“Those who cram shall perish!” Dr. Wisdom informed the class as we began our studies of Koine Greek. What he meant was that sudden bursts of over-studying would never make up for the steadier, more solid understanding that regular practice and review provided. In a language class, that meant homework, drills, and repetition. Dr. Wisdom, who had taught Greek many times before, calmly announced that those who didn’t do the work but tried to overcome their lack of training all at once would inevitably fall behind and fail. By contrast, those who put in the daily work build a foundation for their future success.
It’s promotion time at Northwind Martial Arts LLC. Because of a scheduling conflict, Mr. Hartshorn will take his Il Gup promotion exam a week before the others. Mr. and Mrs. Malbraaten will take their Il Gup exams at the fall seminar with the other promoting students. Today everyone passed the challenges for the Federation requirements.
There are still some rough edges to polish, and we all have our own challenges in style and performance that rise out of our unique abilities, disabilities, training background, and life circumstances. So, if everything isn’t perfect, how could we possibly promote?
We promote because the goal of Haidong Gumdo is shimsang, the unity of mind, body, and sword. An older man like myself who has phsyical limitations may never have perfect technique, but may some day achieve shimsang. A young High School or College athlete may develop technical perfection but miss the internal requirements of the ultimate goal. As any true martial art, as opposed to thuggery, it is not possible to improve completely without incorporating psyche, or shim, along with the body. To master self and blade at once, and then apply that mastery outside of self, is a great goal.
I never train without discovering my weaknesses. I can see in my shadow and my reflection how far I have to go to improve my technique. I am simultaneously humbled and encouraged by that knowledge. I am humbled, because both younger and older our federation is full of amazing martial artists whom I will never exceed on the physical level. I am encouraged, because every day that I train is a day of victory in and of itself. Did I, this day, allow my weaknesses and challenges to defeat me before the battle started, or did I step into the training ground and do battle with the ultimate enemy, and ultimate partner, which is myself?
Not only have the nerds displayed great persistence and fortitude to advance as far as they have, they have earned the recognition of their long hours of private work. They deserve recognition for the humility and dedication that they show in the dojang. I can see how far they’ve come since the last promotion, and the road stretches out ahead for all of us to train and grow together as martial artists.
Grow we have. As we officially incorporate our Zombie drill curriculum and our sparring drill curriculum into the promotion requirements, they have stood up to the task and learned even more than they had to because of our shared dream of the dojang we wish to be. So much study is a victory of the mind. In the past months I have seen nerds overcome injuries in various ways. Sometimes they have shown the wisdom to abstain from further injuring themselves by holding back, which is a victory of wisdom. Other times they have shown the dedication to overcome their pain and discomfort to push forward, which is a victory of spirit. In all ways they have shown improvement in stance, cutting angles, muscle memory, and delivery, which is a victory of body.
That is also a victory worth celebrating as the milestone approaches. We began our training together, with the goal of becoming black belts together; that goal itself is only the goal to become martial artists together. Once we reach Chodan, or first step, then we will begin our true journeys as martial artists together. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to see them progress as martial artists, athletes, and fellow human beings.
I’m hoping that friends and family will be able to make it to Mr. Hartshorn’s promotion examination this weekend, which will be in town!