I just filled out 15 birthday cards this morning for my students and I loved it! Each card I fill out I try and do something personal to remind them how much I appreciate and love them. Today I did a little doodle of a stick person doing karate and told them they are awesome. I traced my hand the other day to give a student a high five via the card. I wrote a students name 50 times on a card so when they got to the end I made sure I had their attention. I also make check lists, tell jokes and I always remind them how grateful I am that they allow me to be a part of their life. Yes they allow me to be a part of their life is the correct verbiage. They can always be a part of mine but I have to earn the right to stay in theirs. I take that very seriously and maintain that level of humility in all that I can and will do for them. They decide to be my students and for that I am grateful. I tell them I love them all the time and they look at me weird like the word love is exclusive to parents and grandparents. I try and make them aware that love is why I do what I do. Love is the answer to all the worlds problems and most importantly it's the reason I get to write them a birthday card. I'll keep saying it until they believe it when I am no longer able to say it anymore. The best gift I can give them on their special day is for them to know that I think they are pretty amazing and that I am so very proud to be a part of their lives.
It's not my favorite quality to spin on things but I am a work in progress. A basic lack of human kindness and a modest amount of respect is one of those things that really bothers me. This week in class the Mat Chat just happens to be......Respect. We rotate every two weeks on a topic involving developing a strong character and have some great discussions. These Mat Chats are the most important part of our program and we have 204 topics we rotate throughout the years. You see anyone can kick or punch (check out Youtube if you don't believe me) but respect is like that extra magical ingredient that separate us from most activities. My students are awesome no doubt and they are all learning character traits that are not being valued as much anymore. Why do we focus on things that have little value or that people just think are silly? I feel it's still the right thing to do. You see forgetting to say Sir or Ma'am are not a option in my class they are an absolute. I call my students Sir or Ma'am always with no exceptions. I never yell at them or be little them ever. I never humiliate or make them feel less than period. I never punish them in front of others or in private, but I do honor their choices because I respect their ability to be human sometimes make mistakes. We all make mistakes and how we react to them sends them on a path of growth or on a path self doubt. You see I am up against every electronic gadget and excuse every dreamt of. There are a million things they could be doing besides improving and challenging themselves and I understand and appreciate that. When they come to my school there have been many sacrifices made to be there at that moment on both our parts. Respect is the acknowledgement of those sacrifices and our own unique abilities and qualities. I always tell the kids when they answer me with "yep" or "yeah" or "hey you" or even worse "dude" that those are my cousins and my name is "Sir" or Mr. Tibbetts or Master Tibbetts and I only answer to those names. I follow up that gentle reminder with a sir or ma'am at the end. I value respect in all it's forms because respect and love are pretty cool counterparts. I make it a point to lead by example. I don't need to burden anyone else with my shortcomings but I can honor the person in front of me for who they are and whom they wish to be by showing them a little respect.
I am going to start saying I teach Leadership Kwon Do to theses unassuming folks (in a polite way of course)! I picture the blank look that will follow so I will undoubtedly explain as follows. You know the kind martial arts style that makes you walk through life’s ups and downs with your chin up. I teach secret techniques that inspires your family and friends daily. The style of martial arts that gives you the drive to be better than you were yesterday. It’s the self reliant kind of martial arts style that gets you out of life's difficult situations that other people would hide from. Or my personal favorite the martial arts style of leadership that gives you the courage to follow your dreams. At this point the confused person in front of me or on the phone will say “oh thats cool, my second cousin on my aunts side did (insert mispronounced something here) martial arts. The next question they always ask is how much are your classes? I politely smile on the inside because free would still be to expensive for both of us. Reread the above and tell me what you think these lessons and this style of martial arts is worth? I would say priceless but then again maybe I teach the wrong “style” of martial arts for you.
*Author note: From time to time I do get this question from serious enthusiasts or thorough parents, but for the most part it’s from tire kickers. Those are the parents looking for a Groupon type activity and not looking for the life enhancing benefits of martial arts for their child. If your reading this than you already know about Leadership Kwon Do.
I have a very male energy about me and that can be a bit intimidating at times. On the inside I am just a big soft hearted guy. I love what I do and love the people that appreciate my efforts. I struggle in non martial arts settings to connect with people and thats alright. Most people never pull back the curtain understand that it took a lifetime to do what I am able to do today. I truly do mean a lifetime and that's not just an expression. I have spent the last 40 years learning and applying my craft, I have traveled thousands of miles to learn and compete, I have slept in my car and on the floors of strangers to learn, I have spent more money than I care to remember to educate myself to become a better teacher, I have broken many bones and bled to learn from some of the greats, I have been taken advantage of financially and intellectually by others, I have taken countless notes, spent money on programs and things I never used, I have spent 15- 20 hours a day training to learn new material to pass on, I have been up all night to help grow my school and provide the best lessons possible, I have had students pass away, I have spent holidays away from my family, I have worked two and sometimes three full-time jobs to get by, I have had to start over many times to be where I am today. You see I believe in you. I don't teach an "activity" or ancient mystic art. I teach faith. All the lessons I have learned have been about faith. Faith in myself is the deepest lesson I have been given through martial arts. I have give up so much to give the lesson of faith to you. Sometimes I have gone with out just so I could give to you. Faith and time is all I have ever had and is all I can ever give. The vehicle is martial arts of course but the values and the lessons took a lifetime to learn. In life we are lucky to meet people that believe in us. When we find those people we need to learn as much as we can while we can. Things change and people change. Faith in yourself should never change. I hope ego and pride won't steal your faith. I will keep trying to teach my lessons learned. I hope you do too.