TGJ: Ascent to Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Tiger was walking alone along the ridge of the mountain. Blake had wanted to come
along, but Tiger had to tell him that he needed to do the last leg of this journey alone. “Blake, you’re a good friend, and you’ve been a great companion, but I need to do this on my own.”

Blake was a little put off at first, but then he came around. “I understand, Tiger. I will be with you in spirit. I’m honored to have shared this much of your great journey with you.”

Tiger thanked him and then started off.

He had taken one last look at the parchment map he had found when he and Blake started
this great journey. It was now complete. Creativity, the last of the twelve leadership traits,
represented as a book with empty pages, had appeared on the map. He was now on the last leg of his Great Journey to Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds.

The air was crisp and mild, and the sun felt good on his face. He let his mind rest on thoughts and images as they came and went, keeping him company. He knew where he was
going this time, as he walked purposefully without hurrying.

In the distance, the temple sat on the mountain peak. White clouds bumped into the towers reaching up from the solid stone structure. Tiger wasn’t sure how far the walk was, as distance could be deceiving here, but he was content to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful vistas that surrounded him.

After about an hour, the path turned away from the edge of the ridge into the end of a broad meadow. Tiger could hear sheep bleating up ahead. After a few minutes, he saw them in the meadow grazing on grass. The herd looked to be well-fed and well-cared for. He saw tents a
little farther ahead along the path he was following.

As Tiger approached the encampment, one of the shepherds saw him and waved to him. Tiger waved back, and the man walked toward him.

“Good afternoon,” the man said.

“Good day to you, sir,” Tiger replied while extending his hand. “My name is Tiger.”

“My name is Kai,” the man said. “Where are you from?”

Tiger thought for a moment, as this wasn’t as easy to answer as one might think. “I’m
from California.”

“Is this far away?” Kai asked. “I have not heard of this place.”

“Yes, it is far away.”

“Then you must join us for tea. It is time for all of us to gather for a break from our work.”

Tiger smiled and said that he would be delighted to do so. Tiger knew that many of the people in this area would take a refusal of hospitality as an insult, and he didn’t want to be

Kai guided Tiger to the center of the campsite, where many of the shepherds and their families had gathered for tea and a break from work. Kai introduced him to the group who were sitting on blankets and small folding chairs. His presence caused quite a stir, as they were not used to visitors, especially from far away.

Tiger’s hosts were curious about where he came from and marveled at his gi. Tiger thought about how he should answer them and decided to tell them the Story of Shotokan Karate
Leadership Schools.

He told them how karate was a system of self-defense that gave its practitioners enormous energy, confidence, and freedom. He told them about the great and humble leader, Gichin Funakoshi, and how he had a dream to see karate practiced by people from all around the
world. And he told them how Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools had created a system that used karate as a platform to train young people to be leaders so that they could transform their world.

The shepherds were very attentive and asked Tiger many questions. When he had finished, Kai asked Tiger if he would like to stay for dinner. But Tiger told him he had to move on and excused himself. Kai asked him where he was headed, and Tiger told him that he was going to the top of Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds.

Kai looked at Tiger very seriously and nodded. He said, “Many times members of our community sought to visit the Temple that lives in the clouds. They would journey for many
days without ever coming closer. After many more days, they would return. I am afraid that
perhaps Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds is only a mirage.”

Tiger smiled at Kai and thanked him for his hospitality. He turned away and continued his journey. Tiger suspected that the Temple of the Clouds was only to be found by those few who knew the way.

In the middle of the afternoon, when the sun was at its warmest, Tiger gazed at the distant
Temple; it appeared to him that it had moved a bit closer.

As he walked, Tiger thought about the many adventures he had embarked on through the
Book of the Empty Mind. He remembered the day at the beach when he met the Old Man, and how important he had become to him. With each leg of his journey, Tiger’s grasp of what he had said evolved. “Tiger, what you see with your eyes is merely the surface of all that there is to see” was his admonition. Tiger had come to realize how this applied to leadership, karate, and the relationships he shared with all the people in his life.

The trail that Tiger was following had returned to the ridge. The Temple of the Clouds
was only visible at certain times, as rocks and boulders obscured the view.

The daylight was failing now; the air became crisp, but Tiger was comfortable in his gi as he walked on. Tiger saw that he was no longer on a trail. He was now walking on a path made of the rock, which had been worn smooth by the passing of generations of feet. He felt proud to share this path that so many had walked on before. He thought about how many passages it had taken to polish the stones. It occurred to him that Sensei had polished and honed his character and skills through years of training.

As the dusk slipped into darkness, Tiger had reached a great staircase. Every twenty steps, a torch flickered at either side to light the way up, with the towers of the Temple beckoning in the distance.

Tiger put his foot on the first step and began his ascent. They were taller and longer than normal, and it took extra effort to ascend them. A test of my resolve, Tiger mused. He arrived at the first pool of light after twenty steps. The next step was twice as high and had the figure of a bowing karate-ka carved into it. This time a figure in seiza was carved into the stone. On the next step there was a carving of a karate student in forward stance; then came the step with a student doing a front kick, followed by another one with a carving of a student sword-hand blocking in back stance, which was followed by a step with a student who was roundhouse kicking. Continuing his arduous climb, Tiger saw another step with a student performing sideelbow strike in side stance, then one with a student performing a step-in-punch middle-body, another one with a student side-snap kicking; followed by one with a student side-thrust kicking, and yet another one with a student performing a pressing block and spear-hand thrust in forward stance.

As he climbed the steps and saw the different carvings, Tiger came to understand the meaning of it all. The carvings represented the basic karate skills, and the steps stood for
repetition, which was necessary to master these skills. When Tiger reached the top of the
staircase, the final carving was the same as the first: a figure bowing. Tiger looked back down the staircase and realized that he hadn’t even thought about how many steps he had taken to get here.

Tiger took one last look at the flickering staircase, turned, and moved on. The path had
changed into an avenue wide enough for five men to walk down. He charged ahead and saw that the path turned to the right.

As he arrived at the turn, Tiger came to an abrupt stop. The path ahead was paved with stone and lined with twelve free-standing granite columns, six on each side about five yards
apart. Much farther ahead, Tiger could see there was a stairway leading to the Temple of the
Clouds. He was awestruck by the strength and immensity of the structure. It stood alone on an open field atop Ryoku Mountain. It appeared to be about a hundred feet high and twice as wide and long, and made of thick sturdy timbers.

Tiger stood up a little straighter and walked on. As he approached the first of the columns, he looked up and saw the symbol for the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait of Courage—a small child standing up to a large man. The next column displayed Courtesy—a figure bowing. Then came Integrity—a handshake; Humility—a child sitting in seiza; Self Control—a closed fist in an open hand; Trust—two figures sparring; Endeavor—a figure in side stance; Responsibility—a belt tied in a square knot; Cooperation—two figures stretching each other simultaneously; Justice—a dove with the Scales of Justice in its beak; Compassion—a hand reaching up and another hand reaching down to give a hand up; Creativity—an open book with blank pages.

These pillars were the Traits of the Black Belt Shoka Leader, the foundation upon which a leader stood. Tiger passed the last column and ventured into the darkness beyond.
After he had walked about fifty steps, he saw a circle of light. As he approached it, he saw a man sitting cross-legged at a table with a teapot and two cups.

“Sit, Tiger, and let us speak,” he said.

Tiger sat down as the man poured a cup of tea for both of them. The man was trim and in
excellent health, and he gave the impression of being a lot older than he looked.

“The journey of a Black Belt Shoka Leader is a long one,” the man said. “What wisdom
do you have to share with me?” Tiger thought for a moment about all of his experiences in the dojo, in his life, and with the Book of the Empty Mind.

“I have come to realize that for me to be able to receive all that I could from my journey; I had to release my mind. The first time I opened the Book of the Empty Mind I did not know
what to expect; it was new, exhilarating, and mysterious. I learned a lesson but perhaps missed its deeper meanings. As I practiced Heian Shodan as a Team Member, I just wanted to put all the moves in the right spot. When I practice Heian Shodan as an Assistant School Leader, I am still learning new things about the kata that I have performed thousands of times. Releasing my mind allows me to be able to receive whatever lesson or insight there is for me that day, because I am in a receptive state. By letting go, releasing, I can hold on to so much more that is important.”

The man picked up his cup and sipped. “Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Tiger. Your
insight will help you in your journey. You may proceed.”

“Thank you, sir,” Tiger said as he stood up. And as he did, the light faded and the man
was gone.

Tiger looked toward the Temple of the Clouds and began walking again when torches
started to rise up along the sides of the avenue. As the light grew brighter, he saw that he had walked into an area that was perfectly flat, and along the sides stood many students in karate-gis.

A powerful male voice shouted, “Kihon!”

Immediately Tiger was surrounded on all sides by dozens of karate students who lined up
along with him.

Then the voice commanded, “Yamae, make forward stance, now step-in-punch upperbody, twice middle-body. Ich, ni, san, shi, go, rok.”

Tiger kiaied at the end of each combination, as the voice put him and the other students
through the basics at a blistering pace. “Step-back rising block, reverse-punch middle-body. Ich, ni, san, shi, go, rok. Return. Step-in outside-forearm block, side-stance side-elbow strike, downward-back-fist strike. Ichi, ni, san, shi, go. Step-back, back-stance sword-hand block, frontleg front-kick, forward-stance spear-hand thrust, ichi, ni, san, shi, go.” The voice continued to take the students through their basics at a relentless pace. The students had run through all of the basics except for the last.

In front of each student there appeared a light, much like a firefly hovering in the air. The
voice said, “Punch ten times at the small moving target, and stop your fist within a quarter of an inch without hitting it.” The light jerked to the right of Tiger and stopped. “Ich.” Tiger punched and kiaied, his punch stopping a quarter inch from the target. Again the target moved, down to the center. “Ni.” Tiger punched and kiaied. Now the target shot up to the left. “San.” The target moved; “shi,” the target moved; “go.” This continued until the final time, “ju.” Tiger punched again with kime, stopped a quarter inch from the target and kiaied.

Everything turned silent as the students stood, and the lights hung in the air. “Yame,” the
voice said. Tiger returned to the ready stance. He was still flanked on all side by students. “You may proceed,” the voice said. As rapidly as they had appeared, the students shot out into the fading torch light, leaving the Temple as a beacon for Tiger to Follow.

Tiger continued on his path toward the Temple of the Clouds. He was now halfway there.
The light again arose around him, but this time he found himself in a large square. Tiger stopped and stood at the ready, waiting for his instructions. He could see hundreds of students surrounding him on the edge of the darkness.

“Kata!” this time the powerful voice was female. “Yame” Tiger stood ready. “Rei” Tiger bowed. “Heian Godan.”

“Heian Godan,” Tiger said clearly in loud, firm voice.


All of his training had come down to this day. As he performed the kata, Tiger realized
that each movement came from a place deep inside him, flowing out of him like water. When he finished the last movement he stood ready and watching for more imaginary attackers.

“Yamae,” replied the voice.

He then returned to natural stance and bowed.

“Bassai Dai!” said the voice.

“Bassai Dai!” Tiger thundered.


Tiger was still for a moment, as his surroundings melted away. He performed the first
move. In his mind he saw and heard each attacker. The fluidity and kime of his movements made his performance memorable. To all who were watching, there was no doubt that he was stopping the many imaginary opponents who were attacking him. Each technique was crisp and smooth, and his kiais were loud and powerful. When the last one rang out, it reverberated back from the adjacent peaks like an answer to his cry. He held his attention.

“Yamae,” said the voice. “Proceed.”

With that, the light faded, and Tiger walked toward the Temple. As he moved closer, he
could see the temple’s features. Carved on the beam above the open doors was a tiger enclosed in a circle—the symbol of Shotokan Karate. Below that were the carved images of the Twelve Traits of a Black Belt Shoka Leader. Tiger walked into the temple and stood in the center. As he did, a spotlight arose that highlighted the center arena.

Tiger prepared himself for what lay ahead. Another voice spoke this time, “Kumite.”

Tiger surveyed his surroundings and saw that there were again many students surrounding him.

One stepped out and walked over to face him.

“Rei,” Came the command. Tiger and this unknown opponent bowed to each other.

“Hajime” The sparring match began.

Tiger kept his mind empty, as his opponent closed the distance and attacked his head. Tiger stepped back, blocked the punch, and then front kicked to the middle-body, while stepping-in and punching to the upper-body. His kick was blocked, his punch ducked, and his
opponent countered with a side-thrust kick to Tiger’s mid-section.

Tiger moved quickly to close the distance, but his opponent moved just as quickly back. Tiger stopped as if to retreat and his opponent moved back toward him; then Tiger sprung the trap. He stepped-back and quickly stepped-forward, firing a punch to conceal the front kick he unleashed at his opponent’s mid-section: it was a solid blow. His opponent drew back, and then shot-in at Tiger. Tiger reacted smoothly, stepping to the left and blocking his opponent’s punch with an upper-level inside-forearm block. His opponent spun and Tiger stepped-in and caught him with a perfectly timed punch to his throat. Tiger’s control was excellent as the punch stopped a quarter of an inch from the target.

“Yamae,” the voice said, and Tiger moved back to his starting position.

“Bow; and step back.” Tiger bowed and backed up to the edge of the room.

Light suddenly illuminated his surroundings. Tiger now had a clear view of the platform at the front of the room. It was an open stage and as wide as the room. He could see figures
standing on the steps that led from the center arena up onto the platform. Then he heard Sensei’s voice calling him to come forward.

As he walked forward, the students who had been sitting in the darkness all stood up. When Tiger approached the stairs, he began to make out the others who were on the stage. They were the instructors he knew from the dojo, and in the center stood Sensei. A little off to the side was the Old Man who had given him the Book of the Empty Mind. Just then Tiger recognized him. It was Master Funakoshi himself. He smiled at Tiger, and Tiger smiled back.

Sensei gestured to Tiger to come join them. When Tiger reached the top step, he bowed
first to Sensei and then bowed even more deeply to Master Funakoshi. He turned around and looked back over the many Black Belt Shoka Leaders who had come out onto the floor and begun training as single group of well-coordinated teams. They were performing basics and doing what good Shoka Leaders do everywhere, demonstrating the Twelve Traits of a Black Belt Shoka Leaders: courage, courtesy, integrity, humility, self-control, trust, endeavor, responsibility, cooperation, justice, compassion, and creativity.

Tiger blinked his eyes and heard Sensei say his name, “Tiger.”

He was back in the dojo, and Sensei was at the front of the room holding a black belt and
calling his name.

He had lived this great journey in the mountains in his imagination—and for real in the
dojo. It had transformed him. He was no longer the scrawny nine-year-old kid he was when he started. Now he was thirteen, a strapping young man, a fine leader, and a force to be reckoned with. He was now a Black Belt Shoka Leader, and he was here to receive the symbol of that rank—the Black Belt.

The one thing he had learned from this journey was that it was not enough just to be a
leader; he had to be a true leader: a hero. This great journey was not just for him; it was for all the people of the world. He knew that this was not the end, but rather the beginning. He had mastered the basics, but he still had so much more to learn. Now, his great journey would take him on a spiritual quest that would result in self-mastery, not for his own benefit, but to give him the opportunity to do as much as possible for the greatest number of people.

With that, Tiger stepped forward to receive what he had worked so hard for over so many




TGJ: The Last Requirement

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Tiger sat down at his desk and opened his Shoka Leader Handbook to the page that listed
the requirements for School Leader—Black Belt.

It had been four years since he started this great journey, and he was now within grasp of the rank that he had wanted for so long, that of Black Belt Shoka Leader. Tiger thought about the many lessons he had learned on his journey. The excitement he felt as he was approaching this goal was like a fire in his belly; it fueled his determination to achieve what he had worked hard for these many years.

Tiger took inventory of the work he had accomplished and the work he had left to do. He
had one last requirement to complete, and then he would hold the leadership rank of School Leader or Black Belt Shoka Leader.

Tiger had already completed many requirements.

First, he had been an Assistant School Leader I for three months.

Second, he mediated a dispute between two students. The dispute had arisen when two of the young Shoto Tigers had been practicing, and one of the students, Jimmy, accidentally hit Sadie when they were multi-step sparring. Tiger had sat the two students down and asked them to explain to each other how this made them feel. Sadie had said that it hurt and scared her. Jimmy said that he felt bad, because he didn’t mean to hit her, but because Sadie got mad, he got mad, too, instead of apologizing to her.

Tiger told them that sometimes people don’t do the right thing when they make a mistake, which will make things worse. He then asked Jimmy what he thought he should do. Jimmy said that he was sorry and that he liked to practice with Sadie.

Tiger then asked Sadie what she should do now that Jimmy had apologized. Sadie said that her side still hurt. Tiger turned to Jimmy and told him that when you hurt somebody you
have to apologize and make sure that the person is all right. The three of them waited a few
minutes; when the pain went away, Sadie said that she was all right. Then she asked Jimmy not to do that again. Jimmy repeated that he was sorry and Sadie said, “Okay.”

Tiger then thanked Sadie for accepting Jimmy’s apology.

The third School Leader requirement that Tiger had completed was to give the class commands. Tiger had been doing this for a long time, but he noticed that he kept getting better and better at it. He knew that this requirement meant that he would have to give the class commands as a Black Belt Shoka Leader would, not as a new member would. At first he had to learn all the words. Then he had to learn what they meant. Then he had to give each command in a powerful voice. Then he had to learn to give them at the right speed. And all of this developed over time.

The fourth requirement was to present himself impeccably dressed in his uniform to the
School Leader. Tiger took great pride in his uniform. He had a special place in his closet where it hung so that it would be wrinkle free and ready for him to put on when he went to class. He made sure to keep it ready to wear.

Requirement number five was to prepare a lesson plan and lead a group of three teams in
learning the material. He had finished this requirement a couple of months ago and had it signed off by Rachel, the current School Leader. He enjoyed teaching and looked forward to more chances to teach his fellow students. He felt really good when he saw the students he had taught perform well.

The sixth requirement that Tiger had completed was describing his leadership style to the
School Leader. He had determined what his leadership style was from reading the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. In it, Musashi explained ground, fire, water, air, and the void and their relation to leadership. A person who is grounded will proceed in a step-by-step manner. A person who possesses the fire element will rush in, determined to get things done. The person who is of the water element will lead by going with the flow. The person who leads from the air element will analyze the circumstances until he is absolutely certain and then create a detailed plan of action. And finally, the ultimate leadership style is shown by the person who is in the void. This person can adapt his leadership style to the situation he’s in and move freely from ground, fire, water, and air. Tiger saw his own style as being mostly ground with some water  element. He felt that most of the time, he wanted to have all his ducks in a row before proceeding. But he also knew that he wanted input from everyone and would decide which way to go after hearing from everyone.

The seventh requirement was to review again his long-term Shotokan Karate Leadership Goals with the School Leader. He knew that these reviews played a big part in getting him to
where he was now, within one step of becoming a Black Belt Shoka Leader.

For the eighth requirement Tiger had to show his School leader that he could tell a story and then lead a discussion about what it meant. The story he told was about what it meant to be a citizen in the United States. Tiger had memorized the preamble to the constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The discussion centered on Justice, Tranquility, and Liberty. Afterwards the students walked taller and spoke excitedly with their parents as they left the school.

The ninth requirement was to show the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait of creativity by creating a solution to a persistent problem in the school. The Young Tigers, who ranged in age from four to eight, would often get out of hand when they played one of the leadership
games, and it was becoming difficult to quiet them down and go back to training. This was the problem that Tiger wanted to solve, and he knew that he’d have to be creative to do it. He also knew that he had to confer with Sensei on this, because there was a lot that he didn’t understand about how to teach.

Ten, Tiger needed to describe a dream he had to make the world a better place. This was big. Tiger had never thought that he could do anything to make the world a better place, but here he was being required to do it to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader. It must be possible, otherwise why would it be a requirement? he thought. Then he remembered that part of the definition of being a Black Belt Shoka Leader was to see a problem, become passionate about solving it, and then become the leader that the solution to the problem demanded. That was the answer: become a greater person.

He’d read many stories about humble people who took action to solve problems that no one else was solving. And if they could do it, then he could do it too. And he knew that he was
far more likely to succeed because of the leadership training he was receiving at Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools. Tiger remembered a quote from Masatoshi Nakayama: “Deciding who is the winner, and who is the loser is not the ultimate objective. Karate-do [the way of the empty hand] is a martial art for the development of character through training, so that the karate-ka [karate student] can surmount any obstacle, tangible or intangible.” Tiger believed this and knew that his karate training was the foundation for him to make the world a better place.

The eleventh requirement was to lead a discussion about one of the Twelve Traits of a Black Belt Shoka Leader. Tiger had always been annoyed by the rude behavior of kids and knew
that courtesy was his favorite principle. He felt confident about being able to discuss this with the students in class. He would start the discussion by reminding students that good manners were your first line of self-defense, and that good manners made friends and bad manners created enemies. Sensei had discussed this in class many times, and Tiger agreed wholeheartedly. To him it was easy to see that it was much better to live your life making friends with good manners, rather than creating enemies with bad ones.

For the twelfth requirement Tiger had to tell the story of Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools to a group of ten or more people who were not members of the school. Tiger was
learning about public speaking at school and thought that this would be a good tie-in. So he
decided to talk to his teacher about giving him twenty minutes to tell the Story of SKLS to his class.

The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth requirements were to help Tiger prepare for his
Instructional Board Review. Prior to appearing before the Instructional Board, Tiger had to show the School Leader that he could perform the basics, sparring, and kata that were required for his final test.

The last requirement, which Tiger had not yet completed, was to perform the basics, sparring, and kata at the Instructional Board Review. This would be the culmination of all his hard work. He knew that he would have to keep in mind the Niju Kun that stated: “Do not clingto the idea of winning; it is the idea of not losing that is necessary.” Sensei had said that this applied to success in anything. If you focus on making sure that you don’t fail, then what is left is to succeed. Sensei used the example of facing eight opponents. You don’t have to defeat them; you just have to not be defeated by them. This was a different way of thinking about life that Tiger found intriguing.

Tiger sat down on the comfortable chair he had in his room and leaned back. He had been
working all day and needed a moment to rest. As he sat there, he gazed around his room and stopped when he saw the Book of the Empty Mind sitting on his book shelf. He got up and walked over to the shelf and retrieved the heavy volume. He sat on the edge of his bed and ran his fingers across the old leather cover. He smiled and opened the book.

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.


Relentess: Onward and Upward

In today’s Podcast, Sensei Callahan shares with us the importance of being relentless and moving “onward and upward” in a world wrought with obstacles and challenges.

TGJ: The Scales of Justice by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Tiger heard Blake calling in the distance, “Tiger, where are you?” The swirling snow made it hard for Tiger to see. He raised his hands in front of his face, and the stinging of the snow abated somewhat. He began to walk toward Blake’s voice and called out to him. It was hard to tell if he was getting nearer or farther away from Blake. Then he heard Blake call from nearby. Tiger turned and saw him come into view through the swirling snow. They were both happy to see each other and hugged with pure joy. Blake asked Tiger where they were. Tiger wasn’t sure, but he had a feeling they would soon find out.

Tiger said, “Let’s get moving!” and the two boys headed off into the snowstorm. After they had been hiking for an hour or so, the storm settled to a light snowfall, and the two boys
could finally see where they were headed. There was a canyon in the distance that appeared to be a good place to find shelter. As they neared the pass and began moving into the canyon, the light grew dim, and the mountains closed in around them.

Tiger and Blake both needed a rest. They had been traveling for a long while so they
decided to stop to rest and eat. They found a sheltered area and made themselves as comfortable as possible. Blake took hard tack from his pack and passed a large piece to Tiger. After eating, they drank from the clear stream that ran through the canyon.

The boys resumed their journey. As they turned a corner, they saw a huge scale. It looked
like one that Tiger had seen in an antique store he had visited with his mom not long ago, but it was enormous. Upon each of the plates that hung from the beam were twenty life-sized figures.

Along the top of the scale, the word JUSTICE was carved into the stone. The boys walked
towards it, amazed by its sheer size. As they drew closer, they could see staircases, which wound up the rock wall near each plate.

Tiger felt nervous.

Blake asked, “What do you think this is?” Tiger was not sure.

Blake started to climb the staircase. Something told Tiger this was a bad idea. He asked
Blake to stop, but Blake kept climbing. When he had reached the top, Tiger begged him again to stop, but Blake said, “They’re nothing but a bunch of old statues of knights and Kings.”

Blake stepped onto the closest metal plate. At first nothing happened, and then ever so
slowly the scales began to tip with Blake’s plate moving downward. And with the tipping came a cracking sound, as the figures began to glow red, and then to move.

Tiger yelled to Blake to jump, but as Blake turned to head back to the staircase, a knight
thrust his lance out to block him. A voice bellowed, “Who dares to disturb the scales of justice? You have stepped into a fight that is eternal, the fight for justice, and you have upset the balance. Now there will be war!”

Suddenly a loud boom echoed through the canyon. The knights had raised their lances
and were driving them down hard onto the platform. Simultaneously, the foot soldiers crashed their swords against their shields.

When Tiger thought it couldn’t get any louder, the noise doubled. To his dismay he saw
that the army on the other scale was also very much alive and brandishing weapons. These figures were glowing blue and glaring down at the Red Army that Blake had inadvertently joined. The clashing of metal against metal grew deafening. The Red King cried “silence!” and suddenly all was quiet but the running water.

Then the Blue King spoke, “Red Army, why have you disturbed the balance? You know
the consequences when Justice is not kept in balance. There will be war.”

Tiger could see that the situation was quickly getting out of hand. He didn’t know what to
do but thought that maybe he could try to calm the situation. In his most powerful voice, Tiger said, “Excuse me your highnesses.” It was suddenly silent again as all eyes turned to look at Tiger. A bolt of uncertainty shot through him.

“Who are you?” Red and Blue Kings said as one.

“I am Tiger. I’m on a journey to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader, and my friend Blake is accompanying me.”

“Leave us,” the Red King said. “We have a battle to wage so that the scales of justice may be balanced. One or more of us must be sacrificed for the sake of Justice”.

At that moment, a staircase appeared, connecting the two sides of the scale. The red knights raised their lances and the red soldiers held their swords, as they turned to face the inevitable onslaught from the Blue Army.

Tiger sensed that the situation had gone from bad to worse, so he took matters into his own hands. As fast as he could move, Tiger ran up the staircase to the side of the Blue Army. Because the scales had tipped, he had to make a mighty leap to reach the platform and as he landed, Tiger kiaed as loud as he could. Once again all eyes turned to Tiger, and very slowly the scales started to move back into balance.

A look of confusion passed across the faces of the two Armies.

The Blue King spoke first, “What have you done? You have denied us our honor. The
scales have been tipped. Justice must be served. But now we don’t know what to do, because although the scales are back in balance, we cannot return to our restful state. There are too many people on the scales. We must eliminate one from each side.”

At that, the nearest knight grabbed Tiger.

The Red King spoke, “I agree justice has not been served. Tradition says that we must fight until we are at our original number. I demand battle.”

With that, all of the soldiers beat their shields.

Tiger sensed that he must act or all would be lost. He cleared his throat and began to speak, “A fight without reason does not serve justice. My sensei says that a peaceful warrior is one who has great skill but does not need to fight, because he has learned that there is no winner in a fight where even one person gets hurt.”

The Kings looked at Tiger and seemed to be getting even angrier. He pressed on. “I don’t know why you have battled in the past, but perhaps you can solve the problem before you
without a battle today.”

The two Kings looked at each other with great distaste, but Tiger could see that they were
thinking hard. Neither King seemed to want to speak first, but finally the Blue King said, “The sands of time have hidden from us the reason that we choose to fight. I just know that it has always been so.”

“I too have searched my thoughts,” said the Red King, “and cannot recall why we have
such great animosity for each other. It has always been this way.”

Tiger saw a glimmer of hope and slowly eased out of the grasp of the knight who held
him. “Sensei has taught me that there is no justice in a fight which has no purpose. If you will allow me and my friend to leave in peace, it would serve justice better than to have us come to harm.”

The Red King looked at Tiger and said, “You have shown much bravery today. You leapt
into a battle that you had no part of to save a friend. You brought the scales back into balance. You have shared wisdom with all of us. But how do you propose to return us to our slumber? There are still too many to keep us in balance.”

Tiger looked at the King and said, “If you will allow my friend and I to step off the scales
together, your numbers will be restored, and you will return to your slumber.”

The two kings looked at each other. Then the Blue King tipped his scepter to show his
agreement. He then turned to Tiger and told him: “Take your leave of us as we are weary from the ages and the battles we have fought to keep the Scales of Justice in balance. We will try this new approach.”

Tiger looked at Blake. The knight raised his lance to clear Blake’s path to the stairs. Tiger
nodded to Blake to signal that they should step off the scales at the same time. For a moment the two armies stood looking at the boys. They looked very tired. Suddenly there was a flash of purple light as the two armies merged together, then disappeared.

Tiger and Blake stood looking at the empty scales. They didn’t know what had happened, but they had the sense that the two armies had found peace.

Later they consulted their map and found the word JUSTICE and a dove with the Scales
of Justice in its beak. When he saw this, Tiger realized a truth that had escaped him until now.

Peace is the result of justice being served.


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.