Saturday, March 22, 2008

Martial Arts and the World - a Letter from Tom Callos

Written to members of the UBBT and the 100:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I offer you a chance to be a more active part of something that is bigger than your school, your business, your commute, your personal habits, your training, your duties, your agenda, and your schedule.

I would like to extend to you an invitation to spend a small amount of your time in joining forces with 100 + teachers around the nation (and the world) to bring some needed ideas and practices to all the students, families, and communities that we represent.

Those "needed ideas" involve a unified and cooperative effort to bring such things as PEACE EDUCATION (in any or all of its forms), ANGER MANAGEMENT, DIABETES EDUCATION, ENVIRONMENTAL SELF-DEFENSE, DIETARY SELF-DEFENSE, and PROJECT BASED LEADERSHIP TRAINING to...Oh, about a 250,000 to a million people +.

Most importantly, however, is the conscious choice and effort --and realization --that you are or could be a part of a movement in the martial arts community to bring radical change to the what, where, why, and how of the martial arts. We can, if we combine forces, accomplish a number of things we might never be able to do alone.

You could, if you look carefully, recognize that I am reaching some kind of limit in what I can accomplish as an individual --and if you know me, you might appreciate that I am, rather consistently, chasing some big and fairly elusive objectives. I need help --and I would like to help you too --by engaging you in a revolution of thinking and action among a group of people who, I think, are perfectly suited to take on something of this nature.

We would do well to find ways to contribute more consistently, to stay on track with national and international objectives, to be more unified in our approach to what it is we are, in our "spare time" working on.

Honestly, I don't want to "run a program" --I want to make change in a way that allows us to look back on what we're doing and know that we REALLY, REALLY took it to "the next level." Why? Because we could...because when everyone else sat around and debated their gross incomes, their after school programs, their taxes, their latest holiday, who won the last UFC, and their what-ever ----we were pursuing an effort to bring social change thru education and action.

I'm proposing that you become a MASTER TEACHER in a new light --under a new definition of what a Master Teacher is -and what that title means. We could commit ourselves to fitness, to health education, to environmental education, and to all sorts of other easy-to-implement ideas...we could commit ourselves to implementing -in a unified and aggressive way -programs that were indicative of our potential. We could all come together in some way -in many different ways - and work on making history in a way that represents our life's work --our love for our chosen profession. We could, in doing this, leave a legacy for the future --for everyone who ever teaches the martial arts.

What I / we need is your participation. We can't make much happen if you allow yourself to become so busy, too busy, to recognize the limited amount of time we have left --and the opportunities which are presenting themselves. Truth be told, we might have a 10 to 20 year max "window of opportunity" to do something amazing. In 10 years I will almost be 60 years old --and every adult male in my family (except one) has died before the age of 65. Some of you are already in your 50's and 60's ---so, really, why wait?

Can you get involved? Can you contribute SOMETHING, some level of energy, of participation, of dialog, of resources? Can you recognize that these projects, the UBBT and The 100 might just represent the most forward thinking, progressive non-physical-based martial arts associations in the world? Can you appreciate how we are jockeying ourselves into a position, politically, to make the martial arts industry something worth being involved in?

Or are you going to "take the ubbt" --and then disappear back into your own circle of activities?

I'm out here hoping to engage you --I'm hoping to do something that allows you to contribute on a level worth contributing on. I'm not saying your work, as it is, isn't good or valuable...but let me tell you, I'm seeing a chance for us to Nobel Peace Prize this thing ---to bring something to the world that touches people --and that speaks of all the "stuff" we'd like to believe about "martial arts masters" --but that currently doesn't really exist.

I don't want to "kick people out of this program" ---but MY GOD you men and women, what is wrong with this picture? Are you content with NAPMA and MAIA and the "business approach?" Do you have something going on that's better than what we're working on? If so, tell me! I WANT TO HELP. I am compelled to help. Or are you going to be like every other Tom, Dick, and Sally out there ---and be too busy to engage?

I really wish I could reach you. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree? Maybe that's why I haven't been able to engage 100 powerful and proactive masters to unite as a team and bring some sanity to this trivial pursuit of ours. Maybe people are just better left to their "own thing" and I ought to quit trying to rally troops who don't really hear the call?

It's my heroes. It's those damned heroes. I look at them and I feel like they're looking at me --and expecting me to recognize the opportunity, the responsibility. They opened some kind of door --and I think I'm supposed to follow suit, I think I'm supposed to give a shit about the world, about one person's ability to make a difference -and some kind of obligation to something noble and right and beyond the scope of that which hypnotizes the masses to do nothing but the minimum to get by --and yet justify their inactivity.

Am I supposed to feel this sense of duty -or am I just an ego-maniac? Am I really out here working because there is a genuine opportunity -or am I just an opportunist? Is Thich Nhat Hahn calling me to action? Did Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and all those other amazing human beings try to compel me and others to DO SOMETHING, or am I just way, way, way out of my league?

Should I just shut up and appreciate the fact that I am just a martial arts teacher --and run my school?

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