That's the question I have been asked very often, "So, you're a black belt?" And when I answer, "Yes", then the second question is, "Have you ever had to, you know, kick somebody's butt?" And to that question, the answer is "No, I have not. I try to avoid bad situations." And to this answer, I am often met with disappointment, as if my fighting someone validates my study of Taekwondo. And that is the point of this week's blog.
In the book, "The Art of War", Sun Tzu writes that "to win 100 battles is not the acme of skill, to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." If we examine what this master General is saying, we see that his belief has real benefits. In the military, a battle means loss of life, and the loss of resources, and the possible loss of territory-anyone can do that. In civilian life, a battle could also mean a loss of life, and the loss of resources. Any hothead can pick a fight anywhere.
But, General Sun Tzu continues, to win without fighting is the real skill, but not many can do that. The benefits are substantial: no loss of life; no use of resources; no loss of territory. And it is the same in civilian life, the benefits outweigh the conflict. But, to walk away takes a strength that not many have. It is being able to turn off the ego in order to be in touch with our inner strength and knowledge. And the outcome in both situations is peace.
I think I can illustrate this idea from my life. I was in the car business for a long time, and consequently I had a "demo" to drive for free (yes it is a great perk!). Since most of my car business career was with Subaru, frequently I would drive something with a turbo and these cars are fast! Zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds fast! Often times I would pull up to a red light, and I would be next to some other sports car, and the driver would glance my way, nod, rev his engine and give me the impression of wanting to race me. Now I would be in a car that only a Ferrari or Lamborghini could beat from a standing start, so I knew I would win. But, I never raced one of those guys.
My son, would ask, "Dad, why?!? We will crush him!" And I would answer, "If we already know we would win, why bother? It's too dangerous, too risky." I knew I had won the race by not racing because I had nothing to prove. It was the man challenging me who had to prove that he was faster than me. It was the many challengers who were insecure about their cars, and what that meant about themselves. I knew I had the faster car, I did not need to prove it, and so I was the stronger person. One time my son responded, "But Dad, he doesn't know that we are faster!" And I said, "Yes he does, that is why he challenged us. And what's more important is that we know we are faster."
In the 1970s television show, "Kung Fu" a Shaolin master is asked this by David Carradine's character, "Master Tae, What is the best way to deal with force?" He answered, "As we prize peace and quiet above victory, there is a simple and preferred method…. Run away." And this is what studying Taekwondo and becoming a Black Belt has taught me. I do not need to show people the things I can do, I know what I can do, I would rather have peace. Learning Taekwondo has given me the inner strength to walk (or run) away.
One of the Tenets of Taekwondo is "Self-Control" it is my goal to always exhibit this. I have learned how to do some amazing things, but if I never have to use my skills, I have won.