Get Involved

For the month of February, I will touch on the subject of “being involved”. I recently posted something about this on Facebook, and the subject seemed to be of interest to a number of people.  Let me begin by telling you that there has been a tremendous change (for the worse) in the way students seem to participate in events that are planned for their benefit. Where I could easily count on a full bus load of some 40 plus students to accompany me to tournaments, I am lucky to have two or three join me in the fun now.

So, what does this mean? To me, this means that many of today’s martial art students are not getting all of the benefits available to them. Training two or three times a week gives you a decent opportunity to learn an art; however, your knowledge base WILL be limited to whatever experience your Instructor has.

With many school owners having limited experience themselves, this causes a downward spiral of knowledge the student has access to. Folks, if you truly want to become an awesome martial artist, it is not enough to learn what your Instructor knows… even if he shares ALL he knows (and many will NEVER share all they know).

To become a well rounded martial artist, you need to experience as much as you are able to absorb. This does NOT mean you should not be loyal to your Instructor, it simply means that you should never limit yourself in ANYTHING you do. In fact, a good Instructor will INSIST that you get better than he ever was.

Some lucky students joined a school that makes it possible to expand your horizons in many ways. Instructors of those schools will bring in talented guest Instructors, offer “in school” seminars with some of the greatest Grandmasters still alive, or offer to take you to events such as the Korean Martial Art Festival. The Korean Martial Art Festival has been dubbed as THE Korean martial arts event to attend by both, Black Belt and Tae Kwon Do Times, magazines.

I had the good fortune to assist Master Thomas Gordon in starting this event, and I was a Keynote Instructor since the very beginning. If here is nothing else you can do to expand your horizons, THIS is an event you should not miss.

My blatant advertising of this event is by no means solicited, nor do I benefit by talking about it. My ONLY reason for sharing it with you is because I am truly interested in having YOU, the student, benefit from my experience. To learn more about the KMAF, check online for Master Thomas Gordon or the Korean Martial Arts Festival.

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Above is a flyer put out by the host of the KMAF, CM Thomas Gordon. I chose to place it here, because it serves two functions. First, it has some info on how to contact the organizers, and second because it gives the readers of this blog an idea who is the blogger.

Naturally, there are other events well deserving your participation, and I encourage students to take advantage of as many of them as you can manage. If you have a family, make it a family vacation. They will love you for it 🙂

Some events may have the appearance that they will not be of much benefit to you, and one such event might be attending a Hall Of Fame. I don’t mean the type of HOF where everyone who pays for an expensive meal gets inducted, I mean a TRUE Hall Of Fame, where YOU get nothing. Ahhhh, but WAIT. Does attending such a Hall Of Fame REALLY mean you get nothing in return? Hardly so my friend. By spending quality time with the icons and legends of Korean Martial arts, you WILL learn, and you may learn things not available anywhere else.

By carefully listening to whatever these legends chat about (YES, hang out with them before and after the event. Hang out with them as much as you can, and keep your ears wide open). You may just be privy to a tidbit of information that will NEVER be repeated. The unfortunate truth is that some of these legends may not be around much longer, and you may never get another opportunity to learn from them again. Do NOT miss these precious moments.

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Above
A photo of Grandmaster James McMurray, who was recently inducted into the Korean Martial Arts Masters Hall Of Fame. Grandmaster McMurray has more than fifty years experience, and attended of the event learned much from him during the weekend.
GM McMurray is flanked by some of his students, who traveled all the way from Texas to Canada in order to support their Master. Notice the full military dress of some of the students he teaches at Fort Hood.
Below

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A photo of Grandmasters Rudy W. Timmerman (Canada) and Juerg Ziegler (Switzerland), who pose with student Patrick Schaller (Germany) at the KMA Masters Hall Of Fame held in Canada last August. As you can clearly see, SOME martial artists will travel thousands of miles to an important event. Not only did they learn at the event, they also enjoyed the many cultural experiences such events offer. It is ALL about dedication and learning.

Traveling to an event… a few hundred dollars or more, having your photo taken with Grandmasters… the cost of a decent camera, getting on the mats with icons and legends who may not be with us much longer… PRICELESS.

In closing my first blog, I’d like to chat a bit about dedication, loyalty, and learning.
Attending events such as seminars, competitions, and Halls Of Fame can run from fifty bucks to a thousand dollars, and it all depends on where you are traveling to in order to BE there, and some schools go way overboard by draining all of the financial resources their students have. IMHO, the latter is not a good recipe for success.

So what is so important about BEING there? Well, there are many benefits, and I’ll name just a few of them here. You will enjoy making lifetime friends with people from around the Globe, and that may result in having you visit them sometime in the future. You will most certainly learn MANY things, and not just martial arts. You will gain the experience afforded only to traveler, and THAT can make a significant difference to future job opportunities.

In addition, you will become a better, well versed, martial artist. You will gain notoriety that is usually reserved for people who are more known than others… the kind of reputation you ONLY get by being on the mats with the best Instructors in our arts. THIS is the kind of reputation that you can “take to the bank” LITERALLY.

With that, I mean that before long, people will want to learn from YOU. This is because you will have gained the confidence, knowledge, and reputation that the icons and leaders of martial arts have. In other words, YOU will be a future icon. Such a reputation can NOT be gotten by having your photo taken with an icon, and then sitting out the actual mat time.

People will REMEMBER you sitting it out, and THAT will give you an entirely different reputation. Yep, the same kind of reputation that you can find in any McDojang. Loads of photos on the wall of the Instructor and real Masters, but NOTHING in the bag when it comes to mat knowledge. A recipe for disaster not only to those kind of school owners, it is a disaster for martial arts period.

The students from Texas who traveled thousands of miles to BE THERE for their instructor are pictured here because the icons remember them. They built a reputation, and there was not a soul in the Hall who did not appreciate their loyalty. THAT is how you make a good reputation.

The student who traveled all the way from Germany to Canada will likewise be remembered. He not only had his photo taken, he was on the mat training, and later during the event he demonstrated his art. HE will be remembered, because he displayed the kind of dedication that is rare these days.

Grandmaster Ziegler was NOT scheduled to be inducted into the KMAMasters Hall Of Fame, and he was totally unaware I had personally nominated him. HE came to simply support an event he thought worth his time and effort… all at his own expense. He might have been blown away that he was chosen to be inducted, but the organizers were not. You see, We KNOW what makes an icon, and he showed all in attendance how BEING there again and again WILL get you the attention required to Soar With The Best.

Rudy W. Timmerman
kwanjang