TGJ: Courtesy on the Bridge by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

The air grew crisp as Tiger and Blake set out across a great forest at the top of the cliff on
which Tiger had discovered his courage. As they hiked silently up the sloping terrain of the
woods, Tiger enjoyed a sense of wonder about the towering trees, the colorful plants beneath them, and the birds and mammals he knew were watching as they walked gently and with great respect through the animals’ home.

Tiger carried the map that he had found with him. It was safely tucked away in his pack
in the pouch he had found it in. Just before starting this leg of their journey, he had referred to it and was using it as a guide. His destination was Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds.

They trekked for miles through the forest until the trees gave way to a rocky and steep
plateau. As they passed the last of the trees, Tiger turned and bowed to the majestic forest they’d moved safely through. Blake giggled to see Tiger bowing to trees. He knew that this journey was not just important to Tiger, but it had totally consumed him. To Tiger becoming a Black Belt Shoka Leader was the most important thing he could possibly do with his life. It gave him a sense of order and purpose, and it made him feel connected to something bigger than himself. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to the top of Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds. This was not an ordinary hike; it was a spiritual quest. Tiger was finding himself—who he was meant to be. He had seen so many people suffer because of problems in the world, and he wanted to play a role in finding a solution to at least some of those problems. But he knew that no one would pay attention to him as he was, so he would have to become someone greater. This journey would enable him to do that. It would transform him into the leader he was called to be.

Blake looked at the forest and saw the beauty and vastness that Tiger saw. He became
aware that all people rely on the wonders of nature, which must be respected. Tiger bowed again to the forest, took one last look at the explosion of life beneath the trees, and then turned and motioned to Blake to move on.

They walked for hours across the rocks, stopping now and again to rest or to scoop cool,
clear water from natural basins in the stone. Tiger became aware that he was able to walk farther and farther without resting, and that the muscles of his legs were becoming stronger. He liked the way his body felt as he and Blake climbed toward a high point. He wondered what awaited them on the other side.

When they crested the stony point, Tiger couldn’t believe his eyes. The land fell off
sharply into a great, deep canyon. “How will we ever cross it?” he asked. Blake raised a hand to point off to their right. “We’ll cross there,” he said. Tiger squinted and searched, and at last noticed what appeared to be a fine line across the top of the canyon. As they walked closer to it, Tiger could see that it was a narrow, rope walking bridge suspended high above the canyon floor. Noticing how it swayed in the breeze made Tiger feel uneasy.

When the two of them reached the beginning of the footbridge, Tiger realized that
because the bridge was so narrow, they would have no choice but to cross it single-file. The
flimsy bridge looked to be a mile long and a thousand feet above the canyon. The thought of
crossing it made him tremble. He was reminded again of something simple that Sensei had told him: “stay focused.” In this situation, he knew the goal was to get to the other side. This was simple to understand but very, very difficult to do.

Without looking down, Tiger gazed across the bridge and then placed his right foot
lightly on the first ancient plank. As he did, it dropped just enough to frighten him. He glanced back at Blake who was close behind. Blake had seen what had happened and nodded at Tiger to let him know that he was with him.

The bridge, which was made entirely of rope except for the wooden planks, swung a bit
to the left and then to the right, causing Tiger to grip the rope rails for dear life. He got a queasy feeling in his stomach and knew that he couldn’t look down. He focused his attention on the task before him and quieted his fears.

“Look straight ahead,” Tiger said to Blake. “Feel the strength of the bridge. It will move,
but it will not break. Stay focused on taking one step at a time.” Tiger didn’t know how he knew this, but he just knew it to be true.

He took a deep breath and felt his tense muscles relax a bit. Rather than tense up with
every motion of the bridge, he began to move in harmony with it. His fear gave way to an intense appreciation of the fine old bridge and the fantastic canyon below.

But what was this? Gazing far ahead, he saw that at the other end a large group of people
were moving single-file onto the bridge. Had the people not noticed him and Blake? The bridge was so narrow that it would be impossible for the two parties to pass. He and Blake had come so far, and they had started across long before the other group. Tiger decided to keep going and hoped the strangers would back off when they realized they had entered a bridge that was already in use and that they should have waited for him and Blake to make it all the way across.

The large group stopped. Tiger thought this was strange, but they were still too far away
for him to make out what they were doing. It appeared that most just stood and waited, while two or three people in the back knelt on the bridge. In time, the entire group began moving again, slowly, toward Tiger and Blake.

At last, the two parties moved close enough together for Tiger to see that a tall, powerful looking man was in front of what appeared to be several families whose members, old and young, carried trunks and cases and baskets. They seemed to be crossing the bridge while
weighed down with everything they owned in the world.

When Tiger and Blake drew close, he thought again about how far they had come and
how they could make it across the bridge in only a few minutes—if there was not this long line of people in front of them.

Tiger noticed that the man who appeared to be the leader wore a scowl on his face. He
ordered his people to stop. Then he shouted to Tiger and Blake, “Halt!” They stopped about
thirty feet from him. The man signaled to three young men, who carried swords and looked to be warriors, and the four of them stepped forward on the heavily burdened, swaying bridge.

Tiger was worried. These strangers looked mean, and there was no room on this bridge
for a fight. The leader had a red face and appeared angry as his men stepped up and stopped only a few feet away. Tiger greeted them with a deep, respectful bow. Why he did that he didn’t know, but it seemed like the right thing to do. At the same time, he watched them closely.

The strangers appeared to be surprised by Tiger’s bow, and the leader bowed slightly in
return; his warriors did the same. Then the leader stiffened his back and barked, “Go back, or prepare to fight. My people need to cross this bridge, and you are in our way.”

Tiger spoke to him calmly. “But we entered the bridge long before you did and only have
a short distance to go.”

“Silence!” the leader shouted as his warriors squeezed the grips of their swords. “We
have no time for this! We were forced to leave our village, and now we are escaping a fearsome enemy. We could not wait for you to pass over the bridge and are placing ourselves in peril while stopping to talk to you. Back off the bridge, or prepare to die!”

Tiger thought the pounding of his heart would split open his chest, but he bowed again,
this time lowering his eyes to the strangers’ feet. Then he spoke. “We are in no hurry to cross this bridge, but there is a great urgency in your crossing. So we will turn back and, if you so permit, to allow you to move more quickly, we will help your people carry their belongings.”

With those words, the looks on the strangers’ faces softened. The leader shook his head in
amazement. “You are kind; thank you. Please forgive my behavior, but we are weary and are in fear of our lives. We will be grateful for your help in getting across the bridge.” With that, he and his men bowed.

Seeming to remember something, the leader added, “We stopped a while back to loosen
some of the planks on the bridge to slow our enemy. I do not want for you to be hurt, so when we get to the other side, I will have a couple of our young men accompany you to the loosened planks and ensure that you cross them safely.”

“Many thanks to you,” Tiger said.

Blake and Tiger walked toward the fleeing people, hoisted two heavy trunks onto their
shoulders, turned around, and carried the trunks clear to the end of the bridge where they had started.

When everyone reached that side, the leader thanked Tiger and Blake again and wished
them a safe journey. The two boys, in turn, wished them the same and said they hoped the people would find a better, safer place to live. The two groups parted as friends.

Tiger, Blake, and two young warriors then set out once again across the bridge with the
warriors in the lead. From having walked back and forth along the bridge, Tiger and Blake now had their “legs” and could move fast without the fear of slipping. When they got to the loosened planks, the warriors made sure that Tiger and Blake crossed safely before heading back to catch up with their people.

Once they made it to the end of the bridge, Blake sighed deeply. “I thought we were
going to have to fight out there,” he said.

Tiger replied, “Sensei told me that sometimes there is no avoiding a fight. But most of the
time, we can use our training and our intelligence to prevent violence.”

“Like you did when you bowed,” Blake said. “I could see that the stranger, who was very
angry, started to calm down when you honored him in that way. And he changed completely
when you offered our help in carrying their possessions.”

“We learned an important lesson about courtesy today, Blake, one that we will probably
have to use often on this journey.”

“It looks like courtesy is our first line of self defense. That simple show of respect turned
a potential enemy into a friend. What could be better than that?” observed Blake.

Tiger told Blake that they should move out of sight, because the enemies the fleeing
people feared were probably on their way. From the bridge, they headed off to the left and up a gentle slope to nearby hills. Safely out of view, Tiger and Blake could see a small band of warriors far to the south making their way to the footbridge. They were carrying swords, staffs, and clubs, and they jogged in tight formation. Even from this distance, Tiger and Blake could hear the pounding of their feet. The boys knew that they were not to be trifled with. After watching for a while, they looked at the map.

“Wow, Blake!” Tiger said excitedly. “There’s an image now of a person bowing on the
map above the footbridge and the word COURTESY.”

“This map is so cool!”

Tiger smiled his agreement and then carefully folded the parchment and placed it back in
its pouch. He knew this was no ordinary map.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old.  His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981, with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.

kids bullying

Bullying Prevention Part One: What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied

What Is Bullying?

(adapted from and the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program)

Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. A child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Usually, bullying is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation using gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); and sending insulting messages by phone or computer e-mail (cyber bullying).

Effects Of Bullying
Bullying can have serious consequences. Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely, anxious, have low self-esteem, be absent from school, feel sick, and think about suicide.

Reporting Bullying to Parents
Children frequently do not tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed, ashamed, frightened of the children who are bullying them, or afraid of being seen as a “tattler.” If your child tells you about being bullied, it has taken a lot of courage to do so. Your child needs your help to stop the bullying.

What to do if your child is being bullied
1. Focus on your child.
Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Never tell your child to ignore the bullying.What the child may “hear” is that you are going to ignore it. If the child were able to simply ignore it, he or she likely would not have told you about it. Ignoring bullying often allows it to become more serious. Don’t blame the child who is being bullied. Don’t assume that your child did something to provoke the bullying. Don’t say, “What did you do to aggravate the other child?” Listen carefully to what your child tells you about the bullying. Ask him or her to describe who was involved and how and where each bullying episode happened. Learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used, and when and where the bullying happened. Can your child name other children or adults who may have witnessed the bullying? Empathize with your child. Tell him/her that bullying is wrong, not their fault, and that you are glad he or she had the courage to tell you about it. Ask your child what he or she thinks can be done to help. Assure him or her that you will think about what needs to be done and you will let him or her know what you are going to do.
If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don’t criticize him or her. Do not encourage physical retaliation (“Just hit them back”) as a solution. Hitting another student is not likely to end the problem; it could get your child suspended or expelled or escalate the situation. Check your emotions. A parent’s protective instincts stir strong emotions. Although it is difficult, a parent is wise to step back and consider the next steps carefully.

2. Contact your Child’s Teacher or Principal
Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the help of adults. Keep your emotions in check. Give factual information about your child’s experience of being bullied including who, what, when, where, and how. Emphasize that you want to work with the staff at school to find a solution to stop the bullying, for the sake of your child as well as other students. Do not contact the parents of the student(s) who bullied your child. This is usually a parent’s first response, but sometimes it makes matters worse. School officials should contact the parents of the
child or children who did the bullying. Expect the bullying to stop. Talk regularly with your child and with school staff to see whether the bullying has stopped. If the bullying persists, contact school authorities again.

3. Help your child become more resilient to bullying.
Help to develop talents or positive attributes of your child. Suggest and facilitate music, athletics, and art activities [Martial arts is a great choice!]. Doing so may help your child be more confident among his or her peers. Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in his or her class. Your child’s teacher may be able to suggest students with whom your child can make friends, spend time, or collaborate on work.
Help your child meet new friends outside of the school environment. A new environment can provide a “fresh start” for a child who has been bullied repeatedly. Teach your child safety strategies. Teach him or her how to seek help from an adult when feeling
threatened by a bully. Talk about whom he or she should go to for help and role-play what he or she should say. Assure your child that reporting bullying is not the same as tattling.
Ask yourself if your child is being bullied because of a learning difficulty or a lack of social skills? If your child is hyperactive, impulsive, or overly talkative, the child who bullies may be reacting out of annoyance. This doesn’t make the bullying right, but it may help to explain why your child is being bullied. If your child easily irritates people, seek help from a counselor so that your child can better learn the informal social rules of his or her peer group. Home is where the heart is. Make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment where he or she can take shelter, physically and emotionally. Always maintain open lines of communication with your child.

Other resources and things You Can Do!
Go to for other materials on Bullying Prevention and parent resources. Bring a Shotokan Karate Leadership School® instructor to your school to talk about bullying prevention or help your teachers. Your Shotokan Karate Leadership School® Instructor can help your child’s school in a variety of ways including safety classes, character training, and more. All of this information is based on the most fully researched and effective Bullying Prevention Program in the world – the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program ( Encourage your school’s administration to have an Olweus Certified Trainer come to your child’s school and implement the program.
If your child is not a student at Shotokan Karate Leadership School® enroll right now! The Shotokan Karate Leadership School® program will help build your child’s confidence and self-discipline so they can handle anything! Research has shown that getting a Black Belt reduces bullying more than any school based bullying prevention program!


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.

7 Reasons Why Your Child Should Practice Martial Arts

7 Reasons Why Your Child Should  Practice Martial Arts 

By Eric C. Stevens, Contributor – Martial Arts, Sports Psychology 

“The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in  front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups.” 

– Bruce Lee 

Recently on a visit back home, I met my one of my close friends at his son’s martial arts studio so I could  drop in and see what young Ethan was up to. Ethan was one step away from getting his white belt in  Shotokan Karate. He beamed with pride as we watched him do various forms and drills. Shortly after I  left town, Ethan earned his white belt, upon which he got to join the big kids in the adjacent room. There  the big kids practice more advanced forms, techniques, and even some sparring. He was thrilled. 

Ethan’s always been a good kid, but from what I observed the martial arts gave him quite a healthy dose  of self esteem and self respect – two of the many benefits one gains with participation in them. Whether  your kid is too bossy, too shy, or perhaps just a little hyper, the martial arts can help your child learn  many important life lessons. (And, of course, those same lessons apply for all of us, not just kids.) 

Why Your Child Should Practice Martial Arts 

Reason #1: They (and You) Will Get More Active 

This is the obvious reason kids should do martial arts in this day and age – to get active and moving. In  case you haven’t noticed, we have an epidemic when it comes to our nation’s obesity problem. We’re  also increasingly unfit in addition to being overweight. The problem is particularly alarming as it relates to  our kids. Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete and  many schools no longer offer PE. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness,  becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person. When I was practicing boxing or Muay Thai kickboxing on a daily basis, I was in the best shape of my life by a long shot. Martial arts can  help your child get fit and healthy. 

Reason #2: They’ll Learn to Find Focus and Stillness 

Of the many challenges that parents face today, one is that we are constantly plugged in. While there are  a great many benefits to the Internet, there are many more benefits in stillness and silence. Unfortunately  stillness and silence seem to be rare to find. At some juncture in life, every one of us comes to learn that  

the greatest obstacle we face in this lifetime is ourselves. That battle is fought in the stillness of our  hearts and the willingness to confront ourselves. As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks,  and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. In years of  martial arts classes, I remember many challenges, breakthroughs, and setbacks. What I do not  remember are distractions or gimmicks like you often see at your local health club. At the martial arts  studios and boxing gyms where I trained, there was no loud music or flat screen TVs, just hard work and  sweat equity. As a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged, and focused. 

Reason #3: They’ll Learn to Take Hits 

In the martial arts, your child will learn what it is to take a hit, whether that hit is a literal blow or a  disappointment like failing a test. Part of life is learning that we all take hits. The key is in learning how  best to take that hit and get back up. Unfortunately, this lesson seems to be lost on many in our every kid-gets-a-trophy culture. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail – a lot. Half of martial arts is hitting,  but half is also getting hit. 

When people hire me to teach them boxing, they can’t wait to lace up the gloves and start hitting things.  Seldom does someone mention how enjoyable it is when I tap him or her upside the head with a focus  mitt for dropping their hands. The first time I got struck in the head sparring in kung fu, I immediately  rushed to the mirror to see if there was a mark on my face. The students in class laughed about it for  months. While I didn’t find it too funny at the time, I came to learn that accepting I would get hit enabled  me to relax and better protect myself. That acceptance led me to be able to better respond, maneuver,  and anticipate. Ironically, learning how to take a hit is perhaps the best way for your kid to learn how to  avoid it. 

Reason #4: They’ll Gain Self Confidence and Self Respect 

As noted in talking about my friend’s son Ethan, I was able to witness firsthand the confidence he gained  by participating in the martial arts. Being able to advance and play with the big kids gave Ethan a  tremendous amount of confidence. Of course, playing with the big kids also gives all of us a little  reminder of humility – someone is always bigger and stronger. I remember sifu gently threatening the two  young boys in our kung fu class that if they ever used their kung fu training in the wrong way or to show  off he would have their hide. The right martial arts school will teach your child that there are no tough  guys. Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respect and true confidence. Your child will learn  that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge. 

Reason #5: They’ll Connect Their Mind and Body 

What they don’t teach you at your local health club is how to really listen to your body. To listen to your  body is to also see your thoughts and have heightened awareness of your emotional construct. A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen – both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear, and  courage are examples of being able to put the physical together with the mental. How often have we  heard the phrase “being paralyzed with fear”? Being able to combat such a thing is what you learn in the  martial arts. 

Reason #6: They’ll Learn Conflict Resolution 

People often ask me whether I have ever used my martial arts and boxing training in a fight. Indeed I  have used the skill sets learned from martial arts many times to resolve conflict, but thankfully, never in a  physical altercation (outside the ring, of course). One of the first lessons Sifu taught us in kung fu was  that words were never grounds for a fight. That advice right there has saved me many times. In the  martial arts, you learn that there is no such thing as “fighting” words. Instead, you learn to respond  without reacting in the martial arts. 

Reason #7: They’ll Learn to Breathe 

Of the many things I have learned in the martial arts and boxing, breathing is near the top. Back in my  kung-fu days, Sifu told me that he could tell how someone fights just by observing how he or she  breathes. Indeed, nothing is more essential to the success of how we move our body then tapping into  the life force of our essence – our breath. Ask a professional athlete, or an actor, dancer, or signer, and  they will tell you that to succeed in any physical craft is to access your breath correctly. I am shocked at  times working with adults who never learned to breathe properly when under physical exertion. This skill  can literally save your life. In the martial arts your kid will learn the essence of how to breathe and even  relax under pressure.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.

“Body Composition Tested” Martial Artists Free-Spar Obesity and WIN!

There are many ways to accurately assess whether a person is clinically overweight or obese, one of
the easiest being body composition testing. Testing can be very helpful in combatting obesity when performed properly and safeguards followed. Likewise, there are many ways to curb the incline of obesity rates nationwide, one of the overall best being regular training in the Martial Arts!

It is an alarming and unfortunate fact that childhood obesity is rampant in the U.S. and most developed countries. A current controversy in American physical education (P.E.) classes is whether to administer to students the simple, non-invasive analytical procedure known as body composition testing. There are legitimate reasons for the testing and evaluation, but valid concerns to be addressed, such as privacy controls, training, and advisement.

Body composition testing is used to determine the percent of body fat by taking three to seven skin-fold measurements using calipers. There are other methods available, but this one is usually used by schools and can be fairly accurate when administered by minimally trained personnel. In the school setting, a member of the same sex should administer the test.
Some “pros” of testing:

  • It could put many teens, especially girls in the “normal” range.
  • Borderline teens would be aware of a potentially dangerous health issue which a physician could
    help them address.
  • Evaluation may encourage some to pursue more active lifestyles or nutritional habits.

Some “cons” of testing:

  • It may hurt the self-esteem of those with an otherwise healthy and positive self-image.
  • False results are possible. A recent study has shown that tired or untrained personnel may alter
    results by 20%.
  • Students may compare scores that could prompt eating disorders or other undesirable response.

Many adults have nightmare stories of discomfort, humiliation, or worse from their school days in P.E., but today’s teachers are working to erase that outdated image. One thing that never changes is that information improperly communicated, phrased or spoken in the wrong way, can have a detrimental lifelong effect on someone. This is why the results of body composition testing should be kept strictly confidential. Students should be advised against comparing their numbers with those of other students. “Fat shaming” is a commonplace form of bullying and students should be reminded about the policies in place at their school.

The “obesity epidemic” didn’t happen overnight. Its demise will take a lot of time too, evidently much longer. In order for body composition testing to have a positive effect on a class or community, the community has to be willing to make changes. Are there safe areas for students to have fun that are also physical? Does the community have parks or youth centers for the kids to meet? Do kids hang out at the fast food joints mainly because they feel welcome and safe? Are there any adequate alternatives? Is it cost prohibitive for many students to participate on local teams? Testing is only one part of what needs to be evaluated to curb the rise in obesity everywhere. Martial Arts training can be an integral part of the solution. They deliver many health and fitness benefits, such as preventing or remediating obesity, for millions of students of all ages worldwide as they have for generations and will continue unabated.

“Each student’s Martial Arts journey is a unique set of ‘personal victories’ that are rewarding, motivating, and structured for personal self-improvement both mentally and physically,” says Taekwondo and Krav Maga instructor Senior Master Tracy Lee Thomas, 7BD, of Virginia Beach, VA. “Fighting obesity requires our commitment to being proactive and educating our youth on the importance of healthy eating habits and an energetic physical fitness routine. Martial Arts training is more than just kicking and punching: it’s a way of thinking and doing that changes us and leads to better, safer, healthier, and longer lives!”