Be a Leader… Don’t just profess to be one

Martial arts trainingWho are you as a practitioner of martial arts?  What is your ranking and where did you obtain that ranking?  What does the Song Moo Kwan mean to you?  Are you a living example of the principles of Song Moo Kwan?

Why are the answers to this question important to you?  Your students?  Your community?  The World Song Moo Kwan Association?

There are many who claim Song Moo Kwan lineage.  Some years ago when I received Commendations from both the World Taekwondo Federation’s Kukkiwon and World Song Moo Kwan Association, people did not understand my comments that professed the Song Moo Kwan Certificate as meaning more to me than the former.

They did not understand the meaning behind the Song Moo Kwan, and probably never will.  This is why my comments here today are more direct and to the point.

If you cannot embrace the ranking, as well as those who got you there, then you have no business being a Member, or even a Teacher.

My belief is that there are those who teach as a business, whose only concern is how they look in someone else’s eyes.  They have no concept of what advancement means, nor the fact that you must establish and maintain a chain of organizational command that nurtures rank advancement by something more than “time.”

You do not advance by simply being able to do the form required.  You do not advance because you have been a certain rank for a certain length of time.  And, you do not advance because you decide to start your own system and therefore are the predominant 10th Degree (or whatever) Black Belt.

You also do not tout yourself as being a member of the Song Moo Kwan system of martial arts without remaining loyal to its principles, direction, and continued support of its founder, Doju Supreme Grand Master Byung Jick Ro.  Likewise, your support of WSMKA Executive Director, Hee Sang Ro.

Your only claim is that you passed a test at some point in time that gave you a rank you used to obtain something higher.  That is called “paperhanging.”  You obtained rank with a false promise of obedience to Song Moo Kwan’s tenets, then sought higher ranking because of its obvious position within the martial arts community.  Thus, you are “talking the talk but not walking the walk.”

Let’s look at what it takes to DO something more:

utah_trainingIn Utah, we trained students and withheld going to a tournament for two years while preparing.  Then, we went to tournament and won multiple medals.  We trained harder, then went back and each student entry won a medal.  Then, other schools complained that we were winning all the medals.  Enough said.

Another tournament, I saw the Tournament Grand Master being disrespected in his absence.  We took over running of the tournament, assigned my Black Belt seniors to handle preparation and implementation.  As I had taught them, we showed up in our slacks, blazer white shirts/skirts and ties, and shamed the other schools at their lack of enthusiasm for attendance, and assistance – by simply by being professional.  The tournament ended at 5pm, as scheduled.  We represented Song Moo Kwan that day, and every day.

Don’t whine about what you can’t do; the people who let you down; the circumstances that permitted you to rest when you should have been working; or, your personal failures for not being able to perform one technique or another.  Time and age will limit you (only to a degree).  What you give back is to your students, to your association, and to yourself in respectful application of those tenets professed, and embraced.

So, someone disagreed with how you teach.  Someone wants the pennies that you would make off a uniform sale and not pay percentages to the parent organization.  If the parent organization has structured your success, then you have no claim to those pennies.  This is where the old adage; “Penny wise and pound foolish” comes into play.

There is a hierarchy to advancement.  There are rules.  They may have not been applied for many years, but they remain.  What it takes is the courage to see it through.  What it takes is the ability to stifle your ego for the greater good of your lineage.  An unbroken lineage.

Who taught you to tie your belt a certain way, to put on that suit before a tournament?  To tie your dobok bundle?  Who already knew, when you didn’t have the fees to pay your dues, or for your test (and paid them for you)?  Who gave you the training hall, as an Instructor, that didn’t cost you a dime?

Why do people leave their Association?

smk_training_sessionIn most cases it is because they have had their feelings hurt.  They have lost confidence in those who trained them.  Or, they have decided to believe that they are superior.  That their instructors were/are fakes.  Here’s the truth people: If your instructor was a fake, so were/are you!  So you had better decide the reasons behind your selfishness and get rid of your excuses.

Those who are appointed as seniors, grandmasters, etcetera, have been granted a special place in the martial arts community.  They have been given that appointment to test their veracity to progress.  To see if they appreciate all that has been given to them.  And, to see what that person is ready to give back in return.  If all you do is profess to be something, and fail to build up your branch of the association, then you have no one to blame but yourself when you are passed over for rank advancement.

Not everyone can be a 6th, 7th, 8th, or even 9th Dan Black Belt legitimately.  Ego is what permits some to go their way, living on the glories of the past.  And, your Instructor (the person who trained you) is the one you should thank for advancement.  Without their knowledge (those higher up recognizing your Instructor’s ability) you would either have failed, or not even been considered.

Legitimately, there is a process.

smk_trainingNot too long ago, I asked a 3rd Dan in Chile when he would be ready for 4th Dan.  His answer was one I had not heard in 20 years or so.  In humility, this fine martial artist stated; “Sir, I have only been promoted this past year to 3(B) rate of Black Belt.”  So, does your Instructor know what an A, B or C ranking is to a 3rd Dan Black Belt?   If not, then maybe their loss is to your benefit to gain.

Your ranking is decided on and off the mat.  Your conduct toward others and the Association remains constant.  We do not care that you had your hips or knees replaced.  We care that your word will be bound by the promises you make.  And, that your service to the American Song Moo Kwan Association, and its parent, World Song Moo Kwan Association, will always be honored.

An interesting thing occurred last year.  I received a bunch of seals back from someone who had been holding them for me.  The interesting part was that my personal and rank seals were not included.  A “copy” of each of these seals was included.  Someone had made rubber seals of my ranking and name.  Also included, was a seal of one of my grand masters.  Just his name seal.  It was almost an exact match – with the exception of one glitch.  What should you think when someone you trusted delivers your property with items missing, and an extra item?

I am a direct student of Grand Master Byung Hoon Park and Grand Master Yong Kil Kim.  I have written prior that I was directed by Grand Master Yong Kil Kim to go back to Tucson and close my former school as a former prior student/instructor (2nd Dan) went back east for a month and returned as a 5th Dan Black Belt in a Japanese system.  The Korean flag was gone.  The Rising Sun replaced that flag.  I closed that school without ever engaging in combat.  I did so as Young Master to Grand Master Byung Hoon Park, and Young Master to Grand Master Yong Kil Kim of the Dosan Gymnasium in Los Angeles, California.

My allegiance is to Supreme Grand Master Byung Jick Ro, Senior Grand Master Hee Sang Ro, and all my Song Moo Kwan Grandmasters, Seniors, Equals, Juniors, and even potential students.

So, this rather lengthy narration is meant to convey one thing only:  I am Song Moo!  No matter where I have gone, and what I have done, my principles remain.  It’s none of my business what you think of me.  But it is my business to act in accordance with my oath and character.  Always being led by World Song Moo Kwan Association leaders, that my legacy be sure and proper.

Let us always be mindful of the fact that “Reputation” is who people think you are, but “Character” is who you are when no one is watching.  We should strive to always have a Character that honors the tenets of Song Moo Kwan.  If we succeed our Reputation will eventually take care of itself.

Grand Master Kirk Koskella