TGJ: Never Give Up by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Change the World

The next day before class started, Tiger opened up his Shoka Leader Handbook to review
the requirements for Class Leader. He did not have to do this, but he enjoyed focusing on his future challenges and goals. Some of what he read was already familiar to him.

Tiger knew that he was responsible for wearing his Black Belt Shoka Leader Uniform
clean and properly tied. He already did so, but he also knew that sometimes his uniform got dirty without him even realizing it, so he’d have to inspect it carefully. What he didn’t know until recently was that he needed to wear the complete uniform in public. He had developed the habit of taking his belt off and throwing it over his shoulder and walking around like that. This was too casual, he was told by one of the Assistant School Leaders. If he needed to react quickly, his belt and the flaps of his uniform could get in his way. He would have to fix this.

Tiger also now understood that rules were created to keep people safe. He’d heard how a
few years ago a grandmother had tripped over someone’s shoes that were left in the walkway and had nearly gotten hurt. After that, the rule was established that all students had to line their shoes up against the wall when they came in.

Tiger was starting to understand that he had both a quiet voice and a powerful voice, and
that in giving the class commands he would need to use his powerful voice. Sensei also talked about the difference between a loud voice and a powerful voice. He’d said that a loud voice was annoying; then he demonstrated a loud voice and, boy, was he right. Everyone in the school either groaned or cringed when he did it.

Tiger had also learned the lesson of good manners, and he wished that the kids in his
school would learn some, too. It seemed that every day kids were acting rude and out of control. He wondered why the principal and teachers allowed this. But he’d also heard that there were rules that the teachers had to follow. He didn’t understand this.

Tiger read that he would have to explain to his parents the meaning of confidence and do
three things he couldn’t do before. He now knew that confidence was a belief that people had in themselves, which allowed them to succeed without fear. He’d seen lots of kids at school who didn’t have the confidence to raise their hands and speak up, and he wondered just what it was that they were afraid of. He wanted to understand and help them.

Tiger also wanted to find out more about the Shoka Leadership Structure. He was going
to ask his Assistant School Leader to explain more of this to him. He was on the path to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader and he wanted to learn more about how it worked. He’d read that it was time for him to set a target date for becoming a Black Belt Shoka Leader. This would be exciting, because it would give him a concrete goal to work towards.

Tiger had been a Team Leader for about two months and had been learning Heian
Sandan, but it hadn’t been going so well. One day he was having a lot of difficulty with it and
was incredibly frustrated by his inability to improve. He felt like a failure. Sensei saw Tiger
looking dejected and walked over to him and asked him what was wrong.

“I just can’t do my kata! I practice it over and over, but I still can’t do it right! I’ll never
be any good!” said Tiger.

This wasn’t like Tiger to give up so easily. Sensei said gently, “The journey to become a
Black Belt Shoka Leader is not easy, Tiger. It is long and hard. That is why Shotokan Karate
Leadership Schools only select students who have what it takes: intelligence, imagination, and spirit. And you have what it takes, Tiger, or we would not have accepted you as a student.”

Sensei called out to the class. “Come here and sit down. There is something important
that we need to talk about. Tiger is feeling frustrated with his kata. He’s starting to think that he’s never going to get it right. We need to talk about this because it’s common for a student to feel this way.

“Try this, everyone. Sit in seiza and clear your mind.”

The students gathered and sat down in seiza. Some of them were already quite capable of
quickly emptying the mind, but others needed more time. Eventually they all quieted down.

“Now ask yourself ‘What is . . .’ and complete the question with whatever you want to
know or whatever is frustrating you. In Tiger’s case he would ask himself, ‘What is Heian
Sandan?’ Then wait for an answer. The universe will send it to you. It might come instantly or it might come over time. You might have to repeat the question many times, but eventually the answer will come.”

“Wendy, what question would you like to ask the universe?”

“I would like to know what one-step sparring is all about,” Wendy replied.

“Great, then your question is ‘what is one-step sparring?’” Sensei told her.

“Who else has a question?”

Nolan raised his hand.


“I want to know what a side thrust kick is. I have to do that kick for my Assistant Class
Leader rank,” said Nolan.

“Then that’s your question.”

“Does everyone get the idea?”

“Osu!” responded the students in unison.


The students spent a few minutes doing this and then continued practicing.

About ten days later, Sensei saw Tiger working on Heian Sandan and knew that his
question had been answered, because the way Tiger was doing his kata was impressive. He saw Wendy doing one-step sparring and Nolan doing yoko kekomi geri—side-thrust kick—and he knew that they, too, had had their questions answered.

Upon seeing this, Sensei gathered the class and said “A wise man once stated: ‘Obstacles
are things a person sees, when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

Upon hearing this familiar thought, Tiger perked up. Wow, he thought, that is amazing.

Sensei went on, “I hope that the problems you faced recently have taught you that Black
Belt Shoka Leaders know they will encounter difficulties along the way, but they keep their
attention on their goals. They don’t let the difficulties they encounter deter them from finishing what they start. Another wise person said that the surest way not to fail is to be determined to succeed.”

Nolan raised his hand. After Sensei called on him Nolan asked, “Is this what it means to

“Yes, Nolan, endeavor means to ‘never give up.’”

Sensei looked around and saw that Tiger had something on his mind.

“What is it, Tiger?”

“I think endeavor means to keep trying, because each time you perform the kata, you
learn something new, even though you may not think so. We can learn from the mistakes we
make. Each time we do it, we get better and better! Each time we do it, we get closer to our

Sensei looked over at Tiger and smiled. “That’s right, Tiger.”

On his way out of the dojo, Tiger was given a list of quotes about the importance of
endeavor. He saw that all kinds of people over the years have talked about the need to endeavor. It seemed to Tiger that all of the quotes were saying in different ways that to endeavor is to have the determination to complete a task in the face of overwhelming adversity. It is the willingness to continue on despite enormous obstacles.

*Albert Einstein, the famous scientist, was one of the people who were quoted on the list.
He said: “Learn by making mistakes over and over until you get it right. Anyone who has
never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

* Likewise the Buddha said: “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to
truth: not going all the way, and not starting.”

*Tiger also learned that Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth President of the United
States, had said: “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does

*Charles R. Swindoll, the author, educator and preacher, said: “We are all faced with a
series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

*The famous swordsman, Tsukahara Bokuden, who lived from 1490 to 1571, said: “Fall
seven times, get up eight times.”

*Winston Churchill (1874 to 1965), a British Prime Minister known for leadership during
World War II, said: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small,
large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

When he arrived home that evening, Tiger did his homework, took out the trash, and helped
his mom get the table ready for dinner. Afterwards he did the dishes and got ready for bed. He was still excited about the day’s training when he pulled out the Book of the Empty Mind and started to imagine . . .

TGJ: Respect is Earned by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Tiger now wore a yellow belt and served his team members as an Assistant Team Leader.
He was working hard in class, and he was happy to have karate in his life. It felt good to be
getting better at punching, kicking, blocking, and striking. All parts of his life seemed to be
running more smoothly now that he was training and had the responsibility of making time for classes and for practicing at home. It surprised him to realize that he was buckling down to his homework and getting it done faster. His mother told him one day, “Son, you are getting better at a lot of things since you made the decision to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader. You’re better at taking care of your clothes, better at cleaning your room, better at getting your homework done, and you’re better at handling the problems your little sister makes for you! I’m proud of you.”

Tiger loved going to the dojo and breaking a sweat as he trained and practiced his new kata, Heian Nidan. But there was one thing he didn’t quite understand.

“Sensei,” he said after class one day, “Why do we do so much bowing?”

Sensei smiled and nodded. “We do bow a lot—for Americans,” he agreed. Sensei told
Tiger that in Japan, where the art of karate came into its own, a person bows to show his or her respect for another person or for an honored place, such as a temple.

“We bow when we walk into the dojo, because we appreciate this place and what happens here,” Sensei said. “When you bow at the door, and before stepping onto the mat, you
show that you respect the art of karate and also your teachers and the masters who passed down this tradition for thousands of years.”

Then Sensei asked Tiger, “Do you respect your home, and your school?”

“Yes, Sensei, very much,” Tiger replied.

“Do you bow before walking into your house or your classroom?” Sensei asked.

The question made Tiger laugh, “Of course not, Sensei.”

Sensei said, “But don’t you respect your home as the place where you find shelter and
love and food and a safety? And your school, for all the learning you get and the friendships you find there?”

“Yes, Sensei,” Tiger replied. “I respect those places, but I don’t bow. In America we express it differently. We wipe our feet, remove our hats and shoes, and don’t slam doors.”

Sensei nodded. “That is true. But to show your respect to your home, school, and other
important places in your life, you can pause before entering and leaving, and be aware of the
importance of these places in your life. You can do the same when you meet another person. You can make a mental bow.”

Tiger smiled. He liked the idea of making an imaginary bow to all of the people and places he honored in his life.

Sensei continued, “When we come into the dojo to practice the art of karate out of
Courtesy, we bow to show our respect. We are grateful to every person who shares this journey with us, so we bow also to our teachers and fellow students. And when we spar with another student and pretend he is an opponent, we are careful never to take our eyes off of him or her, because in a situation of danger out in the world, we want to respect the person who is posing a threat but also watch him carefully so he cannot catch us off guard.”

“Thank you, Sensei,” said Tiger with a bow. It felt good to show respect in this way.

“You’re welcome, Tiger,” Sensei said.

Tiger knew he was fortunate to have a wise man as his teacher. Tiger enjoyed for the first
time in his life being both a student and a teacher. He liked to welcome new students in their white belts and to help them learn the ways of the dojo and the first techniques of karate. And in every class, he learned something from his Class Leader and from watching and speaking to everyone in the school, even those who had less experience.

At the beginning of class one day, when a new student began doing the warm-up exercises, her belt fell to the ground. She had not tied it correctly. Tiger believed he was the only other student who noticed. What should he do?

He sensed that the other student needed help with her belt, so he stopped his warm-up
exercises, bowed to his Class Leader, stepped over to the new student, and asked if he could
show her how to tie her belt. She smiled in gratitude for his help. With her white belt properly tied, both resumed their warm-up exercises.

After the class, Sensei approached Tiger to talk to him about what he had done for the
new student. “To step forward to help another is a sign of leadership,” Sensei said. He told Tiger he’d also noticed Tiger was showing other signs of becoming a leader. Tiger had begun to ask questions at the proper times during class, and he was resisting the temptation to stand and talk with other students when they should be practicing.

“It’s clear to me you are making time to practice your techniques and katas at home, and
that is another sign of leadership,” Sensei said. “Also, one day I noticed that two younger
students were arguing over whose turn it was to run and jump over the stack of kicking pads, and you stepped up to help them resolve the disagreement. This is another sign that you are becoming a leader.”

Sensei looked Tiger in the eyes and then continued, “Even the greatest Indian chief began
as a child eager to learn from others about what it means to lead and be a force for good in the world. Leadership is important because a tribe or a community or a nation cannot thrive and live in peace if everyone is a follower, and no one will take action when things are going wrong. It takes courage to step forward and point out that a problem exists and then work with other likeminded people to solve that problem.

“It is our nature to complain when we are experiencing something unpleasant. This is one
way to point out to others that a problem exists. The baby cries to get his mother’s attention to the fact that his diapers are wet or he is hungry. If the mother can’t hear the baby or doesn’t respond, the baby cries louder. Once the baby gets the mother’s attention, the mother goes about figuring out what the baby needs.”

“Life works the same way. When a problem exists in the world, someone has to speak up
to attract attention to the fact that the problem exists. Then, like the mother who must figure out what the baby needs, someone or some group of people must figure out what solution is needed.”

Sensei paused and looked at Tiger to see if he was following his comments. Tiger was all
ears and felt that Sensei was telling him things that weren’t readily apparent but made a lot of sense.

“Now this is a simplification of a complex problem, but it gives us a basis for understanding,” Sensei went on to say. “In life many different people are involved, but until a leader comes forward and moves those involved to find a solution, the problem will not go away; it will become worse.”

“In solving bigger problems there can be many competing interests. An extraordinary
leader is one who can bring competing interests together and work with them to arrive at a
solution that everyone can live with.”

“There is an old Chinese proverb that states: if neither party likes the settlement, then it is
probably a good solution.”

Tiger thanked Sensei. He felt that he now knew what it meant to be an extraordinary
leader, and he wanted this for himself. He knew that a time would come when he could use these skills to serve the world.

One day soon after, things weren’t going well in class. After practicing basics and three-step sparring, Sensei asked Wendy, the Class Leader, to oversee three teams as they practiced
kata. But three students were standing and talking about something that had nothing to do with karate.

“Students!” Wendy said. “Can you tell me why you aren’t you practicing your kata?”

One student answered, “I’m tired because I stayed up late last night.”

The second one said, “I wanted to tell these guys about the movie I saw.”

And the third one explained, “I don’t know what to do.”

Wendy turned to Tiger, who’d been practicing his kata. “Tiger,” she said, “can you
suggest to these students what they can do help themselves become better at following

Tiger thought for a moment about what he’d learned about how to do well in karate and
in life. Then he spoke to the three students. “First,” he said, “You’ve got to remember how
important good manners are. Would you agree that it is not good manners to be talking while others are trying to concentrate on their kata?”

“Yes,” the students answered in unison.

One added, “When I practice my kata in class, I wouldn’t want anyone to do what we
were doing.”

Wendy smiled and continued. “Courtesy is one of the best tools a person has for
becoming successful and happy. Courtesy is what helps us to stay on the path and to do what we know we need to do. ”

She added, “Our class runs only about an hour. We need to put that time to good use and
not waste other students’ time by talking about movies. Would you agree?” All three students nodded. “Courtesy also gives us the spirit to keep doing what we need to do when others are giving into the urge to talk or goof off. Courtesy is remembering what’s important and telling ourselves ‘No’ when we’re tempted to swerve off the path of doing what we know is the right thing to do.”

“You’re right,” said one of the students.

Wendy looked into the eyes of the student who had quit practicing because she couldn’t
get the kata right. “Part of courtesy is controlling our emotions, and this isn’t easy,” Wendy said. “We’re all human, and sometimes we’re angry or sad or discouraged. But we have to keep on, don’t we? Just think of all the emotions the President must feel as he deals with so many problems, but if he’s not good at controlling emotions he can’t lead the country. We can’t ignore our emotions, but we also can’t let them control us. If your feelings are bothering you or making you want to quit try changing how you’re doing what you’re doing, but don’t quit.”

“Thank you,” the three students said one after the other. Tiger realized that this small
group of students had just been discussing some very important lessons on how to treat other people. He was reminded of what Sensei had said before, that good manners make friends and bad manners create enemies.

“Well, let’s get back to practicing kata,” Wendy said.

The students resumed their training, this time with more focus and concentration.

Tiger had been an Assistant Team Leader for about two months and wanted to advance to
the rank of Team Leader. He had looked at the list of requirements at the back of his copy of the Shoka Leader Handbook and had fulfilled them all except the last two: He had to test in front of the School Board of Review and schedule a time for him and his parents to meet with Sensei. Tiger had to get through the test first and then the meeting with Sensei would be to review his progress, decide on his new assignment, and set his next goal.

On exam day, Tiger’s chance to show the members of the School Board of Review what
he could do, Tiger arrived at the school about an hour ahead of time so that he would feel calm and prepared. When the exam began and his name was called, he rose quickly from seiza, and with a deep breath cleared his mind. Before he knew it, the test was over. He’d done well.

When Tiger got home, he pulled out the Book of the Empty Mind from under his bed and
turned to the next chapter. He laid back, closed his eyes, and in his imagination he continued on his journey to Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds.


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.



Reiner’s Merit Challenge: 100 Socks

Each instructional period, our students are challenged to do something bigger than themselves and Reiner knocked it out of the park!  We’re thankful to see such young enthusiasm in our students to want to make this world a better place.  See below for what Reiner did for the homeless in our community!

100 Socks

Describe why you chose this challenge:

“My teacher’s community project for October is “Socktober”: which is donating socks to the homeless. I wanted to raise money to help.”

How much time and effort did you put in to accomplishing this challenge?

I started in May by planting pumpkin seeds. I picked out Halloween fabric for face masks.

What were you hoping to accomplish with this challenge?

To raise money to 100 new pairs of socks. I did this by having a pumpkin patch sale in my driveway.

What did you find most interesting about the subject you chose?

Almost 600,000 people are homeless in the USA. Socks are needed.

What was most difficult in doing this challenge?

To manage the sale and not play with my friends that came to the sale.

Summarize what you did to complete this challenge:

I raised enough money from the sale to buy 100 pairs of socks for the homeless.

Thanks, Reiner, for being a good example to us all!

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.