Monday, June 09, 2008

Doing What A Coach Must Do Sometimes

Hello and good morning friends,

Would you take a few minutes, please, to read this letter; I could use your help.

I began the UBBT—and then the 100, not to "change the world" as I might occasionally make reference to, but because I believe that the teacher who really walks the talk of self (and community) improvement through the martial arts has a very solid product to sell in his or her school.

Better product = better sales = a kind of martial arts with deep, emotional, concrete results. Those of you who run schools for a living want, I know, want financial success. Well, how to set up shop, answer the phones, sell lessons, do billing, conduct exams, and all of those school-owner essentials are well documented; you might still need help with them, but I saw no need to replicate what has already been done.

I founded these programs to address an authenticity issue, feeling that our industry had become so focused on finances and school business, that we were overlooking a kind of mental, emotional, spiritual, and "social" development that had equal (or greater) value.

I also believed that we (a bunch of school owner/master teachers/black belts) could come together and accomplish a significant body of work, create "a movement" if you will, towards a kind of martial arts teaching that was richer, more meaningful, and that was meant to sit on top of all the business basics the industry had laid down in the prior decade.

I selectively advertised for participants in these, obviously, complex programs –and felt, no I knew, that members who trained as we set out to train, would experience significant benefits from the process.

If members actually...

Studied meditation with a master –and then actually sat for meditation every day for a year –the experience would be life-changing... and for the first time (for many) martial arts teachers might have an authentic meditation program for their students.

If a member documents 1000 acts of kindness and 10,000 (new req.) to 50,000 acts through students and community, that the teacher would "own" the movement in his or her community –and 1000's of people would be touched by this simple concept. In a way, the acts of kindness program was meant to be the ultimate marketing campaign –as giving someone an act of kindness, from my viewpoint, is as good or better than giving someone a guest pass for lessons. Anyone who invested themselves in this concept would be driven by a goal that few, if any, people in their community had ever tackled.

If members took up the idea that mending relationships and fixing wrongs was as important to personal development as doing kicks, grappling, and testing for belts –and if each participant in the UBBT inspired his or her students to follow suit, that people would me moved by the experience –that stories worth telling would be created –and that people's lives would be improved, physically and spiritually, through the process.

With the 100. I sought to give UBBT members a place to hang their hat that had goals and ambitions beyond retail products or licensing programs. An association formed not to address competition, MMA techniques, words-of-the-week, and what-have-you, but an association of rather sophisticated thinkers and doers who recognized the superficial treatment of the martial arts –of the education we had the potential to provide, versus what had become the status quo in "the industry."

I felt that the standards for the industry have dropped to an all time low –and that people joining the 100 could be counted upon to take considerable and unified action to, if nothing else, offer an alternative to the obvious emphasis on physical skills and business practices (in the MA industry).

With the UBBT I needed 13 months of full-on commitment.

I needed black belts who were willing to step up as examples to all other black belts and martial arts students. I needed a "West Coast Demo Team" of teachers who would step up and show the martial arts world what being a master-level black belt was all about ---or at least DIE trying.
I never expected one black belt or participant to drop out.

I made it very clear at the beginning that this wasn't easy –and that the worst thing anyone could do it to drop out. It hurt me, it hurt the individual, it hurt the very "thing" we claim to promote and live by, and it would hurt this program –as it is so dependent on each members full participation.

Likewise, the 100. asks members to look deeply at peace, at environmental issues, and perhaps most deeply at how we can combine our efforts to make something together that made our schools different, more valuable, and more authentic.

On some scale, we have made progress in both programs.

However, this morning I received another e-mail from a black belt participant who asked me to cancel his/her financial obligation to the program, as he/she couldn't go on.

I would guess that this is a member who didn't tell his/her students about the seriousness of his/her commitment. This is a teacher who, undoubtedly, either didn't inform students –or created a justification for telling his/her black belt candidates why he/she is failing to see his/her own black belt test to fruition.

Do as I say students –but don't do as I do.

Is this because we (you and I) don't look in each other's face everyday? Is it because the UBBT website doesn't look pretty? Is it because the program costs about $10 a day? Is it because the listserve only works right about 75% of the time? Is it because I feel strongly about peace, the environment, anger control, diabetes education, and all of that ---and these things, for you, don't "ring" of any value? Is it because it is so very hard to write in your journal, weekly? Is it because I have asked you to show all black belts, all martial arts people, how strong you can be? Is it because this process is difficult to keep up with? Are you bored? Is it because the member roster looks like crud?

I don't know exactly what to say to you all ---except that I honestly expect you to make a commitment in the beginning, and then see it through.

No matter how hard it is, no matter what path your life takes, no matter what obstacles present themselves.

This IS perseverance.

This IS respect for my work and your "school."

This IS your self-discipline being put to the test.

And, frankly, this is an embarrassment to the rank of black belt.

Because of your inability to stick to your commitment, the UBBT is weakening.

How can we stand in the industry as an example of a different approach –and authenticity –a spiritual way to run a martial arts school –and one that isn't driven by purely economic factors, if we can't see a 13 month program through to its fruition?

Yes, "look at the ubbt" and see what these men and women are made of. ???? These are real "black belts." UGH.

I am, of course, not talking about YOU --but about our teammates who are, at the moment, self-absorbed with all the things that keep us from doing our best at something we are committed to (or have committed to, which is the case here).

Don't ask me again to cancel your tuition.

There are no refunds in this program. If you fall by the wayside due to cancer or death or ? –I'll stop your payments. If you simply can't hang in there with the commitment, I'm sorry, you're going to have to throw your hard earned cash into the program to support your promise to participate.

OR, just cancel your purely financial obligation to the program like any other business transaction –as this is purely "business" is it not?

Now a note to all other future UBBT and 100 Members:

My name is Tom Callos.

I am a 37 year student of the martial arts. I have two programs I designed to help school owners and master teachers do what they do, better.

Neither of them are easy; they don't come in a box; you can't open a package and unroll a poster for the wall from it; and both programs require thinking, creativity, a massive amount of participation, and a large degree of commitment.

The only people who are willing to join these programs are people willing to be role models and examples of what is to be a martial artist and master teacher in the world today.

These people will suffer.
They will fail.
They will try new things.
They will struggle.

They will, in many cases, do things that are so different, so extraordinary, and so telling of the true and deep spiritual commitment they have to their life's calling, that you will be stunned and inspired by their work.

Do not ask me to be a part of anything I do, please, if you are not willing to do whatever it takes to see your goals to fruition –and/or to recognize the big picture of my/out work.

Do not join to fail.

Do not weaken our campaign by being weak when things are not going well.

There are many programs in the martial arts world that ask almost nothing of members.
Join one of those --but this isn't one (or two) of them.

When you join the UBBT, you join to do as much as you can, as hard as you can, for 13 months. There is no quitting –and no dropping out. We are, after all, black belts –or aspiring to be black belts in a different light.

When and if you join the 100, join a group of people who are beginning the journey with the end in mind –and the end result of the "ultimate union" for martial arts teachers would be the Nobel Peace Prize. There's a good chance that we will never win any prize, much less the Nobel Peace Prize, but we do know as humans we have the potential to do great things –and so this is how we apply ourselves to the idea of it all.

At the VERY LEAST my friends, give it all you have. You're spending $6 to $10 a day –and that, in today's world, doesn't buy much. Spend your energy CREATING an organization of committed martial arts citizens using their art, their connections, their minds –for a purpose that's big and daunting and wonderful.

Let's bring more peace to the world –let's make the martial arts stand for something other than goofy people in uniforms walking around pretending to be warriors and talking the talk –but not walking the walk.


No comments: