“How can you spot a fake? By comparing it with the real thing.” - Pastor Mike
In life we must trust the reality that we perceive, we must take many things at face value. Surely we approach life with some level of skepticism, then we begin accepting and applying because the negativity is too difficult and we refuse to dedicate ourselves to search out truth.
What is Cubic Zirconia? In laymen's terms, cubic zirconia is a synthesized crystal. It is meant to look like diamond. To the naked eye, many jewelers have difficulty distinguishing the difference. That’s the point. They can create a diamond looking material that is less expensive and few enough can tell that they are fake. There is a popularity in cubic zirconia as it is cheap and looks like the real thing. How can you spot the difference between cubic zirconia and diamond? By comparing them. You must start with diamond and compare each to it.
When sudo diamonds can be manufactured, what other realities are fraudulent? When we accept these things and refuse to stand up against fake schemes. As stated earlier, we refuse to dedicate ourselves to search out the truth.
There are some things that we should be more skeptical about. Consider your teachers and leaders. The position is to be respected and held in honor. However, is the individual holding this position respectable and honorable? Are they leading you where you should be lead, doing what is best for you.
Personally, I work in the church and martial arts. I will be speaking from these two perspectives. Let’s reflect on that quote. How can you spot a fake? Which is the real thing? For Taekwondo, that’s easy. There are families of Taekwondo, though each formed to create the headquarters of Kukkiwon. If it is not Kukkiwon, it is not Taekwondo. This is to say there are of course the true families of Taekwondo, these are the Kwons. They remain as the governing bodies and yet recognize and respect Kukkiwon’s position. Wanting to go their own way, some have broken away from Kukkiwon, some are not affiliated at all and have no right to call themselves Taekwondo. How can you spot a fake? They look more like a watered down American Karate, than Taekwondo. There is a cross over in the martial arts, elements in the style that we share, and then there are distinct aspects that set each style apart. Those that are not connected are easily spited because they look nothing like real Taekwondo. Even if they try, they lack adhesion and over time will return to a ridged form. No matter how synthetic, sudo Taekwondo is not real Taekwondo.
This reminds me of something Jesus said, “4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:4-7) We must stay connected to the truth, or be lost in complete darkness. The difficulty is in our own laziness. What is more convenient, what is cheaper, what entertains, what is more comfortable and so on.
Are there fake churches? Are we not all praising the same God? Are we not all Christians? The simple answer is no. Let’s all get on the defensive from the start. Well folks, there we have it. This is where many stopped reading. For those who continue with me for a little while longer, let me explain. “How can you spot a fake? By comparing it to the real thing.” The diamond is the original church, it is the marker by which we must compare every other church. How about the pastors, the evangelism, the governance the teaching and so on. Do these line up with scripture? How can one be a Christian if they do not truly know the Christ they are following? Have only heard and now like the concept of Christ? Do you support some of His teachings and ignore some of the less popular ones? Are there controversies and dogmas in your life and church that conflict with scripture that cause you to make exceptions? Have you made the excuse that this select portion alone is only for this time or old, culture, historic, and so forth without any true understanding? Does your church jump right to the super natural without any concept of Theology and Doctrine? Can you say a simple prayer and count yourself a saint? Do we just praise a God far off or does He come and fellowship with us and participate in His own worship?
The truth is, there are so many questions and we have a procedure for our church service. It is orderly symbolic and depending on the church, very traditional. What good is this service if we are just maintaining and if it is professionally done. We utterly destroy our worship trying to put on a performance every week to make it appealing to the congregation. Our worship should be genuine and joyful, not as if we could control, move or conform Him. As organized as we wish to be, we must be ready to be spontaneous to His Spirit. This is not an excuse to invoke ones own adrenaline or try to provoke God. This is just an openness to His movings.
The church is fake however, in playing service every week. Plan the ritual, the organized emotions through song, lights and words. Who is the service for? If Church service was worship, the focus was missed. If it is for teaching, then many pastors are missing the point. Too many are focused on self through speech, worrying about who they will offend, not feeding meat and misleading their flock altogether. If church is about witnessing, why is it about numbers and how many we can bring in and not how many we can send out? Why are we not organizing groups to go to the streets to share the good news. Do we not believe? If so, we must not really love others, because we must know that they will die, and if they die without knowing; they will go to hell. I hate to state this cold. But there is no beating around the bush. I know for my brothers. I have talked to each of them, at least I talked to them and it pains me. That some may not be in heaven because they refuse to submit their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If you do not love your family, your friends, your neighbors, strangers, you are not fulfilling the law. Jesus said that every law rested on these two, Love God, Love others. It’s that simple. I ask you again. Do you think that there are fake churches? I’m not talking about those that openly oppose. I’m talking about those synthetic ones.
It has been an eventful week. Keeping with Korean tradition, faith, and my own decision, I do not have functions or martial arts classes at my school on Sundays. This became a bit of a public debate and issue which I had to end quickly between myself and some in my jiu-jitsu program. The instructor who I had teaching my program was at odds with me and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There had been an increasing disrespect of those that came for this program. I told him I did not want to have division in my school. I gave him a chance, but he responded with insults. This is what some Jiu-jitsu and certainly MMA has become. The saying is that BJJ, MMA is rough around the edges.
I had the pleasure of meeting a seventy-one year old black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu this weekend who respectfully took my seminar. It was an honor to meet him and learn from him. He has been training in the martial arts for many years and his perspective is rooted in respect and honor. He spoke against the direction of the masses and competition. He said that they have lost their way, that they do not do real Jiu-jitsu anymore. It is not pure. Even worse for MMA. MMA is not a real martial art, it is a combination of martial arts, if that, for the purpose of bludgeoning one’s opponent in the cage. This system does not teach discipline, respect, vital points, or anything matching a respectable martial art. Let’s return to BJJ. This group prides them selves in that their black belt takes much longer to reach, typically the time span that other arts would reach master level. This is understandable. In psychology, we learn that one does not gain mastery over a skill for at least ten years and yet in Taekwondo, for instance, one could earn their black belt in three to four years. In Korea, it only takes one and a half years. This begs the question, what does black belt mean? We will answer that later. For now, Lets continue on the BJJ issue. As I said, BJJ prides them selves in their drawn out black belt. It is as if their blue belt is more representative of a traditional Jiu-jitsu black belt and, purple is second degree, brown third degree, and black, 4th degree. This would be more consistent with the timeline of their training. So where is the pride? They have lost their way from the roots of Japanese and even Brazilian. Honor and respect are thrown by the wayside when pride is forefront.
What is black belt? Black belt in my program is a cumulative knowledge of the basics and preparedness to apply them to practice. For black belt, my students must be physically ready, they must have my curriculum memorized and be able to demonstrate it proficiently. They must be able to apply their understanding of martial arts and training. They must be the best they can be at that time with what they can be, with no excuses. They are required to meet all the demands of my specifications and Kukkiwon before they can be considered a black belt. Before this, they must put time in, they must be dedicated, they must show me their honor and respect. Their character must be that of a black belt. I tell them if they want to be a black belt, they must carry themselves like a black belt. They must help their classmates and the school. There must be dignity in the martial arts and in the black belt.
Martial arts must be balanced. It is a form of war tactics, how to fight, how to defend and how to attack. If you teach this with only an aggressive nature, then you will be unbalanced. If your style is rough, harsh, abusive and arrogant, it is unbalanced and it will not flow. A fighter who has no compassion for his enemy has lost his way.
You must balance the martial art out with peace, with kindness, with humility, compassion, with respect and honor. In contrast to the prideful and tough persona that often accompanies BJJ/MMA, true Taekwondo matches its form with honor, respect, and humility. There is a pride to our style, practice and training, however this must be kept in check. Power must be under control. You may say, this is just a list of of virtues, but these qualities must be considered and adhered in training.
I have been practicing martial arts for over 20 years now, 24 years to be exact. Though my main interest has been Taekwondo, I have also trained in Hapkido, Haidong-gumdo, Maui tai, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Tai chi, and other such stolen words and names. The truth of the matter is, all forms of martial arts share with the other, while still maintaining their unique characteristics. Each one ranges in intensity and focus. Each should be considered and respected for it’s practicality and formation in the martial arts realms. There are of course the deceivers, those who give each style a poor reputation, but we look to the true practitioners, those who lay the foundations of the style. Reject those who break off from the source and claim their own path. You must be rooted in the headquarters and purest form of the style. Consider my previous arguments for this. Referring to Taekwondo, it receives much ridicule as not being a good self defense, as not being practical. This can be for a couple reasons.
The first can be attributed to many false claims to Taekwondo by programs that do not actually practice real Taekwondo. They practice what is referred to as, “Traditional”. Another way of thinking of this is simply, “American Karate”. This style resembles Karate more than it resembles Taekwondo. Japanese terms are used and more Japanese practices are used, and yet, they call it American Taekwondo. This is very watered down martial arts. As there are a few franchises, this is problematic, but then there are plenty of programs who call themselves Taekwondo, but look nothing like true Taekwondo. This puts a bad view in the public’s sight.
The second is the transformation of Taekwondo in competition in the international and Olympic stage. The international and Olympic stage is high competitive, obviously for the competitors, but also for each country. They push to host the next event in their nation, their city, than the interest for one’s sport. This year, Karate will be in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Japan is hosting the Olympics and has the vote to introduce Karate as a competing event. Even though Karate will be debuting this year, it will not be in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The interest in the sport and air time cost money, the competition is high. The World Taekwondo officials continue to find ways to cut down on slow periods in sparring, in order to, as they have said, “Razzle, dazzle”. This has on the surface and in transition made our sport and martial art look a bit weak.
It is the honor, however, the respect, that is seldom found in any other form that I appreciate in Taekwondo. Taekwondo is clean, pure, and true to its nature. The sport is meant to be safe, fair, and fun, which means I can keep doing it for a long time. There is an established discipline that sets it apart. The instructors do not need to be harsh, or aggressive. The students and instructors interact in humility and kindness. Surely there are prideful individuals. I am merely speaking of the teaching. I know personally that if I were to flex my abilities and ego, I wouldn’t have many students.
And yet, it baffles me, I have been in several other programs where the instructor is aggressive, capable or not, with a bad attitude and they may have more students. They demean their students in these other programs, there is a lack of discipline, or it can be over militaristic. The students and instructors show no humility or honor and the over all tone is aggressive.
I can’t help but ask, what is being taught? What are the instructors and students gaining? If you get beat up constantly, will you get stronger? Will your body heal, will your mind heal?
At some point in our training, we must realize that there is no mystery to the art. We must understand that there are consequences to our actions. We must know that everything must work together, move together. This is the basics of martial arts. For those that mistreat their student, they do not understand this. You must be authoritative with your students. But you must first be in proper health, both mentally and physically. The same goes for how each art treats the other. My concern is not for the phonies. But for the true forms, we need to start respecting each other and helping each other understand. As I mentioned at the beginning, each should be considered and respected for it’s practicality and formation in the martial arts realms.
To follow up on the Integrity In The Martial Arts post, I want to discuss deeper the trend of instructors who are diluted either by a simplistic mind, or a combination of the misleadings of an instructor before. These instructors will self promote, identify with the best, but look nothing like the best and will avoid competitions with the best because they cannot compare to the best. As the adage goes, “How can you spot a fake? Hold it next to the real thing.” They stay clear from the real thing. Yet they will tell you over and over again that they are legitimate, that somehow they are better. They will claim certification, yet have no proof. If supplying proof, it is fake. Then to perpetuate these lies to their students who trust them and only know as much as they are taught. Did you know you can look up your instructor’s record? You can see if your instructor is really the rank they claim? You can also look up the rank they claim you are paying such a hefty price for…
For over twenty years now, I have come to the understanding and have taught my students to know more than you are taught. Yes, I want them to trust me and follow my instructions. However, I want them to take responsibility for what they apply to their lives, to their knowledge and to their path. I do not want them to be dependent on me for everything, I want them to be leaders and, trusting that they can make decisions and come to me for advice and support. As their instructor, it is not my job to control them, to micromanage them and run their training where they wait for every word and move. No, I lead in step, as a guide, sometimes walking beside them, sometimes hand over hand, sometimes in demonstration, mirroring. But you have to let them try on their own, give them direction and let them try again. Always in humility. Likewise, if you cannot be humble about your rank, then what are you to your students?
Perhaps though, you are not lying, you are testing, and you are going to high level competitions, performing well and your students rank high in their divisions. But, for some reason or another, when you search your black belt, it doesn’t come up? How strange is this? The certificate you were given and that you give your students somehow are forgeries? How upsetting this could be, and all you can offer your students is, well, at least we know our worth. Do you start over and find a program to help you out, or do you continue the facade? Do you face the music, or continue the lie? Pride or humility? This is what it comes down to. The strong will and personalities of the martial arts often side with continuing the lie rather than facing the truth and rather difficult road of working hard and catching their rank up. There has to be a quick and easy way, right? While so many are searching for this easy way to catch up, beginners are getting their first, second and third degree black belts, even fourth degree black belts legitimately. And those who were lied to, are left with no accreditation at all. Martial arts is hard work, sometimes this work repeats itself. Life isn’t fair, sometimes you lose and we, as instructors need to demonstrate to our students how to conduct ourselves when life isn’t fair and when we lose. For those lied to, get up, work hard and earn it again! For those lying, stop, teach your students integrity, teach your students that it’s worth giving it your all, that a job worth doing, is worth do well! Don’t be lazy! Don’t be selfish! Give your students everything, even if they choose not to go for it, at least you gave them the chance! Open the doors of success for your students!