Since 1976

Which Path to Take?

In the classic book, Alice in Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way ought I to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” he replies. "I don't know and don’t much care where,“ says Alice. “Then,” the Cheshire Cat replies, “it doesn't matter which way you go.”

When I began my martial journey in 1965, I was just a kid, and didn't know which way I wanted to go. Over the years I realized I wanted to follow the path of the teacher. In the role as a black belt instructor I, like some of you, find myself in a unique position. Unlike a school teacher or coach (which are noble and influential professions) black belts are often held in awe because of the very nature of the martial arts. And with that comes a responsibility.

How can we be examples, leaders? The motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, who incidentally holds a black belt, says a leader is confident, has focus, is honest, is positive, and has the ability to inspire others. Confidence means standing tall, it’s how you come across to others. Obviously martial arts help in that regard. Focus. Martial artists keep their eyes on the prize, so to speak. That might be the next form, the next tournament, or the next rank.

Honesty means how you deal with others. Be truthful but also caring. Jhoon Rhee has a saying—Always correct with a smile. Your positivity can encourage those around you. YOUR positive thinking gets THEM to think that they can accomplish great things. And a great leader has charisma. That doesn’t mean you’re the loudest one in the room or that you have to have all the attention. In fact, those with the greatest charisma and the greatest ability to inspire are often the quietest.

One of the secrets to happiness has proven to be an attitude of gratefulness. I am humbled and grateful for the many, many students, instructors, family, and guests that came to the celebration of my 50 years as a black belt. It makes me happy and I sincerely hope that you find your path, that you develop an attitude of gratefulness and that you be happy as well.