TGJ: Do What’s Right by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Tiger was in his room looking through his list of requirements for his next promotion—
Assistant School Leader III, which comes before II and I. He was excited to find out what new challenges awaited him. As he looked over the list, he saw that he had to actively serve as a Senior Class Leader for two months. He knew that Class Leaders had specific duties to fulfill once they earned that rank, and he made a mental note to review them.

The second item on the list of requirements was to show his Assistant School Leader that
he understood the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait of Justice by settling a disagreement
between two or more students. Tiger made a mental note to take this on as his first leadership task at his new rank.

Not long afterwards, Sensei was discussing disagreements in class. Tiger thought that this
was a great opportunity to gain some insight on how to settle a disagreement. He raised his hand to ask a question: “Sensei, if two people have different ideas about what is right, how am I to determine who is correct?”

Sensei said, “That’s a good question, Tiger. In any situation, you must use your training and your resources. For instance, if you and Kevin are working on Tekki Shodan, and you tell Kevin that he is doing a technique incorrectly and he doesn’t agree, there are several ways to settle the disagreement. You can discuss it and possibly come to an agreement about how the technique should be done. That would be called using your training. You could check your handbook to find the answer. That would be using a resource. Or you can ask me and I can explain, that’s also using a resource.”

Tiger thought about this answer, and it seemed to him that it was a good solution for a lot
of disagreements that might arise, when he thought his sister had done something wrong, he could talk to his Mom or Dad. When he had a disagreement with a classmate at school, he could talk to his teacher. But then he thought about what happened when disagreements were really big. He raised his hand again.

Sensei looked at Tiger and nodded.

“Sensei, what about when people get in a fight or when countries go to war?”

Sensei looked at the students for several moments. “This question of fighting and war is a
very serious question and has been with mankind for a long, long time. It is unfortunate, but many people still think that it’s okay to attack other people when they disagree with them. It is much better to learn how to talk respectfully to other people when you disagree with them. This way we can settle our differences peacefully without fighting or resorting to war.”

Sensei then asked, “Who has heard of justice?” Several students raised their hands again.

Sensei nodded to Kevin, who said through a giggle, “There’s the Hall of Justice for Super

Sensei smiled and said, “How about a serious answer?”

Tiger raised his hand and Sensei nodded. “I’ve heard about the Hall of Justice, where they take people who commit crimes,” Tiger said.

“Good,” said Sensei. “Let me give you a definition. Justice is fairness; it is doing what is
right in the right way. Justice is about ending conflict and mediating disputes, or finding the middle ground.”

Stacy raised her hand and Sensei nodded. “So it seems like settling a disagreement is about finding justice or fairness?” she asked.

“Yes. Or sometimes it is as simple as finding a solution that both parties can agree to, even if it is not what they wanted,” Sensei said.

“Well, this has been an important discussion, but it’s time to end the class.”

Tiger stood up and walked to the first position in the line and took his place. He was the
highest-ranking student in class, which meant that he would lead the class in the meditation and the bow-out ceremony. All of the other students in Tiger’s class and the following class lined up according to rank.

Sensei kneeled in seiza.

Tiger gave the command “seiza!” and the class sat down in the sitting/kneeling position.

Then with the command “mokuso!” the class members cleared their minds and emptied
them of all thought.

Tiger then announced, “mokuso yamae” and the class stopped meditating.

Next was the Dojo Creed. Tiger gave the commands and the rest of the class repeated them after him.

Seek perfection of character!

Be faithful.


Respect others.

Refrain from violent behavior.

“Shomen ni rei!” They all bowed to the front honoring the masters who had gone before them and done so much to prepare the ground for their training.

Sensei turned to face the class.

“Sensei ni rei!” The class bowed to Sensei.

Sensei looked at the students, stood up and signaled to them to stand. The students rose,
and bowed again. Then Sensei told them that they were free to go. With that the students bowed again and left the training floor. Tiger thought to himself, that went pretty well. I remembered all of the commands and this is one of the requirements for my next test.

As Tiger walked over to where he had placed his gear bag, he was still thinking about
disagreements and justice. Tiger thought about the Dojo Creed “refrain from violent behavior,” and how that had a lot do with stopping conflict and settling disputes. He felt that he had a better understanding of how to settle a disagreement now than he had before the class had started. The words of the Dojo Creed were once again revealing new insights and lessons to him. There must be truth to what Sensei had once said: “The Dojo Creed, like kata, kihon, and kumite, has a unique ability to reveal truths, teach lessons, and expand your understanding of what you are capable of and how you can become a Black Belt Shoka Leader.”

Tiger had had a busy day. First he had gone to school, then to the dojo to train, next home
for dinner, and finally he had done his homework. He sat down in a comfortable chair and
looked forward to continuing his great journey. Tonight was different, though. He felt a strange sense of foreboding. He opened the Book of the Empty Mind 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 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: 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: A Scary Descent by Marty J. Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

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

Tiger and Blake trudged on and on. They were getting very tired, as they had been
walking for many days. The road started to climb, and in front of them large, snow-capped peaks reached for the sky. They stopped to eat and look at the map. Blake told Tiger, “Those mountains are the Peaks of Trust. It looks like we have to go right through them to get to the Plains of Endeavor.”

Tiger looked up at the mountain peaks and thought about how difficult and dangerous
this journey was becoming. He knew he was tired, but he also knew that he must keep his mind on the goal. Not only will this help him, but it will also help Blake. Tiger felt responsible for Blake, and he didn’t want anything bad to happen to his friend and companion.

Tiger turned to Blake and said, “This will be hard, but we have everything we will need,
and if we work as a team and trust each other—we’ll make it!”

Feeling inspired, they finished eating, threw on their backpacks, and started up the steep
road. Before long it turned into a rocky trail. They continued on as the trail twisted and turned its way up to a barren ridge. They followed the ridge for about a mile, when they encountered snow. The wind began to blow hard and the going got treacherous as the snow became icy and slippery.

Blake and Tiger pulled the collars of their coats tighter in an effort to stay warm. Tiger heard a loud, rumbling sound and turned to Blake, who clearly heard it, too. Puzzled, they looked around but could not find the source of the noise. They kept on. When they reached the summit, they breathed deeply and began their descent down the opposite side. The snow began to disappear, and their heart rates slowed.

Blake suddenly stopped. In front of him the trail disappeared. It looked as though a recent
landslide had destroyed it. He said, “Tiger, this must have been the rumbling noise we heard.” Just then a large rock broke free from a ledge above them. It hit the trail about fifty feet in front of them and then went crashing down to the bottom of the cliff far below.

Tiger said, “Whoa! It looks like the landslide is not over.” They looked across the debris
left by the slide, which stretched out for several hundred feet. The trail then picked up on the other side, and it wound down to a small valley below them. But they couldn’t take a chance staying on the trail knowing that more rocks could come plunging down at any moment. They backed off and looked over the side of the trail down a drop of about a hundred feet. They seemed to have no choice. They couldn’t go forward across the slide, and they couldn’t go back without making a long detour.

Blake inspected the cliff more closely and got an idea. He pulled out a rope from his pack
and told Tiger his plan. “I can use this rope to lower myself down. My father showed me how to do it. We practiced a lot and I got pretty good at it. Once I’m down the cliff, you can tie one end of the rope around your waist, and I can slowly lower you to the bottom. When you’re down I can pull the rope from around the tree and get it down.”

Tiger looked at Blake and then stared at the cliff. He was scared and not sure of the plan.
Blake said, “Tiger. I know how to do this. My father taught me well. I won’t let anything happen to you. I can show you what you have to do and then talk you through it when I’m down below. It’s easier than going up!” he joked.

Tiger inhaled deeply and looked at his friend. “Okay, Blake. I trust you. You’re my friend, and I know you want to help.”

Blake took a short piece of rope, tied it around Tiger’s waist into a sitting harness, and
showed him how to tie the end of the long rope to it. Blake threw one end of the rope over the cliff, walked around a nearby pine tree, and then threw the other end down. He looked again at Tiger and asked him if he had any questions. Tiger shook his head no.

Blake made his own harness and then grabbed hold of the rope and prepared to go over
the side. He put both feet on the edge, leaned back, and began rappelling down the cliff step by step, supported by the rope. After a couple of minutes, Blake reached the bottom and yelled up, “Okay Tiger, it’s your turn!”

Tiger yelled down to Blake, “I’m ready! Take up the slack!” Blake took up the slack and
signaled that he was prepared.

Tiger walked towards the ledge and began to feel nervous. He could see Blake far below,
and he was reminded of how confident Blake was about descending the cliff, and how patient he was with him in describing what to do. He trusted Blake. Tiger knew that he was afraid, but he remembered Sensei explaining how an empty mind is needed in life-threatening situations. Tiger took a deep breath and emptied his mind. He noticed a large black bird drifting on the air currents far above. He heard the water from a small stream trickling. He focused on the here and now. Obstacles are things a person sees, when he takes his eyes off his goal, thought Tiger. Wow, where did that thought come from he wondered.

Tiger’s heart started to calm, and his breathing slowed. He saw only the rope and the
cliff. His fear left him, and he told Blake that he was coming down. He stepped over the ledge, feeling the tension of the rope around his waist. He kept his feet in front of him, putting one foot below the other, using them to keep his balance as he slowly lowered himself down the rock wall. Before he knew it, Tiger found himself standing at the bottom next to Blake. And now that he was down, he felt great.

Blake congratulated him on keeping his cool, and Tiger thanked Blake for his help in
getting down. Blake untied Tiger and then grabbed one end of the rope and pulled it down from around the tree. They packed up the rope, turned around, and saw the trail pick up a few yards away. As they started hiking again, Tiger realized that the trust he had in Blake had grown enormously.

“Blake, you taught me what it means to trust. I put my life in your hands and you came
through for me. If you had messed up, I could have been seriously hurt or even died. From now on if anyone asks, I’ll tell them that you’re someone they can trust with their life.”

Blake stopped and looked straight at Tiger. He held his gaze for a long moment and then
said simply, “Thanks, Tiger. I feel the same way about you.”

As they started off, the trail wound around and down the mountain. After a couple of
hours, it entered a pretty green meadow with a small creek flowing through. They saw a nice
campsite beside the creek and decided to rest there for the night. After setting up camp and
eating a humble dinner, Tiger remembered the map. When he pulled it out, he saw that the word TRUST had appeared. Alongside it was an image of two people sparring; both of the
combatants’ fists stopped short of the other person’s throat without making contact.

Tiger’s mother knocked on his door and said, “It’s time for lights out!” As she came into
his room and walked over to his bed, Tiger yawned and closed the Book of the Empty Mind. His mom tucked him under the covers and kissed him goodnight. Tiger smiled and said, “I love you.”