July 1999

The 8th Tenet

by Chris Walsh, 3rd Gup

As I have progressed through my training, I have become aware that, in addition to the seven stated tenets of Tang Soo Do, there was an eighth tenet implied in everything we do: Obligation. This tenet is seldom expressed directly, but rather manifests in expectations and behaviors of our instructor and our fellow students.

Obligation has three different components. The first is simply the act of binding oneself by a social, legal or moral tie. This definition of obligation is exemplified by my commitment to the monthly filming. By telling my instructor I would be available, I bound myself socially and morally to that commitment. About ten months ago, I was asked to take on an important project at work that meant I would miss the filming that month. When I told my instructor I'd be unavailable... well, I don't remember the specific words, but I do remember ending the conversation feeling ashamed about my willingness to turn my back on an obligation.

Over the last 10 years, especially at work, I had reached the point where I never obligated to anything - I just set priorities. If someone asked me to make an obligation, even if it was just to go to lunch, what they got was a conditional commitment. Essentially, "I'll commit to X as long as something better or more important doesn't come along." I would often blow off meetings with "less important" people with no notice if I had a chance to meet with my boss or a Vice President. That day 10 months ago, my instructor brought me up short by simply reminding me that I had made a commitment to do something. By backing out, I would be failing to meet an obligation, regardless of the reason. So, I went back to my boss and told her that I had a prior commitment. Surprisingly, instead of being upset that I would prioritize a "personal project" over work, she was impressed that I chose to honor an obligation in spite of the potential damage to my career. By refusing to take that project, I demonstrated to her that I knew how to fulfill my obligations. As a result, she trusted me more than other employees and I was always the one chosen to work on sensitive tasks.

The second meaning of obligation is an ongoing duty that compels one to follow or avoid a certain course of action. The Codes and Tenets provide the definition of that course of action -obligation is what makes us follow it. In my mind, one of the simplest examples of obligation is simply to show up for class on time and every day. Which means organizing my personal and work life to minimize the impact on my training schedule. I still miss class ... hen it's necessary, but only when necessary.

It's not convenient to put training first, and it's not easy, especially when meeting that obligation means missing movies, dinner parties, or even just the chance to collapse after a tough day. I've found that level of commitment can only come from a sense of duty - I would falter if my motive was just for the exercise or because my instructor would be disappointed if I didn't show up.

Finally, the third meaning of obligation is being indebted to another for a special service or favor received. What lies behind this sense of obligation is the understanding that the value we receive from our instructor is well beyond what he earns monetarily. No amount of money can repay his commitment of time, emotion, care and guidance to us. Because what a good instructor provides us is a favor, and is beyond repayment, our relationship to him is one of ever-increasing obligation (I might mention that what he does for the younger students should rightfully create a sense of obligation in their parents as well). We honor that obligation in little ways, like being courteous and respectful of him. We honor it in larger ways, by helping other students, the school, the taping of our show, and other special projects he deems important. But, the obligation built up over years is so great that we must further honor it in large ways: living our lives better, bringing the same lessons to our friends and family, and enriching the community. It is a debt we incur for a service done on our behalf and which we can only repay fully with service to others.

And it is recognition and acceptance of this obligation, to our word, to our duty, and to our school, that makes our school, and us, special.

Chris Walsh 3rdGup

The Show Must Go On

"David Bell's Tang Soo Do Show" continues to air on TCI Cable's community access. In Fremont, tune in to Channels 3 or 23 on Monday nights at 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. In Newark, tune in to Channel 6 at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.

On July 15th, we taped our 15th episode!

I would like to thank the students of First Tang Soo Do of Fremont for their continuing dedication to this project.

Mr. Bell

Mind body and Spirit

On September 14, 1999, the third year of our study group will begin. The study group was developed for students from 1 st to 12th grade to offer a more structured, less distracting study environment. The goal is to help students achieve standards of grades equal to the standards to which they are held in their formal Tang Soo Do physical training.

The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 pm throughout the school year.

Thanks to Monica and Marcela Munoz, both E Dans, for their leadership on this very special study program!

Mr. Bell

Competition and Congratulations

This year, both the Region One Black Belt Test and Region One Championships were held the weekend of May 29th at beautiful Lake Tahoe.

As a result of the testing, our school now has four new black belts:

Christine Vinh
James Reid
Steven C. Revel
Steve R. Revel

In the Championships, we had a very solid showing, with eight students placing 17 times and Lawrence Chu earning Adult Male Grand Champion of the competition.

Lawrence Chu First, sparring. First, forms. Second, weapons.
Marcella Munoz Third, forms. Second, weapons.
Michelle Griese Second, sparring. Second, forms. Third, weapons.
Christine Vinh Third, forms. First, weapons.
James Reid Third, forms.
Steven Revel Third, sparring. First, forms.
Glen Evan Third, sparring. Second, forms.
Matthew Griese Third, sparring. First, forms.

And, from the San Francisco Peninsula Tang Soo Do, taught by Mr. Chu:

Gary SegarFirst, sparring. Second, forms.
Dwight WilliamsFirst, sparring. First, forms.

Back issues:

May 1999