An Instagram photo posted by Hananya Naftali (@hnaftali) on Jul 27, 2016 at 6:12am PDT

Haidong Gumdo, as with all fitness and martial arts, would be easy enough if life were like the movies, but the truth is that we do not start off like action heroes; we don’t start off in pretty good shape, get a few pep talks, a training montage of less than five minutes with a catchy and upbeat tune, and then step out to defeat the Kobra Kai and end the bullying forever.


One of the things that I like much better about the original Karate Kid film was that Daniel Laruso caused almost as much of his problems as he encountered unsought (He wasn’t perfect.)  I also enjoyed the very true journey that usually involved watching the poor kid look like he had been run over by a truck.

Why?  Because I am a sadist?  (There have been lively discussions about that from those who have joined me for kibon donchak, but that is besides the point.)  No, because it is life.

The reality of the martial arts, if they are martial arts for everyone, is that most of us are broken in one way or another.  We each have our own flaws and challenges.  Sometimes they are mental or emotional.  Some of us have enduring physical limitations that don’t go away, or have had illnesses.  Heck, some of us just aren’t going to be young again no matter what we do!

What does that mean?  Is our journey as martial artists ruined?  By no means!  Our goal in Haidong Gumdo is to become the best martial artists we can be.  Note, please, that does not mean the best martial artist others can be.  If you need to take time to heal, to deal with family, to be responsible at work or at home, then that is the best path for your journey.  In fact, I would say that you would betray martial ethics if you did not do those things.

But neither should you view illness, injury, obligation, or setbacks as a failure.  Do not let them discourage you from your goal to be the best martial artist you can possibly be.  Accept the challenges as part of being a ‘real’ martial artist, and push on.  That is the correct path, and we will cheer you on as you journey.