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.