Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Sense of Vision and The UBBT and 100

UBBT and the 100

My Vision for What We’re Doing –for What You Are Involved In

When I think about our work (and “our work” is our involvement in a brand/style of thinking and action which involves a re-design, a change, in what our long-term objectives are –what our intent is –as martial artists, teachers, and citizens of the world), I think about the collective efforts of everyone involved. I think about 150 push-ups a day adding up to be 52,000+ in a year –and how that idea also applies to the small daily efforts of each person on our teams as well each person we are influencing as a result of our efforts.

I think about how all these small things have the potential to add up to something significant.

When I think about what we are doing, I think about Rosa Parks –which always makes me think of the power that one person can have in the world by taking the right action at the right time; how that person needn’t be famous or powerful or connected or anything but committed to doing what is right.

When I think about the UBBT and the 100, I know they are “programs,” I know they are ”products,” and “services,” but for me, perhaps to my detriment, I see them more as groups of committed activists working on something big –something important and healthy and historic. I may be “the leader” or “the owner” of these programs –but from my perspective I am encouraging each participant to take ownership of the mission...just about the way a good martial arts teacher would like his or her own students to take ownership of the “mission” of his or her own school (which might be called “your life’s work”). The tuition members pay is simply the cost of supporting the work.

I would like it, very much, if my work became a catalyst for you to do your work, better –and that the real lessons I sought to teach were:

1. Self-defense is more about thinking and action, than it is about blocking, weapons, and techniques.

2. A martial arts master teacher is a citizen of the world in the mold of Rosa Parks of Gandhi of Martin Luther King of Thich Nhat Hahn of people transcending the trivial to do for others –and to stand up for what is right and healing and important. Why not?

3. That the martial arts have very little value –if we do not move beyond the physical-ness of it, if we do not take the practice “out of the dojo and into the world.”

4. That the real “business” of the martial arts is the business of living more simply, out of respect for others and for our world’s finite resources, it is about teaching people that real self-defense is the ability to take action to right things that are wrong (Like Jhoon Rhee’s motto “might for right” –and without the need to hurt or kill others in the name of right), it’s about seeing the training go so far down the line that it transcends the sport of it, the exercise of it –that it takes it right to the core of what it means to be a human being in search of connection with something much, much bigger than AT&T, Microsoft, GM, Mercedes, Macy’s, and RJ Reynolds, Co.

I’m sure there are a couple of other things too, but the point is:

You’re not a businessperson teaching “karate” in a strip mall somewhere in America. You’re something much more than that, much more even than a father or mother or son and daughter. I see the UBBT and the 100 as symbols for the way things ought to be –the way things in the martial arts world should strive to be, and that is what happens after the enrollments, after the cleaning and the taxes and all the necessities of our work. These programs are about what we REALLY believe and what we really intend to DO in the world.

I want to be able to point to each and every one of you –and tell the story of the work you do in the world –and how you use your connection to these ideas to do extraordinary work, small work –and big work. Somewhere in one of your schools is a Rosa Parks –and perhaps you will be lucky enough to be a part of his or her education –maybe you will be one of the reasons this person becomes a person of action. Our world needs some more folks like that.

When I think of the UBBT and the 100, I think about the power of working together to experiment and try new things and to share our time together going after the grand. I think how together, all of us, doing our little things –have the potential to do something amazing.

I think about martial arts schools that really, honestly, provide a kind of education that lives up to the concept of mastery that is often attributed to “martial arts masters.” I think of how, in history, we might be viewed as pioneers in an educational movement that made a shift in the world –thru all of these martial arts schools teaching all of these young, willing, excited, people.

There are many groups in the martial arts community dedicated to helping your business. Good! --and my vision for the work we are doing is beyond the business --it's about the soul, about mission, about the kind of action-in-the-world that would have you standing on the same platform as those really brave folks, our heroes, who put themselves on the line for what must be done in the world.

Peace. Conscious consumption. Simplicity. Compassion. Awareness. Family ---these are the self-defense lessons of the martial arts taught by teachers who took what they practiced on the mat and applied it to life. This is what we're trying to "get" --and to put into action in our own lives -and in our schools/communities. This is what we want our students to talk about --when someday they talk about what they learned from us.
Tom Callos

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