Sunday, December 21, 2008

the power of martial arts: truth...

No matter how strong we believe in something, reality has a habit of hitting over the head with the truth. This is a good thing. Too often we get overconfidence believing that we are too good, conversely believing we are not good enough. When you understand the truth about yourself, it gives you the freedom to taken on any challenge by knowing your true strengths and weaknesses.

Training at Jung SuWon, I have continually face these truths. When I was challenged to break my first board, I was scared. I know what it feels in having my knuckles rapped. Even though I have seen others break boards with their bare hands, there is something about the pain of hitting something with all you strength and not having it break. I created a bunch of scenarios of failing. My best chance of not getting hurt was to break it on the first try. I did not hold back. The board was the only thing present in my mind at that moment. With a loud Ki-Up, my fist smashed through the board. It barely register that I hit the board. It was broken and I was unhurt. The truth was that I could break a board unhurt.

Unfortunately the human mind does not make it easy to repeat a task. During my next testing I was again ask to break a board. Now because of the apparent ease in which the first board broke, I made the mistake that breaking boards is easy. All the focus and preparation I performed on my first break was gone. I was focus on two or three moves down my testing. The time came to make the strike. BAM! It did not break. I could feel pain throb in my hand. I just whacked my hand against a piece of hard wood. The truth sunk in, painfully. I knew I could break the board. I requested to try again. This time it was my complete focus. With my brain telling be that what I was about to do was going to hurt, made the next move even more difficult. If you burn you hand in a fire, why would be put your hand in it again? I know I can break this board. But I also know that I need to put my body, mind, and spirit into making it happen. With a loud Ki-Up, I struck and broke the board.

In the first case, I did not believe I could really do it. Yet using the tools I was taught by Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim, I was able to break the board with ease. Because it broke so easy, I became over-confident, not using the tools I had learned. In each case I learn more about the truth of who I am and what I am capable to do.

Training at Jung SuWon is a search for the truth; to continually refine those boundaries and expand them out beyond the Dojang.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the power of martial arts: sacrifice...

Sacrifice is the act of forfeiting something of value in exchange of something of greater value. It comes from Latin, sacificium, which means to make sacred. One would make an offering to a deity to make the relationship sacred.

We think of sacrifice as giving up something in the short term to gain more in the long term. Like giving up chocolate cake to lose weight, or studying very hard to become a doctor.

To be able to effectively sacrifice, to make sacred, we must know what we truly want to accomplished. This could be a simple as preparing dinner or complex as creating a career. When I carve a statue out of wood, I must sacrifice the wood to bring forth the status within. We must sacrifice those habits and things that prevent us from shaping our desired life.

In training under Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim, I recognize the mental limitations I have created for myself. It is so easy to say that you cannot do something when you never really tried. Jung SuWon gives you an opportunity to push yourself to realize that you can do more then you thought. You sacrifice pre-existing beliefs in yourself like I am weak or I'm too fat. I found that my attitude changed and this carried over into my job. Rather than shy away from jobs in which I had no experience, I would jump at the challenge to learn and grow. Instead of limiting myself to a narrow track of life, I expanded out to try new things. To learn to play guitar, or video editing, or take a class on astronomy. Rather than creating artificial limits in our life, we should explore and learn to find what are those real limits. You would be surprise how far the boundaries go.

What am I willing to sacrifice to discover my potential? What am I willing to sacrifice to live the good life? The greater the reward, the greater the sacrifice.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

the power of martial arts: patience...

Patience is a powerful tool. In the book, "Seven Steps to Inner Power", Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim uses the caterpillar as a metaphor. For a caterpillar to transform to a butterfly, it has to go through a process, going through specific stages at specific times. As we strive to achieve our goals there are stages we go though that take time to complete. Our impatience can spoil the desired results or even push us further from our intended goal. Recognizing that there is a right time, a right place, and a right situation gives us the power to act accordingly, transforming the caterpillar into the butterfly.

Another example is giving birth. It does not matter what the mother wants, the child has to go through a process from fertilized egg to a fully developed baby. In recognizing this process, the mother maintains patience to allow the process to complete.

I go through many processes in order to get to the goal I am after. In engineering, the is a development process that I go through in developing a product. In spite of my desire and pressure from marketing and management to get a product out as quickly as possible, whenever I take a shortcut to try to speed up the process, I invariably run into issues that and in most case result in the product release being delayed. Another example is when I go shopping. I find that my impatience usually results in spending more money than I intended.

When training in Jung SuWon, your skills are built on techniques you learn in a particular order. The reason for this is to establish on foundation of good techniques, both mental and physical, which others are built on. I have seen many students try to "jump ahead", impatient with their progress and understanding of the process. This results in ineffective moves and techniques, and potential injury.

Patience is the essential ingredient in transformation. Whether the transformation is improving one's self or applying one's self to a goal.

Monday, December 1, 2008

the power of the martial arts: loyalty...

One of the definitions of Loyalty is a faithfulness to a sovereign, government, or leader. To be loyal is to imply a obligation to support and uphold. We hear of loyalty to a country or to a king. The willingness to sacrifice for something greater than one's self.

Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim suggested in class to apply that same loyalty to our own goals and purpose. We are willing to make sacrifices for others, but are we willing to make those same sacrifices to achieve our own goals? She gave an example of losing weight. Are we being disloyal when we sneak a snack here and there? In order to be loyal to this goal do we not have an obligation to support and uphold it. Are we willing to make sacrifices in order to maintain loyalty to our goal? As a solider fights for his country to defend and protect, we must fight and defend our goals against the laziness, arrogance, and ignorance within ourselves. Should we not have loyalty to our life that we are willing to fight and defend.

I have reviewed my goals. Have I been loyal to myself? Have I made the commitments and sacrifices to achieve these goals. Or am I being disloyal to myself, back tracking on my commitments and avoid making the sacrifices need to achieve my goals.

A simple goal I have is to eat healthy. If I am loyal to my goal, why do I grab a fast food hamburger. To be loyal to yourself is to mean that you are important and worth fighting for. It means to recognize and making choices and then take actions.

In Jung SuWon, I feel sparring is a test of personal loyalty. I am committed to defend myself. I must maintain my awareness and take action. I am worth defending.

I find that after an intense sparring class, I feel better about myself. I might not have defended myself as well as I hope for, but the effort was worth it. That feeling is carried to other parts of my life. Knowing that I have made commitments to myself and I am carrying them out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the power of martial arts: confidence...

In the art of Jung SuWon, we are taught to challenge ourselves. By challenging ourselves we can achieve a greater sense of our own potential. As we overcome these challenges, there is a sense of accomplishment and belief in what we are capable of.

Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim teaches a simple set of principles of mental conduct.

Conquer your own weaknesses and fears rather than others.
Learn from your mistakes.
You have the ability to do, the capacity of act, and the capability to perform and produce.
Have a quality purpose and determination.
Have a positive mental attitude.

By focusing on our self and overcoming our weaknesses and fears we gain confidence. During sparring in class I am paired up from a wide range of opponents that vary greatly in experience and skills. In my rise through the ranks, I have gain confidence in physical and mental control. When facing my juniors, I understand their challenge and push them to allow them to recognize there ability. The sense of being able to block an oncoming attack or being able to initiate an attack without fear. When facing my seniors, I need to give them the freedom to push me and to recognize my fears and weaknesses. I need to maintain discipline of my thoughts and emotions.

This builds confidence in myself and it carries off the do jang. In work I am able to take on new projects that I might have shied away from because of the scope or difficulty. At home I am learning to play guitar, because I have the confidence that I have the ability and willingness to make mistakes. With confidence, life becomes an opportunity to explore and learn. It opens the door to try new things. Think of the alternative. What would you accomplish, or even attempt with a lack of confidence? Confidence is a tool in building a successful life. Like a muscle is must be worked to expand and grow.

Jung SuWon can be considered a gym to strengthen your confidence.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

the power of martial arts: being humble...

When faced with a challenge, there are two forces that can defeat you before you make the first move. The first is being controlled by fear. The second is over-confidence. In martial arts, the sense of being comfortable can allow you to put your guard down and to assume too much of the situation. This results in lazy thinking and inaction. Why the martial arts is such a great teaching tool it that this thinking is very easily corrected. And usually that process is a painful realization.

In Jung SuWon, breaking a board is a test of your discipline of technique and attitude. The first time in breaking a board, there is a lot of fear to overcome. The unknown if you will break it and what pain you will endure. With focus and discipline, the board would break effortlessly. So much so that I was shocked and surprise that it happened. This is also the seed of over-confidence. Your mind recognized the ease at which it took place and builds the confidence in your abilities. What started as an impossible task became simple. This is true in overcoming any challenge that overcome seemly effortlessly.

A few months later, I was tested to break two boards and then demonstrate some techniques. The techniques were difficult. Rather than thinking about breaking the boards, my mine was thinking of going through those new techniques. When it was time to break the boards, I remembered how easy it was to break. So instead of focusing on my technique and attitude, I was thinking of the next set of tasks. The shock, the surprise, and the pain I went when I slammed my hand against a hard wooden board. But that did not wake me up from my over-confidence. I must have just not hit it hard enough. Again I through my hand at the board. And again I was showered with pain and surprise. Now my hand really hurt. All eyes were on me wondering if I could break that board. I tried again to slam my hand against the board even harder, but my body refused to cooperate. In my mind I was going over how much it hurt and did not want to experience more. I held back on the next attempted to still achieve more pain with less results. Great Grandmaster Kim ask me to stop and breath. That break helped clear my mind. It did not matter what are my next techniques. My focus was on this board at this moment. I notice I had got emotional because the board did not break as I had planned. What should have been simple and become the critical and challenging part of my testing.

In acknowledge where my mind had gone, I started fresh as if it was the first time I was breaking a board. I reposition myself slightly, focusing on my target. Focus on my breath, be aware of my environment yet focused on the goal. With a loud Ki-yup, I struck and broke the board.

What prevented me from breaking that board was a lack of humility. If I had been humble and approached the breaking as a new challenge (which it is), I would not have been thinking of what was coming up next. I would not have assumed that it would break easily. I would have been aware of my technique and attitude. Without this humbleness you take things for granted and lack appreciation of the moment. Humbleness allows you to be flexible to plans without getting emotional when things don't go your way.

To be able to maintain that humble attitude not only allows overcoming obstacles in the Do Jang, but in other aspects of life. In relationships, were over time we get lazy and comfortable and start taking others for granted. In business were our success can blind us from learning new things. And in life, to achieve happiness, from the recognition and appreciation of the little things.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the power of martial arts: facing fear...

Fear is a powerful force. It defines our boundaries and creates limits. In most cases this is a good thing. Fear allows us to recognize dangers and take actions to assure we will live another day to learn and grow. But recognizing fear and being controlled by fear are two different things. Recently during a demonstration Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim ask me to break cinder blocks using a martial art technique. The martial arts teach us that we can transform our bodies as weapons capable of breaking board and brick. Although the physical demonstration is impressive, the true challenge happens within your mind.

I remember the first time I broke a brick. In my mind I knew how hard that solid chunk of concrete was. I knew my hand was soft and flexible by comparison. If I fail to break the brick I was just as likely to break my hand. The only reason I would be able to break that break was to commit 100% of myself. Any hesitation would not apply the force needed to break the brick and potentially resulting a serious injury to my hand. My challenge was not breaking the brick, it was overcoming my fear.

In training in Jung SuWon, I developed confidence in my body, mind, and spirit. I knew I could get hurt, but I will not die. In many cases, the fear of getting hurt was worst than the actual injury (a bruise or a sore muscle). In training you learn you how your mind limits you real potential and as you discover more on how you body works the greater the freedom you have to "push the envelope". In Jung SuWon, the first principle in the Jung SuWon code of ethics is Body and Mind as One. As you develop your body, your mind gains strength. As you free your mind, so your body gains more freedom.

In facing those bricks, I felt fear. It did not matter whether it was my first time or my fiftieth time. But I did not let fear control me. I acknowledge it, making the moment real. Fear has a way of clearing your mind and focusing on the "now". My body responded in my commitment. There was no second chance, I had to focus all my energy here and now.

Whether it is breaking a stack of bricks or speaking in public event, we can face own fears and take control.