One evening, on a side street in downtown Seoul, two enthusiastic martial artists engaged in a casual conversation while waiting for class to begin. One of them was myself--a fish out of water trying out taekyun for the first time. The other was a taekyun veteran who grew up in Seoul.
I was taken aback to learn that his first martial art was karate and not taekwondo. For a martial artist growing up in Korea, that was rare and surprising. I said as much.
Then he told me something I will remember forever.
"All martial artists--we are all brothers and sisters. Taekwondo, karate, taekyun--it doesn't matter. We are all brothers and sisters."
It was true in more ways than one. I was welcomed warmly by these strangers on the opposite side of the world from where I called home. I shared lessons, smiles, sweat and laughs with people with whom I shared neither a language nor a culture. It didn't matter because we spoke martial arts fluently (or fluently enough) and we didn't need to share a culture because we shared a family, as brothers and sisters.
This is a project about uniting martial arts brothers and sisters. We have stories to share and there is much we can learn from each other. And there is a great deal of good we can do together.
In the 50 States Challenge, I aim to travel across America and visit a martial arts school in each state. At each school, I will take a class and learn anything that the school wishes to teach me. Then I will teach a class to share what I know and what I have learned along the way. Instead of being paid for teaching, I volunteer my time as part of a fund raiser for the charity of the host school's choice.
This blog chronicles the lessons and stories of the people I meet throughout the project. It is here to invite martial artists from all styles and walks of life to share in the journey. I hope you find somethng of value along the way.