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.

Rules of Engagement

Parents, did you know that 165,000 kids miss school every day because of the fear of bullies? Did you also know that bullying causes depression and low self-esteem? Martial Arts training helps to protect your child from bullies.

Schools have a “zero-tolerance” for fighting. Who does this favor? The bully or the victim? While this policy does reduce the amount of physical fights that the school may encounter, what about the verbal bullying? Verbal harassment is more damaging and lasting than physical harassment. In our Jiu-Jitsu class we teach the three T-Steps:

Talk: Talk with the bully and ask them to stop. Asking uses our Tenet of Courtesy and is more likely to work than demanding the bully stop. Use a three part sentence (1) what the bully is saying (2) how it makes you feel (3) what is the desired outcome. Like this: “When you call me stupid it makes me feel bad and I wish that you would stop.” It is possible that the person who was verbally harassing was not aware of it and by using our Talk we can defuse the situation. If the bully ignores this request, we must continue to ask them for three days. It seems like a lot, but a solution is coming.

Tell: Make your parents and teacher aware of the situation after three days. Why wait the three days you might ask? It is possible, through another of our tenets of Perseverance, that the bully may stop and there was no need to trouble anyone about it. Should you have to tell the teacher, he or she will appreciate that you tried to handle it yourself. “Mrs. Hunt, I asked Bobby three days in a row to stop calling me names.” You might want to tell your parents right away to keep them informed. Some people might say you are a tattle-tail. Are you a tattle-tail if you call the fire department if you see a house burning or the police if you see someone breaking into your home? Telling is the only way to inform the right people of the situation.

Tackle: While your first thought is the physical act, it is not the first part of the T-Steps. Tackling mentally may solve the situation. Remember a bully feeds on fear of the victim. Once you tell them you are not afraid, they may leave you alone. Ask the bully, “Are you challenging me to a fight, because I am not afraid of you.” If the bully says no then a simple response like, “Then stop calling me stupid and wasting my time.” If the bully decides to get physical, then we can use our Jiu-Jitsu skills.

Jiu Jitsu ChesapeakeRegardless of how the fight starts, it is likely both parties will end up in the principal’s office. By following the three T-Steps it will be easier to explain what happened when the bully went from verbal to physical attacks. Explain how you tried to resolve the situation by “asking” the bully to stop. Explain how you informed the teacher of the situation. It is very possible that the teacher did talk with the bully. It might have reduced the amount or just made sure it wasn’t done in the classroom where the teacher can observe. Explain that you asked the bully if their intentions where to fight and that you had no intentions of injuring the bully but using your Jiu-Jitsu to protect yourself. If you followed the rules, you should not have any fear from your parents. You may be suspended from school due to the “zero-tolerance” rule on fighting, but let’s examine the end result. Do you think the bully will be more likely to verbally harass you in the future? Do you think that word got out and is around the school that you are not going to stand for this kind of behavior?

I had a junior TaeKwonDo Black Belt who was physically harassed in school. His dad was a Marine Corps Colonel. This Black Belt student was more afraid of what his dad would do to him for fighting in school than what the bully could do to him. He endured a lot of harassment and one day was pushed down and hit his head on the ground. His injury was a concussion and a night in the hospital. He never told his dad what was going on at school. His dad said he would have supported him using his TaeKwonDo if he had known.

Of course the school does not want a physical fight; however, if the parent says one thing and the school says another….who do you listen to? You listen to the parent. You go to school to get an education and not to be physically or mentally harassed. Most kids do not stand up for themselves because they lack the self-confidence to protect themselves. Our students are not aggressive but more assertive through their training. They do not just defend themselves but stand up for those who are being harassed physically and mentally. If your child is not training in a Martial Art, get them into one. It is just as much a part of their education as the school you send them to during the day. Physical scars will heal but the emotional ones will last a lifetime.

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.

Our Society Desperately Needs Martial Arts

I am convinced that society needs the benefits of martial arts training now more than ever. Just turn on the news for 10 minutes and, if a you can last that long, you will see what I mean. Adults are stressed to the max, children are obese, and violent crimes seem to be getting more and more violent by the day. That’s the tip of the iceberg of what I stumbled across last night as I quickly flipped through the channels.

Even worse are the awful school shootings that are making headlines. All of these incidents are so tragic and heart breaking. Could they have been prevented? Maybe. I know that students who train in martial arts have more training in self-protection than 90 percent of the people who are actually in charge.

Martial Arts Training ChesapeakeI asked students the other day what they do during a school shooting drill. This is what they told me: “They cover the window and lock the door then we all just sit in a corner and keep quiet.” This is the plan? Why not fight for your life? A Navy SEAL told me once that as trained as he was in combat that 3-5 guys rushing him at once would defeat his training. He would get one or two, but the other three would overtake him. How about 20 kids in a classroom versus one shooter? There are no guarantees that no one will be hurt, but fighting is better than just huddling in a corner waiting to be shot, in my opinion.

Think of the people on United Airlines Flight 93. Once they found out what was happening on other planes, they decided to fight back. What is the school doing to protect your most precious gift, your child? This is the fifth year we have offered FREE tuition classes for all public and private school teachers.

I’ll never know it and neither will those that I save, but I believe that what I teach has such an incredible effect on others and their future. It is no coincidence that martial arts training has reached a historical point at the same time society, and especially our children, need it so desperately. As someone once said, “The future is for those who prepare for it today.” We want our children to be prepared. We, as parents, struggle and sacrifice for it.

This education and development in martial arts will last a lifetime. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the greatest weapon, which we can use to change the world.” If your child is taking martial arts, then you are an awesome parent who cares very much for the safety and development of your child. If you know a friend who has a child not involved in martial arts, share with them the success stories of your child and suggest they start their training. Sometimes the smallest gift has the biggest impact.

If you would like to learn more about martial arts or sign up for classes, please give Virginia TaeKwonDo Academy a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us. Teachers, you can sign up for free classes, so please take advantage of this opportunity to better defend yourself and your students.

What It Takes to be a Warrior

Across the ages every great society has celebrated and revered a great warrior tradition and passed on the stories of these heroes in folklore. We can look back to the Spartans, Roman Legion, Vikings, Knights, Samurai or Aztecs, and each time we will find that a strong warrior class coincided with a strong nation.

The warrior’s spirit is alive and well here in the greatest nation in history. Although it lives in the hearts and minds of the greatest fighting force in the world, our society is beginning to shun warriors and move them down the social ladder. At the turn of the 20th century, warfare began to move away from the martial art of combat and move toward a more mechanical, detached system of destruction. This has changed society’s view of what it means to be a warrior and paved the way toward a society that now teaches our boys to be less masculine and more feminine.

Traits of a Warrior

Another reason for the cultural shift in thinking is that people have seen an increase in the warriors’ dark side. Of course when most of us hear about the dark side, we think of Darth Vader in Star Wars, and this is a good thing. If you understand how the force works in those iconic movies, you’ll understand how it works in today’s most elite warriors.

Warriors have a certain set of traits that can be used for good or evil, and it’s up to each one to choose what path he will follow. It’s also up to our society to allow boys to be boys and men to be men and express themselves in manly ways. Sometimes this involves fighting, which if used for the right reason, is a good thing – protecting our freedom.

Too many people think that in times of war we can turn on a magical switch to activate our warriors and protect our way of life, and when the war is over we turn off the switch and our warriors go back to normal, every day life. I’m guessing that most of you reading this would disagree and understand that being a warrior is a full-time job, a way of life and something that needs to be trained and tested so we can be ready for our enemies’ surprise attacks.

Going to war is not a prerequisite for the title of warrior. “Warrior” is simply a recognized role that has played a vital part in every great society from time immemorial, and we must continue to embrace and support them if we are to continue to be the “greatest nation on God’s green earth.” Although the road is difficult to travel and the rewards are few, there is always a need for true warriors.

Traits of a Warrior

I know this is one of the biggest indicators of success in any combat environment. I can see if someone is confident before we even start training. It’s why I can spot another warrior out in public, even if we’ve never met. A warrior is sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one’s own abilities or success. Start with the end in mind – you will win. It’s not a question.

Displaying no hesitation in battle is vital to survival.

To be a good leader you need to be confident and direct in claiming your rights or putting forward your views.

You don’t need to bench 500 pounds to join the club, but you do need to make the most of the muscles you have. Even the most skillful swordsman needs to have the strength to pick up the sword. This applies to mental muscle as well. You need to have a determined will in all that you do. A strong mind can make up for a weak body, but not the other way around.

Having the right mindset is vital, but you need a skill set to match that big brain of yours. The skills themselves can vary, but the more mad-ninja skills you have the more balanced you’ll become.
“Know your sword“ ~ Musashi

You need to be moving, doing or functioning at all time. Ideas and theories are great, but action is what gets things done. Once you’ve got a plan, execute.

When most people think about being aggressive, they think about a Pit Bull with a bad owner. That aspect can and should be used in combat, but I’m talking about being forceful, bold and energetic.

You’ve got a plan, you’re confident you can do it, now you need to have the discipline to stick to your plan. Getting up every morning at 0400 so you can hit the gym before work sucks! Being fat and out of shape sucks worse! Not hitting the snooze takes discipline. Warriors are disciplined.

Warriors have a “friend” we call Max Flex. It means we need to be able to adjust quickly to different conditions. Being adaptable is what allows species to survive evolution. The way warriors survive in combat is by adapting to the ever-changing battlefield.

You never know when the balloon will go up so you have to be ready 24/7. You need to see everything that’s happening around you and be prepared to react appropriately. Warriors are always prepared and ready.

Having patience means bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. It means manning-up. I’ll always remember the whiners in my Search and Rescue course complaining about how cold or tired they were. Guess what? We were ALL cold and tired, and complaining didn’t make them any warmer (although quitting did).

A warrior needs to be mentally quick and resourceful. When things fall apart, it always happens fast and you need the metal prowess to quickly invent a new way to do what you were just trying to do. Things rarely go exactly as planned, and you need to be smart enough to adapt.

One of the biggest lessons I taught my daughter is what it means to be brave. Like most people (and even some dictionaries) they thought being brave meant that you weren’t afraid. This is actually the opposite of what it means. Being brave means that YOU ARE AFRAID, but you do the offending task in spite of your fears. I’m not afraid to ride roller coasters, so me riding one does not make me brave. When my daughter rode the Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg for the first time she was afraid, but she was brave enough to go anyway. Afraid means you can still operate…scared means you are frozen (scared stiff).

An arrow without a tip is just a stick. A warrior needs direction, and that comes from being faithful to a cause, ideal or institution. This could be your family, your country or a religion. Having loyalty will keep you guided along your path; just make sure you keep it in balance with the other traits. Warriors are loyal to their country and loyal to their families.

A warrior has confronted death and understands the value of life. Warriors whose lives are in balance are peaceful, unselfish and have a compassionate concern for the good of others. The love of his family is what gives the warrior his internal energy to constantly train for battle and strength to survive once he’s there.

I know this is a long list and the kicker is that it’s far from complete. My original goal was to come up with a nice sounding number to write about like, “Seven Traits of a Warrior,” but as I started to compile the list it grew far beyond seven and I simply stopped at a point that I thought would give you a good overview of the complexities inside these amazing warriors. You’ll become a true Renaissance-Man in your quest for warrior status, but just remember to stay away from the dark side.

Avoiding the Dark Side

Like yin and yang, hot and cold, or dark and light, all the above traits have two sides that can manifest. If your life is unbalanced, the dark side will be the stronger force and your actions will demonstrate this fact. There are several ways a warrior can become unbalanced and it’s important to quickly recognize this and take corrective actions.

Simply not being well rounded is the quickest way to become unbalanced. We see this in extremists’ who concentrate so much on loyalty to their religion that they completely neglect things like patience and love.

Suppression of a warrior’s God-given drive will also slowly lead to an imbalance and manifest itself in negative ways. Telling boys it’s wrong to fight is like telling a bird it’s wrong to fly. Holding back someone from what they are supposed to do will lead to unwanted consequences down the road. Sometimes warriors are traumatized, which can effectively short-circuit their systems. It doesn’t make them evil; they are the same person displaying the dark side of their traits. We see this with warriors coming home with PTSD and need to recognize the problem and put them back on the right path.

Finally, being improperly or inadequately trained can lead to imbalances. As you train yourself to become a warrior, be on the lookout for these imbalances and correct them as soon as possible. Like a magnet – all warriors have two sides and you cannot separate them. No matter how thin you slice a magnet it will always have a north and south pole. In the same way, no matter how much of the dark side you try to remove, you’ll always be left with both sides.

With our martial arts training, we work to develop the traits it takes to be a warrior, and we will do our best to teach you how to live a balanced life that will keep you on the good side and not the dark side.

Are you ready to be a warrior? We provide training to help you with the many traits a warrior needs. If you are interested in martial arts training in Chesapeake, please Contact Us or give us a call at 757-558-9869.