Monday, May 13, 2013

train for rank or fitness: a difference?!

Rank or Fitness: there’s a difference?

We are not born strong; we are not born wise. 
We can lose the one over time. 
We can lose both in the space of a single choice. 
We can lose the other by seeing only with ego.
If we pursue enlightenment, then strength, wisdom, and the true end of ego are both gained and served.

It is an honor to get to share input about this kwoon where I have not yet even been for two months! I speak freely and candidly when Shi zu asks me because I have come to understand how Shi zu weighs what he hears before he acts; he does not take counsel lightly and is his own thinker. This is especially difficult as a business owner, husband, and parent. 

I’m not trying to suck up to Shi zu or make him larger than life—you have met him! Decide for yourself whether you agree with my statements. I share this blog to illustrate aspects of our school that I have rarely found in my experience:

1. We study and practice in a school whose philosophy and methods evolve under a leader whose concern is...noble.

I can’t think of a better word, which is why I add the pause. 

Consider what Shi zu is capable of doing and teaching us. Who among us has had an undeserving or incompetent boss at work? They’re the ones who say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” or demand crazy money from customers to do a halfhearted job because it pays the bills, but they have no integrity or self-respect? Shi zu can sell out and make everyone happy in the short term, robbing us of development and challenge and destroying his own integrity in the process. No, thanks. I’ve already had that. 

When money gets involved, it threatens integrity. You could work nearly 150 hours at $10 per hour to earn $1000 after taxes, or you could do something stupid and humiliating in a spring break contest for the same amount. Which do you think most people might choose? Which one builds the individual up? Yet both exist so we may choose.

2. We attend a school where the standards are in place to respect and challenge us wholly and wholesomely, not to identify us as wanting. 

I see Shi zu  against a tragic failure to connect one of the FUNDAMENTAL aspects of FMK: 


There is nothing more boring or difficult than to try to live someone else’s life; you don’t need me to tell you this, but if you do, there you go! Think on it. Shi zu strives to create a place where we discover our own Kung fu. We’re not all going to turn into little Freddies, running around and teaching FMK. How many times does he say  I will stick with the overarching goal Shi zu has for us until I find it is no longer worth my effort not because it gets in the way of what I do...I will leave if I should ever discover it limits my authentic growth.

3. We study and practice with a Sifu who has a greater appreciation of the standard true “art” needs but has been lost in so many places that claim to be about art. 

I was talking with Nu Ying (Amanda) recently, a metalsmith and an artist by trade and training. I asked her what she would think if she were granted the title, “master welder,” along with a bunch of other welders who did shoddy work, burning through their welds, applying too much heat and weakening the metal they worked with?

You can guess her reaction. Watering down the title does no favors. It gives us BAD ART, whether to create, appreciate, or use. Which "master welder" do you want fixing the frame of your car??

When we train in AND OUT of the kwoon, it is on each of us to grow and accept the path of setbacks and gains; it is on Shi zu to be honest about what represents the kwoon. The color shirt one wears means nothing if the standard is not behind it, and I appreciate far more how hard a poor person works than I do the rich man who got rich winning the lottery. This is why I am glad for the new time and attendance standards for rank. 

I am grateful to see how Shi zu continues to modify the programming and his approach to FMK. It is a great challenge to provide students what they need, keep a business viable (when greed, prestige, and fame are not the primary motivators), and identify and maintain high standards for the sake of authentic art, both his and ours. 

I don’t need a colored shirt to grow. Should I attain rank, I will need to keep growing to respect what a colored shirt might mean to an outsider. I choose to pursue rank without seeking rank. I choose to stay at FMK because so many other Todai have shown such maturity and growth in this transition.


  1. Love the post, thank you very much for sharing & opening up to us all.

  2. Great. That is exactly how I am pursuing the rank!


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