“One who conquers others is strong;
One who conquers oneself is mighty.”
Lao-Tzu, from Tao De Ching
Why study Hwa Rang Do®? Time is short for us and for our children. Why make time and sacrifice to study any martial art, let alone Hwa Rang Do®?
Not for you? Actually, Hwa Rang Do® may not be for you. If you’re interested only in toning up and looking good, then join a gym, buy some barbells, and stop eating when you’re full. Although Hwa Rang Do® will put you in top physical condition, that is not its central point. If you’re interested in blood sport, in learning how to bludgeon someone senseless so that you can feel good about yourself, Hwa Rang Do® is also not for you. Although Hwa Rang Do® will teach you how to confront violence, it does not delight in causing pain.
So, then, why? Why study Hwa Rang Do®? It is to CONQUER YOURSELF.
Surrender your fears. We are all filled with fears. We knew them as children. Fear of others, of falling, of hurting, of monsters, of the dark. As adults, our fears don’t disappear; they just transform. But since we can’t admit them, they become hidden and repressed. But the fears, they lurk—not in the dark, but in the darkness. And like invisible cages, fears trap us in bad relationships, bad situations, in inertia and malaise. In this state, we don’t live everyday: instead, we die a little everyday.
Secure your birthright. As human beings, freedom is our birthright. But freedom is threatened by fear. To defeat fear, we need self-confidence. But not the kind promised on television, by charlatans pitching self-esteem in a bottle or a book. True self-confidence does not come from simply telling ourselves that we are great, having fawning parents tell us that we’re special, having sycophants lavish us with compliments. This simply creates deluded individuals, who believe that they deserve everything notwithstanding their essential incompetence. And, even they know deep inside that they are frauds. True self-confidence, leading to freedom, can only be earned through relentless physical & mental training under the guidance of an ethical tradition. By doing what we swore we could never do, we become living proof of the possibility of self-transformation. And through these lessons, earned piecemeal in the currency of tears and sweat, we cut through self-doubt to earn our confidence, our freedom, our birthright.
Lead all others. And if you should become one of the few, the one in thousands who achieves a Black Sash, you will have become a leader. The world is desperate for leadership. By nature, we are weak. We succumb to the coercion of others or the seduction of shiny baubles. When crisis comes, we are desperate for a hero. That hero must bear the weight of thousands. But only after conquering the self can one become that hero, the one to lead all others. The strength immanent from such a person is unmistakable. Others naturally follow.
Become. Why? Why study Hwa Rang Do®? The physical training—as fierce as it is—is only the means. The dojang, our school, —the hallowed ground of timeless tradition—is only the crucible. You study Hwa Rang Do® to become. To become fully human, surrendering your fears, securing your birthright of freedom, and flourishing into one who commands without having to speak a word. That is why you study Hwa Rang Do®. By force of will, you conquer yourself. In so doing, you become a flowering exemplar of humanity.