Me at 1st Degree Black Belt Test!
I am going to assume that you are looking for a martial arts instructor. Should you be? Well, only you really know the answer to that question but I would highly recommend it and perhaps after this article you will be more inclined to invest in one. Having an instructor like I had growing up can change your life and for me it changed not only my life but thousands of others. I’m only 25 so that number is going to grow. That is unless I get mugged in a dark alley sometime soon – again not likely to happen seeing that I DID have a martial arts instructor.
My instructor, Master David Clements, is a 5th degree black belt in American Freestyle Karate and is ranked in a million other styles (always good to exaggerate a little when talking about someone who changed your whole life). He was truly a godsend to me in so many ways; in many ways he probably doesn’t realize. This article is meant to help him realize that and also hopefully help you realize a little bit what you should look for in the people you allow to influence you or your kids.
Master Clements, as we called him, made a business decision to open a beautiful 6000 square foot studio in a town of 2000 people. It was a very optimistic decision. To give you perspective, I now own a martial arts school that is 2500 square feet in a town of 2.5 million and growing. But I truly believe he was there to give me a future, and that God had a divine appointment for me when I walked in his door and my mom made me enroll even though I was scared out of my mind and literally cried my first class (give me some grace though – I was only 10).
My instructor taught me many things and I would like to share three of them with you right now.
- Do the right thing….always!
- Family is important
Do the right thing.
This one sounds so simple but the truth is, it isn’t. It just isn’t. Our brain gets in our way and wants to rationalize this, and give you leeway in that. Look – it’s simple – there is a right, and there is a wrong. Stop ‘thinking about it’ and make the call that would be in line with character. Now, I’m not so blind to realize there aren’t some decisions that are more complicated than that, but most of the time we make it more complicated than it is worth.
Master Clements taught me this over and over again! It was drilled into who I was as his student.
One time he had a student who enrolled and then came back in that very day and asked for their money back. They knew there was a no refund policy but the right thing was to just go ahead and give them their money back. He did it even though he had the ‘legal’ backing to not go through with it.
He was always firm on doing the right thing by each person and for him that meant asking ‘what would be best for the other person?’ and not only himself.
Family is important
I had the opportunity to attend the funeral for my instructor’s mom. She was an amazing woman and the caretaker of the karate school I grew up in. She was the one responsible for calling me the day I played hookie from karate and scolded me gently and asked me when my next class was. I didn’t skip class again.
My instructor, Master Clements, had a thing about spending time with and committing to family. It isn’t something you see a lot of these days (how many of us even have family meals together anymore, I mean really?)
One of my friends has a tattoo that says ‘love is spelled t-i-m-e’. Master Clements knew this and was always there to make his family the most important. He didn’t mind driving either. If there was an event or a family member (and a lot of times his students became like adopted family to him) that was in need he was there. This taught me a lot about the importance of relationships in your life.
I’ve learned that relationships really matter – more than adventure, more than money. Think about it – the last time you had an epic adventure by yourself – the story afterwards was just never as cool or exciting as you would have hoped. And let’s be really real – making money is amazing but no one in their heart wants to be the richest man in the world and completely alone. Relationships are important. Um, really important. Invest in them.
Another mentor always told me – ‘Sam, anything you want is just a relationship away.’ I’ve found that to be pretty true in my life.
Mr. Clements taught me this and modeled it so well with his family. He was always there for his mom and even committed to support her later in life. He paid a monthly sum to support her until she passed on. In a day and age where most people are trying to ‘get rid’ of their parents this spoke a new language and gave me a new foundation on how to look at family.
Ok, for those of you who know me, this is definitely not the one I model the best. There are so many people who can relax better than I can. If I’m not sleeping (for the 5 hours average I seem to get each night) than I am busy – busy with something or someone. I like this but there is just that time when you need to tell your somewhat overbusy and perhaps slightly annoying self to slow down and relax.
Master Clements modeled this. He would kick back – throw his shoes up on the desk and actually have a real conversation with you. You know, one of those conversations that last longer than 2 minutes and ends with ‘I’ve got to go but good to talk with you’. (wow, I think I’m convicting myself here) For a 10 year old boy trying to find his way in the world and trying to be different this was the most important thing anyone could have done for me.
Studies show that children who simply have someone in their life they can talk to, who actually, truly cares, are much more likely to stay out of trouble and create a meaningful life. Translation – you can help create meaning in the world simply by caring and talking to someone. Yes – YOU. Even if you don’t know or have all the answers, or even if it’s been a very long time since you have been a teenager.
Share and care. Perhaps that is the message of this post. The real message is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ and ‘happy birthday’ to one of the people who inspired me to UpLevel my life in so many ways.
I am forever grateful.
Thank you sir.
4th Degree Black Belt