In honor of those who gave all they had for the rest of us, we’re keeping it brief today. What better way to honor their sacrifice, than by enjoying our freedom of choice, including how we spend the holiday. Whether bar-b-queing with one’s family, rolling at an open mat, or attending a civic celebration, we hope everyone takes a moment to contemplate the magnitude of what the day means, and give thanks.
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Over the past few years my daughters and I have really enjoyed watching the movie versions of Marvel’s Avengers. We can’t wait for the hubbub at the box office to die down, so that we can go to the latest installment, Black Panther. I think that part of the popularity in this series is the diversity presented in all of the various characters. Each has her/his own superpower, as well as their own personality. As they evolve under the stress of the various adversities they encounter, both individually and collectively, we see them struggle with their own character, both strengths and flaws.
While we are intrigued by their superpowers, I think the most engaging aspects of the storyline involve their struggles with their own, very real, and very human weaknesses. At different times, it’s reigning in their ego, or coping with self-doubt. Sometimes they must resist the temptation of power. There’s always the weight of doing what’s right for the greater good, versus what’s best for them. In the end, they always find their way through the turmoil, and make the hard choices that lead to success.
Which superhero is your favorite? Which traits do you appreciate the most? Obviously, while we can’t have their superpowers, we can rise to the occasion where it truly matters. While we train to develop our physical skills as martial artists, we can also work toward developing in ourselves the character traits we admire in our heroes, both real and imaginary.
As we celebrate the man this week, it’s important to remember his message. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy should stand as a reminder to us all that regardless of race, or for that matter, any other arbitrary external measure, we all are equal in our humanity. Individuals should “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (follow this link to read, or better yet, listen to MLK’s historic address)
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
In the Korean martial art tradition, the uniform symbolized this equality. The idea was that, regardless of ones belt rank, all were students of the art and thus wore the same uniform. While a student of higher rank might be further along “the path,” and therefore have more knowledge in the art, they were reminded to appreciate the lower ranks for having the courage to start, and the tenacity to continue on the path.
While we don’t have a specific color code to our uniforms in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the moral code is the same. As practitioners, we have mutual respect for everybody willing to pursue the path we have chosen.
Training in BJJ is difficult, and anybody who’s put in an extended time on the mat knows this as undeniable fact. It is physically and emotionally demanding, requiring not only extraordinary physical output, but taxing your psyche as well. Learning to cope with winning & losing, fighting from uncomfortable positions, and retaining your composure under duress, all add up to a psychological workout like no other.
It is also a challenge to make the time to train. Most of us have lives off the mat and must work our training schedule into our lives, working around school, our jobs, and our families. To train regularly and consistently, while still maintaining our other obligations as family members and citizens is a task of herculean proportions.
It is important to note that, while we train to develop skills which can destroy, we train in a manner that strengthens both ourselves and our partners. In order for each of us to pursue excellence, we need excellent training partners. If we injured or “beat down” every soul who chose to train, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our goals. This necessity further reinforces the supportive culture we have on the mat.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Anybody is welcome to join our ranks. Regardless one’s color, creed, or station in life, if you have the courage to try, the willingness to commit, and the strength to continue, you are always welcome.
On this anniversary of 9/11, we’d like to take a moment to contemplate the magnitude of such a tragedy, and all of the innocent lives lost. Our thoughts go out to the friends & family of those who perished on that infamous day.
Our gratitude goes out to the 1000’s of men and women who chose to run toward the danger that day, instead of away from it, many of whom lost their lives trying to save others. We have great appreciation for all of the first responders, firefighters, and police who go to work every day, to protect and serve, not knowing whether they will return home to their own.
It’s also a good time to consider the ensuing war we are are still engaged in, and all the lives lost fighting that war. Our gratitude goes out, as well, to all the military members, past and present, who put their own lives second to fighting for their country. We owe you and your families a debt that can never be repaid.
Please take a moment to consider all that people have given to make this country a great place to live. Make the most of the day.
(Note: We will be closed Tuesday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day)
The month of July brings us into our fourth week since opening. It’s been a whirlwind, with classes in full swing, many little build-out projects still being completed, and firming up all the behind-the-scenes, administrative tasks that are needed to keep the place humming like a well-oiled machine. All of this is set against the back-drop of being a family man; making time for family to enjoy the girls’ summer break can’t be forgotten, even in the midst of all the chaos.
You parents know: family life is busy. Maintaining a household, with all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry is a full-time gig. Throw in the daily shuttle service, transporting the kids to and from school/ballet/baseball/gymnastics/piano, and you’ve got a sixteen hour workday. All the while, we’re trying to raise our children the best we can, and hoping we don’t mess them up too much.
Why would ANYBODY ever consider operating a small business while raising a family? Small business owners wear the hats of CEO, Manager, and Employee, and the responsibilities that come with each position. There is no time clock to punch. You carry the job with you everywhere. Even if surrounded by a great team, as the person in charge it’s all on you and the decisions you make. So when you’re not at work, in the back of your mind, you’re still running through the list. “What needs to be done?” What did I forget to do?” “Can we pay rent and make payroll?” “Have I done everything I can?” “What can I do better?”
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the challenge of making a martial art school successful. It’s a ton of work, but seeing all the pieces “fall” into place, creating a positive environment for families and their children, seeing the students have fun while growing into strong healthy adults, (or adults who get stronger and healthier) and being part of a winning team is worth all the effort and risk.
Some people think I’m crazy. Still others get it.
The fact of the matter is, not everybody is meant to be a parent, just as some people are not wired to be in business for themselves. We human beings really are a diverse lot, with varying skills, perspectives, strengths, frailties, and desires. This diversity is our greatest strength, in my opinion, for it is through that broad filter that we, as a species, continue to come up with improved ways of getting the job of living done.
Allowing for this diversity has been one of the reasons for the United States’ continued success. We are a beacon of freedom and prosperity. People continue to come here from around the globe for those two, inextricably intertwined ideals. The Wernecks are shining examples of this dream. They were able to immigrate here and make a good life for their family, passing on Cassio’s expertise in, and passion for, the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is what makes our nation great.
When the Founding Fathers ratified The Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, they understood the value of the individual, and the importance of freedom.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We hope you enjoy the National Holiday. While you’re celebrating The 4th of July this week, please take a moment to contemplate the magnitude of what it’s all about.