New Year's Message from some of our WHRDA Members
Like many people my age, I grew up surrounded by comics and superheroes, extraordinary characters, common people by day and rescuers of the innocent and defenseless by night. My imagination was firing, I wanted to become like them, be strong like them. This is basically the reason why I decided to start training in martial arts, and I can only thank God for having known Hwa Rang Do® right from the start through my current instructors. It was a fundamental meeting which immediately underlined some principles that made me understand better what were the main features of the figures that fascinated me as a child, namely the Strength and Courage that define those "Warrior-heroes” that I read about as a child. During my years of practice in Hwa Rang Do® I have been taught that the Force is nothing if it is an end in itself, and that being brave does not mean to feel unafraid.
Contrariwise, force has meaning only when it’s put towards the service of others, only when we use it to help, protect or defend people who otherwise could not do it alone. A Warrior does not fight because he wants to, to feel powerful or satisfied, a Warrior fights because he has to. I was taught a very interesting story about being Courageous: One day Fear knocked on the door, Courage went to open it, he saw her, even recognized her, but smiled at her with the love of a father who plays cops and thieves with their little son. I have two aspirations for the future. One is personal, the legacy of that dream I had as a child, to continue training, to prepare myself hoping that one day I am able to enter a room and, without saying a word, make everyone understand the type of person (I hope) I have become, loyal and honorable, proud and courageous, a warrior, and a true Hwarang. Only with my presence or my spirit.
The second is to continue teaching. I have the privilege of being a Tae Soo Do® Instructor, teaching both adults and children. I have chosen this word with care, as it fully represents the incredible responsibility and enormous satisfaction that is obtained in being an Instructor and being able to help other people, to help them believe in their dreams, to help and motivate them towards their goals, by facing the difficulties they will find. To become "Warrior-heroes" and leave the world a little better than they found it. After all, this is what “heroes” are, ordinary people, like any of us. They do not wear knitted socks, they do not know how to fly, and they are not invulnerable, but on the contrary they can feel fear, anger, remorse, pain. They can make mistakes, get hurt, feel the whole weight of the world on themselves, and yet continue to fight and get up for what is right. Maybe that's what makes them "heroes”. I strongly believe that each of us can become one, it is my job to motivate people to help others to become Heroes. THAT is what Hwa Rang Do® has taught me, and I couldn't be more grateful for that.
1st Degree Black Sash
Hwa Rang Do® Genoa Academy
Aspirations for the New Year,
I will put my heart in what I believe is most important, strengthening my faith.
The past 2 years have been, to say the least, very dynamic, and rich in blessings for me. I got married to a beautiful woman, Valentina, a true example of loving wife and caring mother. We have had 2 daughters, Chiara, and Cecilia, who fill our lives with joy and happiness (and struggles, of course!). I have lived and worked in Luxembourg, in Kenya, in the south of Italy and again in Luxembourg, before moving back again to my mother country a few months ago. All this, while the entire world was affected by the spread of Covid-19. Most of this, inspired by the teachings and guidance of Grand Master Taejoon Lee.
Every stage of this long, at times exciting but also very difficult journey, has been instrumental to one thing, reconnecting me with my faith in God, which I had not cultivated in long time. A journey which begins years earlier, when I started practicing Hwa Rang Do® in Luxembourg, when I first met Grand Master Lee. It is not my aim to dwell further on past events, as I intend to write about my vision for the next year. However, I also think it is important to identify the connectors, the common threads, what brought me here and now, to understand what I aspire to be and the areas I need to work on to get there.
How are Hwa Rang Do® and Faith connected? In my personal experience, they almost overlap with each other, where Faith is the end and Hwa Rang Do® has been the means to get there (the “way”). The martial discipline, the training, the objective to improve not just to better the self, but rather to be a better student, a better example, a better father, husband, son, brother, friend. It is through this hard work and dedication that I have re-discovered the Love and Faith in God. When I train, when I go to work, I now pray. I pray God to give me strength, wisdom, to guide my thoughts, my words, and my actions.
I am sitting on my couch, my little girls sleeping on my sides, while I write this short article and I realize how blessed I am. There is peace in my heart. But, as much as I enjoy the happiness of being a father - it goes without saying - it also comes with sacrifices, compromises, and self-denial. Fatherhood becomes the new point of the compass to draw the lines of my future life, but it cannot become the excuse to withdrawal and do less. For the year to come there is one source of inspiration that I would like to mention here. Someone who has not done less with fatherhood. On the contrary, he has done more. That is, Kyo Bum Nim Roberto Cesca, who I look up to for the determination he has shown, especially in the last past couple of years, relentlessly serving the growth of Hwa Rang Do® in Luxembourg, always putting his own interests and ambitions in the second place. I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him for many years. I now hope to be able to walk on his footprints and be a driver of change, a source of inspiration as he is for his students in Luxembourg.
EU Liaison and Funding Director for the WHRDA
"How can we take a step forward in realizing who we are called to be?" The first word that comes to mind is FREEDOM. I consider myself lucky because I was born in Italy, where I was able to choose what I believed was right for me. Today at the age of 48 I wonder how much of what I "built" is really the result of my will, and my freedom of choice or how much is the result of what others, social habits, consumerism typical of Western countries, traditions and religion led me to believe was right for me.
I spent the first 36 years of my life trying to meet the expectations of others, good daughter, good student, good friend, good sister, good wife but where was I? Where was the real me? How can a completely lost person be an example, help people and improve this society and this world? They simply cannot. This is my project, my purpose, and my resolution for next year and for all future years, to free myself as much as I can from fears, prejudices, indifference, and labels that the historical and social context in which we live have induce. I will go beyond mere news and information, I will listen and observe, and I will always ask myself questions, if what I am doing and if my behavior is the result of my free mind or of conditioning.
If I work, study and practice projecting my mind towards the image of myself and my life as I would like it, day after day I will find myself, I will find my balance, I will live and understand every emotion without being subjugated. I must be the "mistress” of my mind so I can become an improved and better version of mother, daughter, sister, friend, and practitioner of Hwa Rang Do®. Now I'm in the middle, I'm just a shadow of what I could be, of what I have the right and the duty to be. If each of us were responsible for their own mind, we could not only improve ourselves but improve our micro and macro universe: our family, our friends, our cities, and nations. We are "bombarded" with wrong messages; it is not the new smartphone model, or the new car, the extra-luxury vacation, or the fashionable clothes, or being thin or eternally young, that makes us better, but it is being yourself, realizing yourself, knowing, understanding, study, breathe and love.
The first step forward that should be taken to achieve what we are called to be is knowledge, or rather continuous learning by exploiting every opportunity, observing, and listening, exchanging opinions, constantly asking questions, closely linked to a deep introspection and analysis of oneself. One day I closed my eyes, and I went back in time to when I was a child and I dreamed and imagined my future life and my future self, I realized that I was not like that at all. That day I decided to change, Today I have decided to start making my child's dream come true.
Hwa Rang Do® Genoa Academy
On the threshold of a new year that announces itself once again marked by "fear" (a very powerful virus in circulation, capable of infecting and corrupting the spirit) I take with myself, as every year, the commitment that is the basis of all the rest. Before any project, goal, aspiration for growth, I make a commitment to take care of life, to experience the intensity of living without being distracted by the noise that surrounds us and that always risks making us lose sight of the meaning of what we are. It is an existential posture from which everything else follows. It is a bit like a good basic position to adopt in our Art: balanced, low, in which we feel the energy well distributed. Renewing the commitment to life always means knowing where you are, even when everything around us is complex and confused. It means knowing what matters, even when many certainties crumble. I am an absolute beginner in our art, but in recent years I have experienced, the mind-body unity, that a daily training in our art helps not only to improve my martial skills, but my existential posture.
It is on the basis of this posture that I can plan my growth intended not as an increase in the strength and performance of my Ego or improvement of my social image, but as an enhancement and vital "flowering", as an intensification of the life I keep in me, that is immensely greater than my Ego. This life is nourished by everything that increases its power and does not give up anything: training, readings, meetings, dialogue, feelings, relationships starting with those in my family, the people I love, and with friends. I'm not very fond of uplifting moral purposes. I know that I will be able to look at myself in the mirror every morning if I do anything to protect the serenity of my family, if I am loyal to those I recognize as a friend and if I am honest with myself, starting with my mistakes and defeats. Here's how to honor life in this year that begins. The light in the world, in my eyes, is the sum of many honorable behaviors.
Part of my job consists in teaching and touring the country giving lectures and philosophy lessons. Especially at a time like this I feel the responsibility of encouraging people, especially young people, to cultivate the time of thought, critical reflection, deepening, reading. Training the mind is the only way we have to cultivate an increasingly threatened freedom. For 2022 I have two goals: the publication of a philosophy book about the ocean, which I have been working on for a few years, and the achievement of Tae Soo Do® black belt. In both cases it will be a struggle between Life-power and Ego-force. Impossible as it is to completely erase the Ego while writing, training, and fighting, it would be a lie, especially for those like me who have a bulky Ego. I believe it is necessary to know how to make good use of one's Ego, without becoming its slaves. If I am able to find a balance between my Ego and the vital power that flows in me, I will be able to achieve these two objectives that will help me to become what I do not yet know I can be. A surfboard does not reach the beach only with the strength of the rider, it must enter into consonance with the power of the waves that support it and push it forward.
Hwa Rang Do® Genoa Academy