Telling the Truth

On my first ship, USS FORRESTAL (CV-59), I worked in Weapons Department. Being a Seaman Recruit, your duty watch is less than glamorous. For a year I got to climb down vertical ladders and check the security of the Weapons Magazines (places where we keep the ordnance). This is very important because if somebody did gain access they could do some serious damage to the ship if not sink it. You would complete your rounds and then report back to Aviation Ordnance Control Station (AOCS) to report your findings. “All Secure” was the response 99.9% of the time.

One time the AOCS First Class sent a guy down to one of the magazines to put a note on it that just said, “Roving Security – Bring this note back to AOCS.” I wasn’t on watch when this happened but working for the Gun Boss, I heard about it the next day. The sailor came back and reported “All Secure.” When asked if he was sure that he checked all the magazines, the sailor said, “Of course Petty Officer Ratliff.” At that time the AO1 took the sailor to the access trunk and they both climbed down two decks (see the picture) and looked at the note posted on the WTD (water tight door). Needless to say that sailor was in BIG trouble.

USS Forrestal Navy Ship

If this sailor had the COURAGE to tell the truth, he probably wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble. He learned a valuable lesson that day….and so did I. Sometimes life throws you these circumstances to see if you will use your INTEGRITY to tell the truth. This says a lot about your character and HONOR, which is doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is watching.

I sometimes do this while in class. I know that someone is talking and then I ask the question, “Jeremy, were you talking?” and wait for the response. If they say, “Yes, sir,” then I just ask them to be quiet or have them do five pushups. If they say, “No, sir.” Of course I have to ask again and if the response is the same then I make an example out of them by calling them out.

It is a little embarrassing for the student to be caught in a lie in front of their fellow students, but it serves as a warning to have COURAGE and tell the truth, even when you know you might get in trouble. This student is less likely to lie to me in the future, and he has shown other students what not to do. Wise is the man who learns from his mistakes. Wisest is the man who learns from other’s mistakes.

At Virginia TaeKwonDo, we try to teach more than just martial arts. We also want to teach children (and adults) to be truthful people, full of integrity and honor. If you are interested in the classes we offer, please give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.

You Pay One Way or Another

When we were younger, doing grown up things looked so much better than the things we were doing. Grown-ups slept when they wanted, ate what they wanted and bought what they wanted. Who wouldn’t want that, right? Life was rough because we had a bed time (which was too early), we had to eat all of our food (which was gross because it wasn’t candy), and we only could buy what we could afford with our allowance (which came in the form of coins and cash instead of those awesome plastic cards adults had).

What we didn’t know was that parents paid for all those lessons with either skin, blood, time and/or money.

Sometimes doing what we want when we want could cost us more than we bargained. Deciding to go hiking on a trail we’ve never been on before might cost us. We might end up skinning our knee and losing a little blood thinking it might save some time when in fact it actually didn’t.

So what did we learn? Sometimes blazing a new trail may lead to set backs. Does that mean we don’t take risks in the future? No, but it means more time might be spent on calculating the risks before acting. That’s a life lesson.

Parent LeadersEveryone has problems and we need to keep that in mind when it feels like our world comes crashing to a fiery end. We all have some sort of issue going on that we need to power through in order to become a stronger person. Whether it be that one heartbreak we all have gone through or that credit card company we say yes to, these problems are in our lives to make us stronger people. Personal, professional, mental and physical problems teach us just how strong we can be.

Our lives as an adult will consist of countless decisions we have to make and some of them (the majority of them) will have consequences. Choosing to go out with some friends to Happy Hour might leave us suffering a hangover the next morning. Buying an expensive item means that there won’t be any room in the budget at the end of the month. Overextending our credit will only lead to financial burden and lead to more loss of money and time worrying about it. Sometimes we think it was easier to make decisions when our parents just gave us two choices.

We all have that one friend that our parents warned us about or didn’t like and for good reason. We all have been let down or disappointed in someone we thought was a good friend. Unfortunately, it is possible that you will be left behind for something bigger or better. This is just how people are sometimes and these disappointments will always happen no matter how much you try to avoid them.

On the bright side, our adult friendships may be stronger than ever once we have experience picking out good friends and detecting warning signs before we get hurt. This way we won’t feel that we wasted our time with someone who seemed not to care.

When we were younger, our parents seemed like the bad guys. They gave us curfews, they made us get jobs and they got upset every time our grades dropped. Part of growing up is realizing that parents are actually looking out for us and only want what is best for us.

In class the other night I asked how many student’s parents said they hope they have kids that grow up to be just like them. Over half of the class raised their hands. In order to be a good leader, you have to be a good follower, and right now our parents are the leaders. Hopefully, you are one of the lucky ones that is able to establish a solid relationship with your parents and keep it through your adult life.

At Virginia TaeKwonDo, we try to teach more than just martial arts. We also want to teach children (and adults) how to be better people. If you are interested in the classes we offer, please give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.

How to Handle Anger

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but it can be a problem if you find it difficult to keep under control. “You can control your anger, and you have the responsibility to do so,” says clinical psychologist Isabel Clarke, a specialist in anger management.

I have realized that losing your temper is a sign of weakness. When I was a kid, if I lost my temper other kids were afraid. So with me losing my temper came extra power. As I got older (16 or so) I realized that this isn’t cool. It isn’t strength; it is really weakness.

Anger ManagementIt’s important to recognize your anger indicators; are you clinching your fists, raising your voice, breathing heavy, flaring your nostrils, shaking your head? Once you see those things, detach from them and look at it as a weakness.

In our Cubs class we tell the students, “Whenever I get angry I have to take 10 deep breathes and slowly count to 10.” If that is what it takes to detach from the moment to get yourself together, then do it. To get through that moment I like to nod my head in a slow and affirmative motion while I am thinking of how I can solve the problem.

Anger can cause many other problems in your life. My neighbor got into an argument with his fiancée in which she left. It was a way for her to detach; however, he continued his rage on the house. I must also add that alcohol and drugs are not great supporters in controlling anger. As his rage continued, she called the police as he made threats to end his life if she didn’t return.

Police investigated as he was trashing his house and busting out windows. The police left and he continued his assault on the house. He then decided to burn her clothing which set off the smoke detector which alerted her to call 911. Four fire trucks appeared on our street. The arson inspector was there along with the same officers from before.

This neighbor is also a member of our Armed Forces so not only is he in trouble with civil authorities, but he now has a problem with the military chain of command. I had tried to get him to pause and think about the situation twice, but again the drinking played a major factor.

I don’t see how anger can help in achieving what you want to get done. It clouds your mind’s ability to think clearly and come up with compromising solutions. Martial arts will help with the self-control aspect. Once you know how to control your mind, then the body will follow.

At Virginia TaeKwonDo in Chesapeake, we teach more than martial arts. We teach students how to handle themselves in various life situations. If you are interested in signing up for classes, give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.

A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilled Sailor

Let’s look at the quote again: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” What does this even mean? If you are out at sea and the water is calm and flat (it’s a beautiful sight from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier), you can really feel the peace, the vast ocean of life before you. The sun is out and shining, it’s tranquil and harmonious, and there’s no real need for great skill. You can just sail through and bask in all its glory.

There is nothing magical or spectacular about this quote and saying it in your head might not make anything happen or change anything, but in certain times of trials and tribulations it has a power behind it, that if you believe in yourself you will pull through.

Skilled Sailor QuoteFranklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor,” is one of my favorite quotes ever! Not because I spent 20+ years in the United States Navy but because of the profound meaning I have for it. This quote, so simple in nature, is also very deep and profound and I believe it should be kept in everyone’s little book of favorite quotes.

When the seas are calm and you are steaming right along, this can represent when everything in your life is going great. You are getting good grades, you are getting hours at work, you are spending time with family and friends, and life just seems grand. There isn’t much skill needed for when things are going great.

Now, let’s look at the other side of the scenario. You are out at sea and there is a storm coming, the wind is blowing making big waves, the water is splashing over the boat making it hard to see or move around on the boat. The sky is getting darker making it hard to see the obstacles ahead. Now comes the rain! Now it’s even harder to see or sense the right direction. Now you have lost your bearings and are being tossed about between the waves. If you are a new sailor you will be forced to learn the skills on hand that are needed to try to overcome the situation, and if you are a seasoned sailor then the skills and experience from past storms will come to help. We can look at this as a point in our lives where it is not going so well. Something or things are happening in our lives that are testing our skills and making us work harder.

I have a greater appreciation for my Search and Rescue Instructors in making final practicals as hard as humanly possible. There are sides in a pool and even a bottom you can touch. Out to sea, there are neither within your grasp and you better put some of those skills to work or you may not make it back to the ship. Having to conduct a rescue at 2 a.m. in seas in which a 90,000 ton ship is being moved about can be very devastating in a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) if you don’t know what you are doing.

I also love this quote because I believe God places a balance of smooth seas and rough seas in our lives to keep close to Him and to be able to help others in need. When the seas are calm we praise God for the blessing and we share the glory with others. When the storms are rough we are forced to put our faith in God and use the skills acquired over the years to help pull us through.

We grow in times of trouble, we grow in our faith (sometimes we lose it), we grow in experience, we grow in maturity and we grow in the relationship with others. All these things help mold us into the people we were meant to be. I truly believe we get tested and put in situations so that when we meet someone or when God places us in someone’s life who is going through the same or similar situation we will be able to help them.

Bruce Lee once said, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” All in all we must embrace the days the seas are smooth and embrace the days where the seas are rough to become a well rounded sailor.

At Virginia TaeKwonDo, we strive to help our students know how to handle the tough times in life. With adequate training and experience, they can handle any storm that comes their way. If you would like to work on your survival and leadership skills, sign up for classes at our academy. Give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.

No Shortcuts

On base you see people walking on the sidewalk instead of the grass. The reason isn’t because it harms the grass. It’s symbolic. It’s about not taking literal shortcuts. The idea is that if one person takes a shortcut once, they’ll see no problem cutting corners the next time. And if done enough times, there is no need for a sidewalk.

No Shortcuts in Martial Arts

How would you feel if the mechanic took shortcuts on maintaining the plane you will be traveling on? Or an elevator? Or the brakes on your vehicle? Having the integrity and discipline to not cheat even a little takes mental strength. Do you have that?

At Virginia TaeKwonDo Academy we don’t take shortcuts on the path to a black belt. Earning a black belt takes years of training, practice, perseverance and hard work. It doesn’t come by taking shortcuts. Most other worthwhile things in life don’t come by taking shortcuts either. So, put in the work and you will have an even greater sense of accomplishment when you achieve your goal.

If you would like more information about the martial arts classes we teach at Virginia TaeKwonDo Academy, please give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.