I realize that there are those out there who will have “no idea” what I am talking about.  If that’s you, just skip this article.  Move on to your regularly ‘no-thought-needed programming.’  However, if you are one who walks the walk, this is for you.

My wife had me make note of a comment posted on Facebook a while back; “You don’t really know if someone’s your friend until they defend you when you’re not around.” (Unknown)

There are those who don’t really understand friendship and count a friend as some sort of association that has degrees or stages of the term “friend.” In other words, you are their best friend at work.  Another person is their best friend at the bridge club, the ball park, or when attending concerts.

That can translate to marriage.  There comes another problem. And that is where the “L” word comes into play; “Loyalty.”  Most people can recognize true loyalty in a marriage.  They recognize when partners exclude situations or scenarios where their fidelity may be compromised.  If “trust” is broken in a marriage, then the bonds of that marriage may be irreparably harmed.  The days of working it out are long gone as people set themselves up for divorce with prenuptials, short term open marriages, and faithless reasoning of what constitutes loyalty. Then come the words… “I love you, but I am not ‘in love’ with you.”

Okay, so how does that equate to the Dojang…

Song Moo Kwan Loyalty

To our Grand Master, Master, and Instructor?

You chose your instructor, or association.  Maybe you left because someone said something to you that hurt your feelings.  Maybe it was that you did not feel challenged, or simply lost faith in your instructor – when so many others did not.  Maybe the perception that you were deceived into believing them greater than they ever were was replaced with the reality that they are only human. Whatever the case, the question you must ask yourself is; “What, or who, helped get me where I am today?”

If you claim your former Association or Instructor is bogus, or somehow nullified, then how can you assert your ranking that was given under them?  If you now claim to be a 10th Degree High Muckey-muck, while you make claims of fraud against the place where you received your 2nd to 7th Degree Black Belt – Then who is the fraud?”

If you were mistaken and simply permitted pride to rule your life for a time, what is the harm in letting others know that you, too, are human.  Having succumbed to a world in which you are not the be-all-end-all of your martial arts world.

Let’s take a breath…

The Association, Federation, or Individual who had pronounced your rank deserved Loyalty.  Not hopping from one association to another.  Or, joining a regional association which is nothing more than a group of masters who didn’t like the requirements for rank advancement prescribed – so they decided to start their own.

Grand Master Bong Soo Han requested I cease training and assisting a well-known master of Taekwondo and Hapkido.  He did so as his research denoted the depth of training received by this man.  He was several generations removed from the origins of both art forms.  I stopped immediately upon request, even as I had been offered a high position of leadership is that organization.

He also asked me to choose between Hapkido and Song Moo Kwan.  Then permitted me to retain both.  My explanation was in relation to the principles taught by Grand Master Byung Hoon Park, then successively by Grand Master Yong Kil Kim – both of Song Moo Kwan.

Loyalty causes one who understands its precepts to remain when all others have disappeared.  It does not matter the claim, the lesson, or the reason given.  It is based upon respect.  Just as Grand Master Byung Hoon Park expects all his students to remain loyal to this day, so too, those that are taught under each successive Black Belt have the duty to respect their teachers and school.  That loyalty should never waiver.

This is what Grand Master Han found when we spoke of Supreme Grand Master Byung Jick Ro, and his chosen successor, Senior Grand Master Hee Sang Ro.  My resolve to see the tenets of Song Moo Kwan remain, regardless of all else, caused others to see the benefit of capturing, nurturing and refining their respective arts forms under a single banner; “Loyalty.”

Loyalty comes from the little things.  Those who are selfless will automatically see the value in what is being taught and give plaques or letter of remembrance to their instructors at testing, tournament, and honored events.  Whether that “thank you” is done in public or private. Those who do not simply collect their belts and go home.  Believing their personal achievements alone are due to be rewarded.

Little does that student understand that the ability of their instructor to sustain a good life depends on financial undertakings as well as the teaching.  The remuneration of fees to a school, association, test, etc., assists in building your heritage, your legacy.  When that connection is lost, who remains?

Can you recite your unbroken heritage back to the founder?  Can you neglect those that give you knowledge and then praise your use of it to succeed?  Or, is the chase of an almighty dollar clouding the fact that you have lost your integrity?

There are those who attempt to call themselves first or second generation Song Moo Kwan.  They are not such.  Only those that trained under the founder, and those that remain under the banner of the World Song Moo Kwan® Association tutelage are able to sustain that right.  And those pretenders must now decide for themselves whether they are Loyal to the Oaths and Covenants they one made to those governing, or be called out as imposters.

Loyalty can be summed up without equivocation; “I AM SONG MOO KWAN!”

If that is true, then get busy being that example.

Okay.  The rant is over. Now for a reality check. We say we teach traditional values, traditional martial arts, and promote character, integrity and loyalty.  If that is true, then we need to be sure to walk the walk.  Maybe we do forget the extent of our example.  We need to remember; we have no excuse when our students walk away to join with others when we, ourselves don’t live up to our professed teachings.

Once in a while we will take on someone from another school or instructor.  They may be good, or bad when the truth of their allegiance becomes known.  They may be influenced by others. But the fact remains, if their reasoning behind training with you was selfish, then they will end up lonely and abandoned themselves.  The real person comes out when others are not present to hear that failure to defend.  That is when fantasy is permitted to replace reality.

If you truly understood the accomplishments of your masters, and the accomplishments lauded by others of those accomplishments, then it is up to you to define why you have abdicated your role as supporter, defender and legacy holder.  It matters not what your accomplishments may be in life when one person can destroy that legacy with a false word.

The humble, honorable man does not base his life on boasting of his accomplishments.  He is more likely to speak of your accomplishments.

He will not speak to defend himself. That choice is left for you to determine. That is how both your legacies are built.



Grand Master Kirk Koskella,  8th Dan