display respect for people who have earned special place in our society, often because of their contribution or status within our culture. We stand when dignitaries, leaders and officials enter the room. We say “sir” or “madam” to our elders, to those in authority over us, or to those that we desire to acknowledge in a special way. We offer respect to individuals when we listen to them, serve them gratefully and willingly, and provide space for individuals to live without our interference or invasion.
As a pastor, respect is a vital part of the way I interact with others. I have to take the view that all people – even the marginalized and set aside of our society – are worthy of significant respect and try to treat people accordingly. When I consider who I show the most respect to, it would have to be individuals who have suffered through loss of life. When families ask me to “do the funeral”, they are really asking me to represent back to them the life, contributions (i.e. value), and significance of their loved one. The highest respect I can give to the deceased – and by extension their family – is to do this accurately and eloquently and to offer to the family the respect and sanctity that God himself had for the individual.
Where could I show more respect? Possibly to those who show little respect themselves. The church daily receives calls from individuals with stories about why they need money. Often these stories are fabricated. Some are likely true – at least partially. Short of following up on every phone call, we have no way of knowing who is telling the truth and who is lying to get money. As a church, we are unable to provide financial assistance to the large numbers of people who request it. We do freely provide food and clothing for any who will take it. Very few accept that. Because of the quantity of calls and the infrequency of people who are willing to accept help other than cash, it is easy to write off the callers and their problems. I can’t forget that those individuals have value, and their struggles (including the reasons why they would choose to lie to a church to get money) are likely worthy of my attention and respect.
- Jason Hill, orange belt
Consistency Quotient. When this term was first introduced to me during a meeting by Grandmaster Sautel, I immediately agreed with the idea of it. Of course, more consistency leads to more growth, higher quality, fun, etc. It’s an easy enough concept to nod your head along with, however it is much easier to say that more practice will make you better than to actually put the idea into action! Using Moo Sul Kwan traditions, we are not just reinforcing an idea by saying it over and over, we are providing opportunities for the individual to understand why this statement is true.
If you only attended school once per week, you would be well into your 30s before even receiving a high school diploma. If you only made a house payment once per quarter, that mortgage timeframe would go from 30 years to 120 years! These kinds of things are all based in future thought; you have to consider the LONG TERM when acting in the present. The MSK black belt is an easy enough long-term goal to look at and for the purposes of this article that is the goal post we will use (though achieving black belt is just the beginning of your real journey).
What makes up the MSK black belt that makes them unique? Is it the knowledge of and skill with their techniques? Their discipline, respect, or leadership? It is all of the above and then some. Years of dedication, hard work, and stepping outside their comfort zone built these amazing individuals, but it did not happen by accident. Consistency is the one thing that ties all of the other qualities together, reinforcing them.
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency, consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” This quote comes from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; it would be safe to say that he is pretty successful in whatever ventures he chooses to pursue. Grinding day in and day out may seem like it is uncomfortable, and sometimes it can be, but you have to keep in mind the LONG-TERM goals you want to achieve. Inconsistency can sneak up on you fast, and that is where the excuses begin to flow.
“I’m tired”, “I don’t feel so good”, “I’m sore”. If you are sick, then stay home and rest and be ready to come back strong the next class. Otherwise, these are nights that you need to come the most. You will always be glad you came to class, have more energy, and help work out soreness with an extra work out!
“But I have so much work to get done”, or “I have homework due”! Not only will coming to class clear your mind, allowing you to think and focus more, keeping a consistent schedule helps you develop time management skills. The second you begin shuffling things around and taking pieces of your routine out, then time management skill goes out the window.
Come to class twice per week and make as many events as your can! It sounds like something we just say, but that kind of consistency can lead to great achievements and success in the long term. Keeping your ultimate goals in mind and not letting excuses be roadblocks to your own success, the consistency quotient is something you can improve this week, today, right now!
- Nick Slinkard, 3rd dan
Responsibility is knowing what is expected and to follow through. Different stages of life require different types of jobs/duties/obligations. From school, chores, your job to sports you should always do your best at whatever it is you are doing. There is no “I” in team and I find that in most all situations I am part of a team. At work, church, taekwondo, family and friends; I am part of a group and I try my best to give 100% in each situation. Its best to not over extend yourself as well. Sometimes having a caring heart can put you in the situation of being pulled in too many directions at one time which can lead to frustration, stress, illness, etc. so schedule according to what you can realistically fit in and that way you are able to fulfill your obligations. If you over extend you run the chance of not being able to give your best to your obligations which can put extra work on someone else and you risk cheating yourself. As a parent; we should try to not over load our children as well. They are human, and their obligations should be balanced as well.
-Tammy DeMott, Blue Belt
To me, courage is having the strength to do something even though it might be a scary situation.
My father is an electrician and contractors hire them to work on houses. On a job he was offered, the contractors told him that they wanted him to cut corners for them to make more money. He refused because it is against the morals of his company. He ended up losing the job, but he wouldn’t have done it differently.
My mother had a similar experience, except this time it was her company that asked her to cut corners. The company she was working for told her to misreport income and she refused. She was fired for not doing what they said. To me this is incredible to find out. She made the decision to follow her morals and summoned the courage even though her job and family was at stake.
At one of the previous excursions, one of the students was picking on another student. I don’t believe in bullying and never have. Even though the bully was older belt than me, I decided to stand against this act.
Another instance is when I was hanging out with some friends. I knew they were using drugs, but I didn’t expect them to use drugs around me. As the night went on they offered several times, but I refused for I didn’t think it was right. I ended up leaving because I didn’t feel comfortable around them anymore. To this day I don’t believe I have hung out with them again.
Courage is used in several ways through everyday life. The main one that comes to mind is answering questions or throwing out ideas that I have at work. To me this is scary because I could be drastically wrong and look bad in front of my boss. Another way is when I go out and meet new people. I know coming from me this might sound weird, but I struggle talking to others in a casual setting. For me, I really must dig deep into my storage of courage to not just sit back and stay out of the conversations around me.
- Matt Gibson, Red Belt
MSK Taekwondo as a teen
Being a teenager while doing Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo is important now and later in life. Being a teenager, I have learned in class to use self control before self defense, we call this Ho Shin. It means not to hurt anybody outside or inside of class unless you are being threatened. It means not to hurt them if they are being rude but always ask what the problem is first and don’t go straight to punching and kicking. If they were about to start hurting you a lot that is the time to start using what you learned in MSK Taekwondo to protect yourself. Defending yourself is important. P arents want their kids to be safe and not be scared. MSK Taekwondo is a way to defend yourself in dangerous situations. MSK Taekwondo has helped me stretch my body to kick higher, punch harder, and to have a good stance which requires lots of practice. In Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo, practice is important, both mentally and physically. If your goal is to become a better kicker practice at home, outside, or in class because practicing makes you better at doing it. MSK Taekwondo helps teenagers learn how to better deal with pain and struggle. In class pain and struggling is temporary but has a big impact on you later in life, and sometimes necessary in order to reach your life goals.
MSK Taekwondo with a teen
Everyone has a problem that you know nothing about, this is especially true when you are a teen. Who are your friends, what crowd to fit in with, which grades are more important, why am I in trouble again? Issues that seem trivial as adults take center stage as a teen, yet chances are you had the same issues growing up. How easy it is to forget the challenges of adolescence, I certainly have either forgotten or suppressed most of mine. Often while watching my teenage son struggle I find myself poking around in the dusty corners of my brain looking for remnants of my young feelings. All parents do this at some time, wanting and hoping to give their child some kernel of information that they did not have. One piece that I had as a teen was Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo, I am hoping to pass along some of my my growth and experiences through this training to my son. School and the pressures that go along with it can be hard, especially in the middle school years, nothing seems to make sense. Friends change, teachers can be good or bad depending on the day and don't get me started on parents. There is no consistency at a time when a sane and simple, predictable routine should exist. The Missouri Taekwondo Institute provides our family this stable platform. Everyone is equal, at least in the dojang. It doesn't matter the color of your hair, eyes or your belt. Your uniform is the same, your basic training is the same and so is your sweat. The most difficult challenger you will encounter is the one you see in the mirror, this reflection will also become your biggest critic and your most steadfast ally. There are no subgroups based on fashion, looks or intelligence, we are all working to better ourselves. Advancement in rank is set by your instructor, it is up to you to set your own individual goals. You may choose advancement to the next belt, breaking more boards, learning to protect yourself or becoming fit. It doesn't matter what you choose as your assignment so long as you are true to yourself. What you learn in addition to your training may not be initially seem important. It is the side lessons that when planted require time to take root. Listening, timing, self confidence, spacial awareness are some of these skills. You and your teen may not see the benefits of this alternate training initially but they do show up in your attitude, which ultimately enhances your personal and family skills.
- Scott (father)and Alex (teen) Hancey, blue belts
When you examine the traits of successful people, the role models of society, you are sure to find one trait in common among them all: responsibility. There’s a very good reason for this. Responsibility is vital to success. Think about what is necessary to be successful in the business world. You’re likely to think of things like being dependable, driven, organized, committed. All of these things require a high level of personal responsibility. It takes a responsible person to hold yourself to high standards and to remain motivated- especially when you are largely answering to yourself. You need to keep pushing in order to get ahead in the world and to meet your goals. That requires personal responsibility. That requires someone with enough responsibility and drive to never give up. Those people are the leaders of society.
Responsibility is equally important in other areas of life as well. It’s important to be responsible in your personal life. Your parents count on you to do your chores, to pay attention and do well in school, and to stay out of trouble. Your partner counts on you to follow through with your commitments, to help with day-to-day duties, and to contribute to the family. Your kids count on you to help them navigate through life, to protect them, and to be their role models. All of these things require you to be a responsible person.
One of the things you can do to become more responsible is to engage in activities and passions that lend themselves to molding successful people. One of those things happens to be Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo. Think about the five tenets of MSK Taekwondo as they relate to responsibility. Responsible people are courteous and respectful of others. Responsible people have a high level of integrity- that moral compass is crucial in being dependable, trustworthy, prepared… responsible. Responsibility and perseverance go hand in hand- you must remain motivated to reach your full potential, and to not let life’s obstacles pull you down. You must have the personal responsibility necessary to persevere. Being responsible and having self-control are nearly synonyms of each other. It’s very difficult to describe the traits of a responsible person without also describing someone with self-control and the ability to stay focused and motivated. Indomitable spirit- pushing yourself beyond what you have previously done, not allowing yourself to give up or get discouraged, having the strength inside yourself to become better than you ever have been- what’s more responsible than that? If you want to become a successful and responsible person, keep pushing yourself in your Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo studies; keep pushing to personify the five tenets. By doing this, responsibility- and in turn, success- is inevitable.
- Amy Krupp, blue belt
Everyone has a place, role and responsibility in this world. From the youngest to the oldest person; we are obligated to perform that role(s) to the best of our ability. A young child is responsible for being an obedient, respectful, productive contributor to the family and so is a teenager, parent and even older adult. As skills expand, so do the tasks and authority over one’s self as well as others. The areas of responsibility expand outside of the home to school, work, sports, and in social settings. Increased responsibly is earned and granted and these new opportunities should be sought after and cherished as they provide the foundation for learning and developing new skills. Failure to meet obligations typically leads to a loss of responsibility and authority and control; even control of one’s own life. The premise of failure and loss of responsibility should be avoided. Responsibility is an honor bound duty, and obligation and commitment to yourself, others and they system; which leads to a more production and positive culture/society/organization/family.
- Brian O'Reilly, green belt
Avery competing in poomse at the 28th DMAC
I went to Denver, Colorado, with Mr. Slinkard to compete in a tournament hosted by the Colorado Taekwondo Institute. Everyone there was REALLY nice and kind.
On the first day all the black belts competed. There were A LOT of black belts there. Especially junior black belts. Some of the black belts did a poomse that I thought was really unique, and it stood out to me a lot. One of the moves they got on one knee and hands, then did a roundhouse kick. Anyways, quite a few of the black belts introduced themselves to me. Then Grandmaster Sautel introduced himself, and gave me a job to record them sparring, board breaking, and poomse.
On the second day the black belts did staff poomse. When I first got there they did this thing where they put a green number one hand, and a red number on the other. The green number was what ring you went to for poomse. The red number was the ring you went to for sparring. This made it a lot easier to know where to go. Instead of two or three events they had four. There were poomse, free sparring, first point wins sparring, and board breaking.Then they had me time keep and record the scores in poomse for the lower belts.
It was really fun, and I had a great time. I hope I can go back next year!
- Avery Mitzlaff, red belt
In Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo classes I tend to be rather self-directed in my learning. Whether I’m doing basics, poomse, or one steps, I’m constantly looking for something that I can improve upon and then practice it repeatedly until I have it down consistently. I find this greatly helps me in class, not just by actively improving my skills but also by helping me maintain better focus and concentration in class by keeping me engaged in what I am doing. By being actively engaged in class, I become more motivated to push my limits and become an even stronger martial artist. As an assistant instructor, I try to encourage my students to do the same.
When assistant-teaching junior classes, sometimes I’ll have a student come in after a long day and they just go through the motions because they’re tired. Instead of trying to ask them to fix the same thing repeatedly, such as paying attention, getting lower in their stances, or using power, I’ll ask them how they think they’re doing and pick one thing that they can do better. Asking the student to evaluate their own performance can cause them to switch gears and think about what they just did. Actively working on a goal they set for themselves can motivate them to work harder in class, striving to do their best.
Asking the student to process what they just did and develop their own solution for improvement encourages them to practice not only their critical thinking skills, but self-awareness as well. These skills are very important and are used all throughout life, whether inside or outside of class, at work or school, at a young age, or as an adult. Self-awareness and critical thinking are very necessary in being a self-directed learner to be able to evaluate what needs to be improved upon and how to improve it. By being a self-directed learner, one can advance further ahead in anything they do because not only are they paying attention to what is going on, but they are also giving 100% towards improvement.
- Lauren Smith, red belt