Letter from Kuksanim - 100% Participation
For us the championships, tournaments, seminars, the activities, the events, is all an expression of our love, created by a labor of love, and an opportunity to commune, share, and unite as one global family. I wanted to say “One big global family”, but we are not, we are actually very small in comparison to other martial arts and I am not sure that we will ever be much bigger in numbers as that is not our only aim.
Our aim is to be true to what we do, to be genuine, authentic and be honest with ourselves and others. Not to brag or boast, or to say that I am the greatest, that I am the best, but to do our best so that we can collectively be the best. Although, many martial art groups have great numbers in membership, only a very few ever participate in their own sponsored events about 1% to 5% if they are lucky; whereas we have almost 80% participation. That is astounding!
However, my goal, my vision for Hwa Rang Do is 100% participation!
In this digital format, there should be no excuse for anyone not to participate as all people have phones and all phones have cameras. However, we have many who did not participate and even who registered but failed to meet the deadline for submissions, which is irresponsible and undisciplined, which are negative character traits for any person, but especially for a Hwa Rang Do practitioner that is unacceptable.
There may be many excuses, oh but you say, that they are not excuses, but good reasons. To all who make excuses, they are all good reasons and valid, however absurd or ridiculous, or else they wouldn’t be making them. I once had a student tell me that his dog ate his belt and he was very serious about it, almost in tears, then a week later it miraculously appeared under his bed.
In my opinion the world is essentially made up of two kinds of people, people who make excuses and people who do not, and then these are the following sub-categories; people who do and people who do not, people who talk and people who take action, people who make promises and people who always do more than expected, people who settle and people who are unyielding, people who complain and people who take ownership, people who blame and people who take claim. Ah, and there’s people who say nothing and do nothing and expect nothing. Not really as no such person exists. And, being either one or the other kind of person is determined by your own decision of whom you choose to be. If you do not agree and that you think that you are born as such and had no choice, then you are an animal and not a human being.
The quality of being human is possessing consciousness to be self-aware and as such we are the only living species who are endowed to make conscious decisions amongst many choices, unbound by instinct, habitat, pack order, or any other external forces. This quality is our greatest and most powerful attribute, but the majority of us choose to live like animals, constantly comparing to other inferior species for wisdom and moral guidance; abandoning the self-empowered freedom of choice and fall for to the mob mentality of victimhood, systemic oppression, robbing us of our freedom and dignity.
We are living in an absurd fabricated dystopian world where we bicker, fight, and argue over such nominal concepts of race, color, and gender; and further suppressed by fear of death by covid or catastrophic apocalypse by climate change, rather than focusing on maximizing the human self with all the vast knowledge and technologies at our disposal especially throughout the industrialized nations, we are systematically led to be slaves to our feelings and of minimalizing rational thought, our greatest attribute.
In Hwa Rang Do our goal is to empower the individual, to strengthen their will and spirit, to be self-reliant and independent, to believe in their own ability to accomplish their God given purpose, and when they fall or hit a wall and they shall, they will have the fortitude, perseverance, and the intellect to recover stronger, endure greater, and find a way to overcome.
That is our AIM, our goal, our mission!
There are a few who have won in this first ever Digital Championships merely by participation alone. I want to commend you and applaud you in your diligence and perseverance. I have said many times that we are not competing against each other, but are fighting against our own self, our own laziness and complacency, our own fears and doubts, our own ego and pride, that is our true enemy which we must overcome at all costs in order to live our lives to its fullest.
Some student and even instructors have said, or rather made an excuse, “I didn’t know it was mandatory.”
Let me ask you, what is mandatory and what is not? So, if we were to say that it is mandatory then will you make sure to never miss another event? And then what events are not mandatory and are optional? If we were to say that it was optional, would anyone participate? Oh, you meant, you didn’t know that it was important so we should have stated that it was an important event. Ok the same question, if we said it was important then will you make sure never to miss an event? And, furthermore, if we stated that an event is unimportant then will any of you attend?
You see, these questions are absurdities. But, to make it clear to all of you now once and for all, all the events and activities, and even your weekly classes, they are all important and they are all mandatory. That is what you signed up for or made promise to. This is also life. Life is a participation sport, it is not an observational activity. Life is to experience, not to read or talk about it, but to do it and live it. Hwa Rang Do is life and it is a life you chose, and all that we do is so that you can experience this life to its fullest, to gain the most benefits, and to become the exemplar of humanity, of a Flowering Knight.
So those of you who placed and won by participation, don’t fret or be disappointed as you truly deserve it. It means that you persevered while others dropped out and quit. It’s because you didn’t intend to win or compete against others, but desired and took joy in participating as a Hwarang glad of the opportunity, reaffirming your connection and belongingness to our Hwa Rang Do family, so endurance has paid off and you have been rewarded.
Others who have won in the past desired to compete, to prove that they are the best or better than others and by winning they have proven themselves and don’t feel the need to continue to prove by participating. They’re focus is on winning and not on participating, on themselves and not on the group. So, they sit back, retire from competition with the reasoning of being gracious to allow others to win. Let me remind to those once again that it is not about competition, but participation! Furthermore, let me remind you once again that the reason for competition for us is not for self-glory but to push others to become better and stronger by being and doing the best that we possibly can.
Then there are those who do not compete nor participate for whatever reason, at its core it’s mostly due to fear. Then, I say to those, that is exactly why you must do because you are afraid of it as we are warriors, and our goal is overcome the enemy of fear. Then there are those who minimize and feel it is unimportant, then I say to you, you don’t need to do Hwa Rang Do.
And that goes to everyone, I say why do Hwa Rang Do if you don’t desire to participate? If you love what you are doing then, then you should desire to do as much you can rather than finding reasons to do the least and if you always choose not to participate then, you don’t love it and surely you shall fail. Failure is not predetermined nor is it destined; it is a choice! It is by our choices that we succeed or fail and not by circumstance nor the will of others.
There should be no dead weight amongst our group. God has granted each one of us with a specific load and also the strength to carry the weight. It is up to each one of us whether we choose to endure or to give up. We must not only be able to carry our own load, but be strong enough to help others with their load. As I have said many times, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore, our goal is to help each other become stronger so that there are no weak links.
Lastly, I leave you with a personal anecdote.
Many years ago, almost 40, I said “no” to my father, my teacher of some task he wanted me to do, and it was the very first time that I have ever said “no” to him. I have told this story countless times throughout the years to many people to illustrate the demanding nature of my father and also to boast of my fidelity of only having said “no” once in my life to my father.
Recently, we took a family vacation to Hawaii with my parents and sister. However, it’s not your normal typical vacation, it is a Hwa Rang Do Lee Family vacation which was to remodel my other sister’s home. Needless to say, it was back breaking hard work as we did everything ourselves, from painting, to plumbing, electrical, to flooring.
I watched my parents who are nearing 80 years old, waking up at the crack of dawn, excited and anxious to get to work every morning to provide a better living space for my sister for almost two weeks, working past sundown in the blistering heat and some days late into the night. Never complaining, never making excuses, never can’t or won’t uttered from their mouths, but with only one driven mission to achieve what they came to do, to show their love and care for their daughter, the only way they knew how, through their actions.
So driven were they that I began to worry, and a flashing thought passed through my mind, that they might die working so feverishly. I imagined my father’s epithet, “The Legendary Founder of Hwa Rang Do died while repairing his daughter’s home.” And, I thought facetiously, what a way to end a life of a Hwarang. Then, in an epiphanic moment, I thought wow, that would be a good way to die, not in battle, but performing a labor of love for his child…
Then, I thought of that moment, when I said “no” to my father and I came to realize that the badge of honor I carried, that “no” which was absolute, that I could in no way have done what he asked was a lie. The truth is that I didn’t really want to do it; it was too troublesome, so I chose not to do it. I could have found a way, it would have been hard but I could have done it, but I chose to say “no” for the very first time. And, it will be my last time.
I thank you Lord for revealing the truth of my sinful pride. I hope and pray you shall forever guide Hwa Rang Do and its people in the way of truth – to live life without regrets and never having to make excuses for our short comings, for our sins.
Hwarang forever and Godspeed!