Monday, June 26, 2006

Camping, the Martial Arts, and Lessons Learned

The last four days have been spent camping on Lake Allatoona with 20 Tae Kwon Do students and Mr. and Mrs. Master Lenix, along with their son, Master Mitt Lenix. This was a training session and team building event in the outdoors. We persevered through 103 degree heat and thunder storms. I was honored by being in their presence and serving them in any way possible. I had a wonderful time with them, the students, and my oldest son, who will one day be better than me.

I’m going to write this entry as a person who has been in the martial arts for over twenty years. Please understand my point of view and feel free to challenge/disagree with me.

Traditionally speaking, students of the martial arts have always helped their instructors with everything from cleaning the dojo/dojang to providing the instructor water. Whether class was taking place or not, the student provided assistance to the instructor. The student, in turn, developed a heart for service, discipline, trust, and loyalty.

Today’s young martial artists need to know that being a martial artist is more than just learning and practicing the art itself; it is much more. A true martial artist lives by their character and their heart. They practice discipline, patience, respect, loyalty, integrity, a positive attitude and much more. Their character is present not only in the dojo/dojang, but at home, school, church, and in public.

During the camp, I witnessed students as young as nine years–old display the characteristics of a true martial artist. They persevered through tough obstacles and kept a positive attitude despite light workouts in high heat. They NEVER complained. A few of the teenage students were the same way. They really enjoyed the camping experience, the stories, and fun we all had. To witness these students smile, after a ½ mile run in 90 degree heat, is wonderful. These are the students who are becoming martial artists and understand what it takes to be one. Lastly, they offered their services, to their instructors or fellow students, to aid them with tasks and still never complained.

Yet to the students who did show the character of a martial artist, there were those who did not. These students complained and their attitude was poor. They never once offered to help the instructors or fellow students. They couldn’t wait to go home and return to their comfortable settings. Many missed their fast food and sleeping until noon. Some were even unappreciative and disrespectful with the instructors.

We all make choices in life.

We choose to make a difference.

We choose our attitude.

We choose our character.

Finally, a little bit of humor.

One of the many wonderful gifts a martial arts instructor(s) can give to their students are stories of the good ‘ol days. For example, I loved to listen to Master William Lenix tell us his past experiences in the kickboxing ring and the fighters he’s met.

Lo and behold, the young students (9 – 14 year-olds) in our group didn’t recognize such names as Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis, Howard Jackson, Don Wilson, Bill Wallace, Jhoon Rhee, Gene LeBell, Wally Jay, or Ed Parker, just to name a few.

Master Lenix and I looked at each in astonishment. I don't know about Master Lenix, but I felt sooo old. ;-)


John Vesia said...

Character building that is acquired through sincere and authentic martial arts training will reveal itself everywhere.

Norris, Lee, Parker -- do we have an equivalent of these individuals today?

Mark said...


In answer to your great question, no, I do not believe we have an equivalent nor will we in years to come.

I could be wrong, but I just don't see it.