Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…
An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place
Charlie had recently passed his Assistant School Leader III exam and was beginning to learn about semi-free sparring. Tiger was helping him and explaining to him that he needed to show that he could catch his opponent in one step, block and counter in one breath, and
recognize and take advantage of openings. But Charlie wasn’t getting it, and he was becoming more and more frustrated with the lesson Tiger was teaching him.
“Charlie, you’re not doing this right. You’re chasing after me.”
It looked as though the more Tiger talked, the less Charlie understood.
Sensei saw what was happening and walked over to the two boys observing them as they
Charlie said, “I’m trying to do it, but it’s not working. When I attack I can’t get to my target before you have blocked and countered. I don’t think I’m ever going to get this!”
“Well it’s obvious that you haven’t practiced, and you just need to try harder,” said Tiger.
At this point, Sensei decided it was time to step in.
“Tiger,” he said, “an important Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait is Compassion. Do you know what that means?”
“Not really,” said Tiger.
“Well, compassion means to feel the pain of others and to be willing to work to alleviate
“Okay,” said Tiger.
Sensei looked at Tiger and saw it was clear that he did not quite understand, so he continued, “A Black Belt Shoka Leader must help those he leads learn to do what he needs them to do. A Black Belt Shoka Leader must be a teacher and an instructor. So to teach Charlie, you must be able to feel what he’s feeling. Charlie is new to semi-free sparring; he only recently was promoted to the Assistant School Leader III rank.
“The proper approach is to push your partner to achieve as much as he can, while
exercising control, awareness, and good judgment. You must feel at what level he is, and adapt your leadership style to help him become more confident and competent. You have to point out to him his mistakes, but you have to also show him the correct way to do it. If you focus only on the negative, you will get negative results.”
Sensei saw Tiger’s eyes begin to light up. Tiger said, “So what you’re saying is that a Black Belt Shoka Leader must feel compassion towards the people he leads and use that compassion to help them be the best they can be?”
Sensei nodded, “Yes, Tiger, and this does not just apply to semi-free sparring, but to all
interactions a leader will have with their followers. If a teacher does not have compassion for his students, he would not understand how to get them to give a one-hundred percent effort. Or, to look at it another way, if I do not show compassion to you in your journey, you will not show compassion to students who you are helping on their journey.”
Tiger was warming to this idea of compassion. “I think I’m starting to understand, Sensei.
Compassion isn’t just here at the dojo; it’s everywhere. It’s helping my sister when she falls and hurts herself, or offering to carry the groceries for Ms. Jenkins next door, or my mom helping me when I’m stuck on my school work.”
“That’s right, Tiger,” Sensei said. “Compassion isn’t weakness. It’s a strength that’s
about knowing how to be helpful, kind, and constructive.”
Charlie spoke next, “So, Sensei, does this mean that if I have compassion for my opponent it will give me an edge in sparring, because it would allow me to understand how he feels and use that to find an opening?”
“Yes, Charlie, that’s right. If you can feel what your opponent feels, you can anticipate his intentions and take advantage of them. This is the mental opening we talk about. Distraction, boredom, and feeling what our opponent feels are all opportunities to be exploited. The empty mind can receive and react as necessary, because it is not already committed.”
“Now let me watch the two of you do semi-free sparring,” Sensei said.
The boys bowed and began to spar.
Later that night, after finishing his homework and getting ready for bed, Tiger pulled out
the Book of the Empty Mind as he had done many times before and began to dream.
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 over 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.
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.
Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…
An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place
The reason became clear as to why Tiger and Blake had to stay on the path they were on.
There was an enormous river in front of them, blocking their path and extending as far as the eye could see in both directions. The water was running fast and deep. The boys knew that if they tried to swim across it, they would surely drown. But here was a bridge that spanned the water. They had done the right thing by staying on the path. This appeared to be the only way to leave the Plains of Endeavor and reach the Chasm of Cooperation, the next leg in their journey.
Tiger and Blake started crossing the bridge. When they were halfway across, they suddenly stopped. A section of the bridge was missing. One of the supporting beams had broken off, and the planks were missing. The remaining beam extended to the other side. Tiger and Blake looked down at the rushing water below and then looked at each other. They wonder whether they would be able to cross the remaining beam. But it was the only way to the other side.
Tiger thought back to the day when he first asked his parents if he could take karate. They wanted him to be more responsible. They said they needed him to do his chores and his homework, practice, and go to class without complaining. And Sensei had said that responsibility was “the ability to respond” or to act in the way the situation required. Tiger had promised his parents that he would be responsible. So he asked himself now how best to respond. What skills did this situation require?
He knew the answer to his own question: balance.
Tiger remembered Sensei telling the class that karate required great balance and control. He had said that balance was a key ingredient for any endeavor to succeed, and that great balance was the balance of mind, body, and spirit.
Sensei said, “To balance your mind requires you to empty it of all negative thoughts and emotions and see clearly what you want to do and how you are going to do it.”
“To balance your body requires you to take all the necessary steps that are needed to prepare your body for the endeavor.”
“And to balance your spirit,” Sensei had said, “it is necessary to get your emotions in balance and to reaffirm your commitment to carry out your plan.”
While looking down at the rushing water far below, Tiger again heard in his head the voice of the Old Man who had given him the Book of the Empty Mind. He still didn’t know who this old man was, but he knew that what he said was important. “Empty your mind of all
negative thoughts and emotions,” the voice said to him now. “See only what you want to have happen. Prepare yourself and bolster your spirit.”
Tiger turned and said to Blake, “I know what we have to do. In our minds, we must block out the river and what could happen if we fell in. The log is what’s important, not what could happen. We have walked on many logs that were on the ground and never fallen off. This log is just another log on the ground to walk across. Blake, do you know the story of the Boastful Champion?”
Blake said he hadn’t.
Tiger said, “There was a young, boastful archer who could not calm his mind. He challenged an old master to an archery contest and made two incredible shots. The old master then brought him up to a mountaintop, walked out onto a shaky log over a deep canyon, and made a clean shot by hitting a tree on the other side of the ravine. The young man, who thought he was the better archer, couldn’t calm himself enough to do the same. We have to calm our minds and be at peace inside. Then we will have the balance we need to cross.”
“Ok,” Blake agreed. “What’s your plan, Tiger?”
Tiger then described how he would go first, because he had better balance. But just in case, the rope would be tied to Tiger’s waist and anchored to the bridge. If he fell, the two of them could work together to get Tiger back up. Blake was strong and could hoist Tiger up, and Tiger could climb the rope and pull himself back up. He’d done it many times in the past when climbing into his cousin’s tree house. Then when Tiger got across the bridge, he would anchor the rope and Blake would cross.
Tiger proceeded carefully, placing one foot in front of the other. He heard the rushing water below but was not distracted by it. As he reached the middle of the log, a gust of wind picked up. He clenched the log with his feet and bent his knees and just barely avoided being tossed into the rushing water far below. He continued on, and when he was a few feet from the other side, he saw that the log was wet and mossy. Just as he noticed this, his foot slipped, and he fell down into the river below.
Now came the moment of truth: Would the rope hold? It did! Tiger’s fall was stopped.
He swung from the end of the rope about fifteen feet under the bridge. Both boys went into
action. Blake lay on his stomach and began to pull Tiger up. Meanwhile, Tiger climbed up the rope using his hands and feet. It was not easy, but together they made progress. Tiger got close enough to grab the bridge post and, with Blake’s help, pulled himself back onto the bridge.
They both rested for another try. When it was time to start again, Tiger decided that the safer way was to shimmy across the log rather than walk.
Tiger lowered himself down onto the beam and slowly inched his way along. In a few minutes he got across the broken part of the bridge and stood up. He then found a good place to anchor the rope and tied it off. Now it was Blake’s turn. He looked scared. Tiger knew that he was responsible for his friend. He brought him along on this journey and didn’t want anything bad to happen to him.
“I’ll catch you, Blake, if you fall—just like you caught me.”
Blake took his first step onto the log and started to lose his balance. He caught himself and stepped back onto the safe part of the bridge. He looked at Tiger.
“Blake, why don’t you shimmy across like I just did?” Tiger suggested.
Blake didn’t want to do this, because he thought it was the coward’s way out. Tiger knew his friend well and figured that this was what he was thinking.
“Blake, be humble. Admit that you have weaknesses. I’m not going to think any less of you.”
Blake looked over at Tiger. He realized that his friend was right, that he could trust him with his weaknesses. He also knew that this was an important part of teamwork—to be honest with each other about what you can and cannot do. Only then could the team function well. Without saying a word, Blake sat down on the log and easily shimmied his way across.
When he got to the other side, he pulled himself off the log, smiled, and said, “That was easy.”
They high-fived each other and whooped with joy.
They continued across the remaining portion of the bridge. It was a lot longer than it appeared, but they finally approached the far bank of the river where the bridge came to an end.
Looking ahead they saw that the trail entered a large, deep, U-shaped valley that traveled up and away from the river.
Tiger felt good. He had a better understanding of what it meant to be responsible. He knew that Blake had depended on him to get across the bridge, and he had depended on Blake.
He took out the map and saw the word RESPONSIBILITY with the image of a belt tied in a square knot. He had expected to see something. He just didn’t know what. Taking care of your uniform and making sure that your belt was tied correctly was one of the first
responsibilities of a Black Belt Shoka Leader.
It started to get dark. The two boys were exhausted, but they found a good spot to camp, set up their tent, and crawled inside. They ate a little of what was left of their food and fell asleep happy that they were another day closer to their goal.
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.