The concept of teamwork is by no means unique to Haidong Gumdo, Tae Kwon Do, or Tang Soo Do, but for me it is a great motivator to get training.

Every week, I train with my fellow nerds in Bemidji, or I train with the awesome martial arts community in Chisolm.  They have seen me the week or the month before.  They saw what I did then, and they are going to witness how I perform that week.

When I accepted the leadership role, it hit me for a moment that I wouldn’t have to keep track of my repetitions of this form, that stance focus, or ssangsu-palchukgum one through whatever.

Why?  It isn’t because it doesn’t matter, it’s because the record sheet is no longer a motivator.  I have better ones.  Every week that I bow in I’ve got friends, now students, who saw what I could do last week, and a month ago.  They aren’t going to know or care how many tally marks are on my record sheet.  They’re going to care if I can do it right, consistent, and know the art well enough that I can pass on the knowledge while I show them the do, the way of manifesting and integrating the art.

If you think that means I can get away with practicing less, because the accountability is looser, then you have never tried to teach something.

When I bow in to class on Sunday and look the Northwind crew in the eye, I’m going to know if I trained hard enough to feel confident in front of them.  When I lead kibon doncha, they’re going to see all my mistakes, and if they’re bad enough it’s going to keep me from correcting theirs.  It’s easier to see a fraud in martial arts than a forgery in most dollar bills.

When I was a student, I was in friendly competition with the rest of the Nerd Posse.  Our goal was to race to black belt.  To be fair, the goal was to begin to train in Haidong Gumdo, said training beginning with Cho Dan (1st degree black belt).  Now I’ve sidestepped that competition.  I’m not running beside them to cheer them on.  It’s my duty to run ahead of them to help lay down the path so that they can reach their goal.

Master Koivisto would very much like me to be the one to hand the Nerd Posse their black belts.  In order to be that master, I will have had to do everything they will, but alone in front of a panel of masters.  That’s called my master’s exam, and it’s scheduled for this fall.  I’m already training for it.  (Lose gut, focus more, cross train with Krav Maga and Tang Soo Do, and do a bajillion repetitions of everything I can, for starters.)

Through that journey, I will have my friends to train with.  (Here’s a little illustration of team training from Best of the Best for motivation, because who doesn’t like a visual aid?)

Whether or not they see it, my friends and fellow artists at Northwind Martial Arts and the gracious foster family we have at Range Martial Arts have replaced quotas and lists for my training motivation.

All they had to do was to be there to look me in the eye.