TGJ: Two Heads Are Better Than One by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Sensei called the class together and asked them to sit on the floor. He began the discussion by congratulating the students who had recently passed their tests. Tiger had been promoted to the rank of Senior Class Leader. He still wore a purple belt, but he was now ranked at fourth kyu, one of the ranks before black belt. This meant that he was a trainer now and responsible for the development of five Assistant Class Leaders and two Class Leaders.

“Now,” Sensei began, “let’s look at your Responsibilities of a Shoka Leader handbook to find out what new duties and responsibilities you will have.”

Sensei had a copy of the book with him and began to read, “Crucial to the training you are receiving here at Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools is becoming the person you need to be so that you can solve the problem you need to solve. When we talk about solving problems we’re talking about BIG PROBLEMS, not small problems. Big problems require working with many people. This means that you need to know how to cooperate and how to gain the Cooperation of other people.”

This was not complicated stuff. In fact, it could be said that it was common sense that you had to cooperate and gain the cooperation of others. Still, it seemed that many people lacked basic common sense. “We work at changing ourselves by first learning to be a part of a team and then leading a team. In class, the problem we are trying to solve is the problem of having to defend ourselves against people who are trying to hurt us. And we work in teams to stop the attackers and not be defeated by them.”

Sensei looked around before going on. “A Shoka Leader learns to see problems before they become too big and uses the brainpower and skills of many different people to solve those problems. Or to put it another way, a Shoka Leader takes on challenges that require him to become something more than he is right now. And in taking on these challenges, he or she helps the world to become a better place. He makes life better for other people. This is a great thing. The world needs more people who think this way. It is the Way of a Black Belt Shoka Leader.”

Sensei saw that the students were following these words, and so he continued, “Once you
master the skills of teamwork, you will become a Class Leader. You will work with several
teams at once and help them to solve the many and varied battles they have to fight to keep themselves and others safe.

“When you reach the level of Assistant School Leader, you will be working with everyone in the school—students, parents, visitors, guests, and friends, as well as anyone else we might come in contact with. That’s why there are many different people contributing to the school, all of whom help people learn about Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools and help our fellow students learn their skills. Take some time this evening to look at your Responsibilities of a Shoka Leader handbook and review what your responsibilities are. Now, let’s practice kata.”

Sensei walked through the class critiquing the students. The students had gotten used to
being critiqued, but it wasn’t easy. Many of the students did not like to have their weaknesses pointed out to them in front of others—or at least that’s how they thought of it. Sensei explained to them that there is a difference between criticizing and critiquing. Criticizing is a way of attacking another person, while critiquing them is a way of offering constructive feedback so that they can improve themselves.

Tiger had been working with Jason and Jolee. Each of them had as much experience as Tiger, and, like Tiger, they were Senior Class Leaders in the dojo. The three of them worked well together, because even though they were proficient in their own right, they understood how to cooperate and gain the cooperation of others.

Sensei listened in as they practiced Tekki Shodan. First Jolee asked Jason how he did the
second movement in which you raised your right leg high and then stomped on your imaginary opponent’s foot before hitting him with a backhand strike. She wanted to know what he did with his arms while he lifted his leg. Jolee had seen a couple of different ways in which this was done and knew that there was merit to each.

Jason did the movement slowly to show Jolee and Tiger what he was doing. It turned out
that Tiger and Jason did the movement the same way. They both kept their hands together and raised their arms up just enough to let the knee of their stomping leg come up high and close to the chest.

Jolee was used to doing this movement a little differently, but she knew that it would be better for the group if they all did it the same way.

This was cooperation in action, and it pleased Sensei to see his students applying it so easily.


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.

TGJ: Able to Respond by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

“Students,” Sensei said, “the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait we will be developing this week is Responsibility. Here at Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools we look at the root of the word responsibility and we see ‘able to respond’. With that thought, Team Leaders, please take a couple of minutes and discuss with your teammates the meaning of responsibility. Then prepare to share with the rest of us what you talked about.”

The students engaged in a lively discussion for several minutes. It went on a little longer than Sensei thought it would, but he could see that the teams were really getting into it, so he let it go. After some time had passed, Sensei called the class to order.

“Jerry, please tell us what your team was talking about,” asked Sensei. Jerry was the Team Leader of the Velociraptors, a three-person team that included Fabian and Kenji.

“Remember, Jerry, that when you speak you are addressing the whole class and not just talking to me.”

Jerry stood up and took two steps towards the front of the room so that he could be seen and heard better by all the students. Jerry had studied responsibility before and he knew that he was being responsible right now by putting himself in a position where he could be easily seen and heard. Sensei noticed this, too, and smiled inside, because when Jerry first came to Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools he challenged everybody and was headed for trouble. Now here he was not only acting responsibly but about to lecture the class on responsibility. It was a transformation.

“We said that being responsible means being trustworthy and dependable,” began Jerry.
“It means that people can count on you to do what you say you’ll do when you say you will do it. It means that you are able to respond in the way you say you will.”

“Thank you Jerry. That was perfect,” replied Sensei, as Jerry proudly turned and moved
over to sit down with his team.

“Tiger, tell us what your team talked about.”

Tiger stood up and moved to where the other students could see and hear him and began.
“Taking responsibility for something means that you will make sure something will happen or won’t happen. The reason we take responsibility so seriously here at Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools is because in self-defense, if you are not able to respond to an attack you may be seriously hurt or end up dead.”

“Excellent, Tiger,” said Sensei as he sat down.

“And it’s not enough,” Sensei continued, “to just know what responsibility means; we have to be responsible every day. Can someone give me an example of being responsible at

Hands shot up. Sensei called on Sara, who stood up and made sure she could be seen and
heard. “My mom wants me to look after my little sister when she has to run errands or do stuff. I like to do it, and my mom always thanks me and says I’ve been responsible when she comes home. And my little sister can be a real pain.” All the students laughed.

“One more example, and then we’ll start training,” said Sensei.

Hands shot up again and this time Sensei called on Erik.

“Feeding my dog—my dad says I’m being responsible when I feed my dog,” Erik answered.

“Erik,” Sensei said, “Feeding your dog is another way to be responsible.” Then Sensei called on Harerta, the Class Leader, to have the teams spread out and get ready to practice. Harerta, in turn, told the Team Leaders to have their teams line up. She then walked back to
where the shoes were lined up on the floor and picked up a pair of shoes that had been thrown down instead of put in their place. She called to the class, “Whose shoes are these? They need to be arranged properly.” John, one of the new students, hurried over and, looking a little embarrassed, took his shoes from her and put them down neatly with the others. “Thank you,” Harerta said simply, not wanting to call any more attention to him.

Harerta then told the Team Leaders to perform an inspection. Each Team Leader
examined their members’ uniforms. A few students did not have their belts tied correctly. Others did not have the sleeves and cuffs rolled up properly. And one new student, Jim, even had his pants on backwards. When the class heard this, they all laughed and laughed. Harerta asked them to quiet down, then said to Jim, “You’re not the first student to put his pants on backwards, so don’t let it bother you.” And with that she sent him to the changing room.

After dinner and homework one evening, Tiger got out his Shoka Leader Handbook and
began looking at the requirements for Senior Class Leader. He had just earned his Class Leader rank and wanted to see what would be required of him to advance to the next level. He knew that he would be learning new skills and a new kata, and he was ready to go to work. Tiger felt that he was beginning to understand the responsibility that came with the knowledge and skills he was learning. He looked at the list of requirements and saw that some of them were repeats of previous requirements. He knew this was because these were important and needed to be stressed over and over. The ones that were new to him he read more carefully.

One of the new requirements was to pick a school rule and explain it to his Assistant
School Leader how it might be interpreted differently by different people. An Assistant School Leader had previously explained to the class that recognizing that people see things differently was an important part of being fair and would help others settle their differences.

The next new requirement was to tell a story about how he used good manners to make
others feel better. He knew good manners could make others feel better, because the other day at his school when he saw Sally struggling to get out a door with a heavy box, he opened it for her. She smiled at him and thanked him. He felt great about this and so did Sally. He also knew that bad manners make others feel bad towards you, because another time at school, Joey cut right in front of him at the drinking fountain and knocked him down. This made Tiger angry, and he wanted to shove Joey back.

Another new requirement was for Tiger to show his Assistant School Leader that he was
willing to help all the students in his class. He knew that this was part of being a responsible
Shoka Leader. There were some kids who were not well behaved and whom he’d rather ignore, but he had to figure out a way to support them, too.

Next on the list of requirements was the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait of
Cooperation. He’d have to convince the students in his class to work together. Some kids already could do this, but there were a few who were still figuring it out.

He would also have to show his parents that he was becoming more of a leader by taking
the lead in accomplishing a home project. He remembered his dad moaning about all the
weeding that had to be done in the garden, so he thought weeding might be a good project to take the lead on.

One of the requirements was going to be very difficult. He knew what it meant to endeavor, but to endeavor in the face of six opponents attacking you at once would be really tough, but he was looking forward to learning and taking on this challenge.

Another requirement was to read the Niju Kun and be prepared to talk about one of the
twenty principles; he was to choose the principle that appealed to him the most. Tiger knew that Gichin Funakoshi was considered to be the Father of Modern Day Karate and a great man. He also knew that the Niju Kun was an important part of Gichin Funakoshi’s contribution to the world. So he wanted to give this the respect it deserved. He paged forward in the Shoka Leader Handbook and found the section on the Niju Kun and spent a few minutes reviewing it. He liked number twelve, the one that said, “Do not cling to the idea of winning; it is the idea of losing that is not necessary.” He thought about this and remembered that Sensei had talked about it recently. In defending yourself you didn’t have to beat up your attackers; you just had to not be beaten by them.

He was also going to be required to tell his class the Story of the Wooden Rooster and lead a discussion of the lessons contained in it. He loved to hear stories and wanted to be able to
tell a good story, so now was his chance to learn. But he didn’t know why storytelling and, in
particular, why the Story of the Wooden Rooster was so important to a Black Belt Shoka Leader. He made a mental note to ask his Assistant School Leader about this.

Tiger would also need to lead a class in the conditioning exercises. He remembered how some of the kids had been complaining about doing these exercises, and how hard they had been for him. He remembered how Sensei had stopped the class and asked them again if they wanted to be weak when they grew up or whether they wanted to be strong. Well, everyone wanted to be strong, and they all knew that to be strong you had to do things that were hard for you to do. They just didn’t want to be reminded of that. But they relented and went to work. When they were finished, Sensei thanked everyone for being such good students. He said that it was a joy for him to teach them. And the class knew he really meant it, because there was a sparkle in his eyes.

The last requirements were the karate requirements. Tiger would have to perform basics,
kata, and sparring. He was getting better at knowing the Japanese terms. Kihon, he had learned, meant basics. Kata was a series of movements against imaginary opponents. Kumite was an engagement with another student designed so that each student could improve. Often in kumite one student was the attacker, and the other was the defender. The objective was for both people to pretend that they were deadly enemies and to attack and defend with spirit and vigor. It was clear that in reality they were partners who wanted to help each other improve as much as they wanted themselves to improve.

All in all, working on these requirements was going to be challenging, but Tiger knew that once he had the skills he’d gain from completing these challenges that he’d have taken another step forward to being the Black Belt Shoka Leader who he wanted to be.

TGJ: The Meaning of Trust by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

After arriving at the dojo, Tiger found a place to sit and waited patiently for the class to start. He was excited about what he had learned since his recent promotion, but he restrained his exuberance enough to focus. Yesterday, Sensei had complimented him on the progress he had made with his kata, Heian Sandan. Tiger thought he was getting better, but until Sensei’s words, he didn’t know for sure. Now he felt confident and determined.

Wendy called for the class to line up. Tiger checked his gi once more. He wanted to set a
good example to his classmates. He remembered Sensei saying that leaders needed to set the example for those who followed them. Tiger bowed as he walked out on the mat and lined up with the other orange belts. His teammate Greg, who was standing next to him, was talking to the student on his other side. Tiger nudged Greg with his elbow and looked at him to remind him to stop talking. Tiger knew that standing quietly is a sign of respect to Sensei, the dojo, and the other students. Greg stopped talking, faced the front, put his heels together, toes open, arms by his sides, and didn’t move. Wendy gave the seiza command and the opening ceremony started.

Wendy led the warm-up exercises, and then Sensei had the students sit down with their
teammates. Sensei said, “The Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait that we are studying this week is Trust. Please take a few minutes and discuss with your team the meaning of trust and being trustworthy. Why must a Black Belt Shoka Leader be trustworthy?”

After a few minutes, Sensei asked for everyone’s attention. Being the Class Leader,
Wendy was watching the class and noticed that two of the team members were still talking, so she walked towards them and, with a wave, got their attention and pointed to Sensei. They figured out what she was telling them and quieted down.

Sensei directed the class’ attention to Tiger’s team and asked them to tell everyone what
they had just talked about. Greg began to speak, “Trust means to know that you can count on someone to do what they say they are going to do. As Shoka Leaders we are being trained to solve big problems. And to solve these problems, we will have to work together. We have to know that others are depending on us, that the success of the whole project is depending on us, and that we are only as strong as our weakest member.”

“Thank you, Greg. That was very good.”

Sensei continued, “Trust is having faith in someone or something. It is having confidence
that the right thing will happen without trying to control it or make it happen. A trustworthy friend is dependable and responsible. It means that you can count on him to do what he says he will do. This is a crucial trait for a Black Belt Shoka Leader, because followers need to trust their leader.

“Trust is also like building a tower. It takes a lot of work stacking up the blocks to make
it tall, but take one away and it could come crashing down. You earn people’s trust over time but lose it in a flash.” Sensei paused to let his words sink in.

“And trust is the firm reliance on or belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person
or thing. Trust is also important in our daily lives. When you get sick, you can depend on your doctor to her best to make you well. Trust is what you feel when you tell a secret to your best friend and you know he will keep it a secret if you ask him to. Trust is a small word, which can make a big difference—whether or not you have a successful team or friendship. To fully understand trust, you must practice it every day in the dojo, at home, and in school.”

“Your Class Leader, Wendy, is now going to tell you story. It’s called ‘The Boy Who
Cried Wolf’ and is one of Aesop’s Fables.”

Wendy stood up and walked over to the front of the room. She stood proudly in front of
the class. She had known in advance that she was to do this, so she was well prepared to tell the story.

Wendy told the students about a shepherd boy who thought it would be funny to cry out
“wolf” and see what the townspeople would do. When the townspeople came rushing up to help him, he laughed at them. The townspeople didn’t like this at all. A few days later, the boy did the same thing, and when the townspeople came rushing up, he laughed at them again. Then about a week later, a wolf actually came and attacked his sheep. This time the boy cried wolf for real, but the townspeople ignored him, and the wolf killed his sheep. That night, when the boy didn’t come back, the townspeople went out looking for him and found the slaughtered sheep and the boy hiding in a tree. The townspeople asked him if he had learned the lesson of trust—that if he told the truth, people would trust him but, if he lied, they wouldn’t.

As soon as Wendy had finished, Sensei asked the teams to discuss what the story meant
to them. When Sensei asked for a volunteer from one of the teams to talk about what they had discussed, Tiger raised his hand and was called on.

“We said that trust is the strong belief in the integrity of a person or thing,” Tiger noted.
“It is the confidence you have in someone to fulfill a task or the faith that something will do what you need it to do.”

“That’s excellent, Tiger,” Sensei said. Tiger beamed with pride.

Sensei told Wendy to have the class spread out to begin training. She told the students to
do this, and made sure that they were evenly apart. Sensei began the class by having the teams do a combination that he had prepared. They did it first at slow speed to adjust their form. Then they did it at medium speed to find the proper timing and rhythm. Finally they did it at full speed to simulate actual combat.

After working on the combination for twenty minutes, Sensei had the teams work
independently on Heian Shodan, the first kata. Tiger was the leader of the Hornets, and Greg and Stacy were members. Tiger was happy for this opportunity, as he remembered that one of the requirements for the Assistant Class Leader rank is to teach a new student the kata, Heian Shodan. Stacy was new to Shotokan Karate Leadership Schools and didn’t really know the kata yet. Tiger knew it well and was confident that he could help his teammate improve. As they begin, he noticed that on the first movement, Stacy was stepping her right leg out to the right, instead of her left leg out to the left. Tiger pointed this out to her, and she told him someone else had said that the right leg moves first. He nodded, knowing that this could have happened. Stacy started to make the correction, but it took several repetitions before she got it right. Stacy was confident that Tiger would continue to help her get better. Greg was doing well, too, and Tiger complimented him on his stances, telling him that they were long, low, and strong—just the way they need to be. Tiger was happy to see his team improving. Sensei glanced over and noticed how well they were doing and that Tiger really cared about his team.

When kata practice ended, Wendy led the students through the conditioning exercises
that were designed to strengthen all the major muscle groups, and then she proceeded with the closing ceremony. Class ended with Tiger feeling really good about his progress.

On his way home, Tiger talked to his mom about what they did and how well his team
performed. He told her that he really enjoyed leading his team. His mom smiled inside, knowing her son would be a fine leader someday! Tiger was exhausted and ready for bed. He thought about the boy who cried wolf and then took the Book of the Empty Mind out from under his bed. It had been a long day, but Tiger turned the page, closed his eyes, and resumed his journey.


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.

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.