What does it take to be successful in the Arts? I have in my blogs mentioned many things it takes to be good, but that does not mean I have stated it all as yet. There is another big word that accounts for success, and the word is SACRIFICE. One definition of this word among others is: "Selfless good deeds for others or short term lose in return for a great gain" That's the great gain I speak of not, not financial gain. If it was all about money I would never run a school, as a traditionalist, money is not the motivation, it is the gratification of teaching.
I think many will be surprised at just what a person goes through to be successful at attaining their goals in life. But if your not willing to sacrifice the chances of you making it to the top will be limited. Without sacrifice you might make it half way up the ladder but certainly not to the the top.
But what kind of sacrifice am I referring to is the next question. The answer is just about anything it takes to be successful. If you draw a line in the sand of what you will do and not do to attain success chances are you have already limited yourself. This is exactly what many do, they wish to learn the Arts or make it to a Teacher or even Master but put limits to what they will do or not do. With limits the chances of attaining your goals are limited simply because you limited yourself.
I always knew I wanted to be good in the arts and it was in my early years I made up my mind to attain my dream. I also knew I would do anything I had to do to attain this dream. I never made excuses to myself and I cant recall ever missing a training class. Was this a sacrifice, indeed it was. I missed out hanging out with friends, going to parties, or even vacations. My friends soon forgot asking me to go anywhere with them because they already know my answer, " I cant I have Class today". So they soon stopped asking me. It wasn't to much later I had no friends outside my Kwoon (Kung fu School). But over the many years of training, even when I was in the Air Force i trained with a martial arts. I did make it and archived my Teachers level. But unknown to me the real sacrifices would now begin. With Teaching comes more demands that only true sacrifice can overcome.
As I have said often the are many reasons why people learn the arts, but for me it was a life style, a Way of living and thinking. It was not just a sport to me or a pastime, the Arts is really nether of these, it is a brutal defense that requires total dedication towards self improvement and cultivation of the mind body and spirit. Anyone who studies the teachings of Lao Tzu knows about this Chinese Sage and what I am talking about. My goal was not only to teach defense but also a peaceful and gratifying way to live life.
I started teaching in the parks, I had no school and would not have for many years. I can add Master Chang was the same, he never had a school. He would teach in parks, or places where they offered space for free. It was not long after that I realized this is fine in the summer months but needed something indoors in the winter months, so I rented space in various CYO's or Church basements and even the basements of buildings.
To help the American people come to understand the Asian Arts I would demonstrate the arts for anyone interested in seeing its effectiveness and beauty. It was years later I was spotted doing a demo by a man named Mike who was an officer associated with the Sheriffs Dept. He approached me asking if I would be willing to teach new Police recruits, as he was in charge of Police training for Westchester County Zone Three Police Academy. I agreed to do this and he got me a job with D.C.J.S. (The Dept of Criminal Justice Services) who handle aspects of Police training. The pay was very little, and I had to do all shorts of odds jobs to making a living for myself as what I received from teaching was little or nothing most of the time. The sacrifice to teach was just beginning.
As I said; I taught for years and in most cases making little or no money at all but I was indeed spreading the Arts which was my main desire. I taught because it was in my heart to teach. I would take the few students I had and did demos everywhere to expose the beauty of the arts to the American people. The gratification I got by doing this, was seeing the expression on peoples faces as they saw the Arts in action.
After some time I did manage to get a better place to teach other then the CYO or basements and opened a small school. I continued to demonstrate the Arts for the P.A.L. ( Police Athletic league) along with Flyod Patterson the former heavy weight boxing Champ who showed his boxing skills and me showing my Martial arts skills to further expose the arts. As usual there was no money to be made, these demo's were run free of charge. I also did charity work for Saint Jude's Hospital by running workshops and donating the money to the Saint Jude's Hospital for the research needed to help the children. I did this because I was asked to help raise money for an important cause, this is just was the Martial Arts is about, so I did all I could to help without financial gain. This is sacrifice because there is nothing in this for me except the desire to help.
I never did advertised as I said, because it was not about having hundreds of students it was about teaching people who really loved the arts and wanted desperately to learn. If I could help, that was my rewards. Even when I first had a so called school, I started to charge a minimum amount to maintain the rent. I never charged more then I needed to pay the bills and have enough left over to pay rent on a small cottage where I lived. I was living on cheap meals as I could not afford much else. The little I made in income just got me by and nothing more.
I was totally focused on my teaching career, and soon I was offered a position with the Sheriffs Dept. When my wife to be came to the states we had nothing when we started, in fact we had to go to a auction house to buy used furniture because we had no money to purchase much else. We were married in the States but I had no money to speak of for the wedding. So I asked a judge to marry us and a rented a hall with the hope my students would come and that money would be enough to pay the bills. I had a musical group I was teaching called Rat Race Quire, they knew I was broke and offered to play at my wedding. This is the true arts namely helping each other out when in need. But now I was teaching both in my new job and after my work at my school.
My job consisted of teaching defensive tactics, weapons retension moves, arresting methods and controls etc. I did this for years and after a while the Sheriff Dept. merged with the Country Police I soon became a County Police officer and again assigned to the Academy to teach defensive tactics. I also taught the Dept of Corrections the use of the PR, 24 know as a Tonfa in the Arts. While on the job I also became a FBI Certified Firearms Instructor to further my knowledge and helped in qualifying the new recruits in firearms. I was always eager to keep learning, this is exactly what the Arts calls for, namely Learn All You Can!
Of course I had shift work meaning I had to go in to work either days or afternoons or evening, this was again another great sacrifice I had to face. There was no time at all for my personal life, it was work and teach and teach and work and nothing else. I taught either most of the night and worked days or worked days and taught most all evenings. I had no time for anything but teaching and sleep. Of course running the school meant I was the first one there and the last one out so I had no personal life at all. When I did have free time it was spent in further study of the Arts so as to keep up with the demands to further my knowledge, which is never ending.
When a Teacher decides to open a school there is great sacrifice involved especially if the school is run in a traditional way. I always keep my school small so I did not have to charge large amounts of money and make the Arts accessible to most anyone on any budget. Even doing this I was always in trouble trying to maintain the overhead, heating phones, rent etc. Plus most would not believe me when I say many students failed to pay their dues even with the low costs I was asking. I cant tell you how many times I paid these bills from my own pocket just to keep the school open. In essence I was paying to teach people, who in their right mind would do this that unless you will willing to sacrifice to make it. Not many I dare say, but traditionalist do it for the love of he Arts.
All of the above statements are made for those who are seeking the be among the best in what they do. You have to work and drive yourself hard to be recognized as one of the best. It's all about that magic word Sacrifice. How much are you will to do, how much are you willing to risk to make it?
By risk I mean financial as well as friendships, and even your family life. There is no getting away from the facts what make people great, it is their willing to focus on their goal and not let anything or anyone stand in their way. It is having the right people with you that don't hinder your ambitions. It is your willingness to lose most of the free time and never give up. This is the sacrifice I speak of. It is the your ability to handle the flack you will get along the way from those who wish to deter you by trying to make you feel bad that you are one sighted and are neglecting others. No, it's not easy, and nobody ever said it would be easy. But this is the sacrifice I speak of.
My rewards are the people I have taught, I cant tell you how may have told me how the training has changed their life for the better. Not to mention the stories many have related back to me how the Arts saved them from brutal attacks in the streets. Often these same students told me by learning the discipline the Arts demanded of them they were able to succeed in life and achieving great goals thy set for themselves, such becoming doctors or lawyers etc. They to learned how to sacrifice, work hard and never look back but rather straight ahead into the future, and in doing so they to archived their goals.