TGJ: Strength of Mind in Face of Danger by Marty Callahan

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

By practicing every day at home, going to class two or three days a week, paying close
attention, and asking questions of his leaders, over the course of three months Tiger had learned the basics of punching, kicking, blocking, and striking. He had also begun to develop Courage, the first of the twelve Black Belt Shoka Leadership Traits. Technically he had become proficient at Heian Shodan, the first kata. Tiger had learned that katas were series of techniques performed against imaginary opponents. And he learned that heian meant peace, and shodan meant first step. He was beginning to see that the real meaning of karate was to be a warrior for peace.

Tiger learned much in the first three months and had completed all but one of the
requirements to be an Assistant Team Leader, a yellow belt. He had found the list of
requirements in his copy of the Shoka Leader Handbook, as well as the requirements for all of the ranks up to School Leader or Black Belt Shoka Leader. In a separate handbook called
Responsibilities of a Shoka Leader, he found the duties and assignments that were given to an Assistant Team Leader and all the other leaders in the school. The last step in meeting the requirements for the Assistant Team Leader rank was to show the School Board of Review, a group of the more advanced leaders in the school, that he could perform the basics, kata, and sparring required for this rank.

On the big day, Tiger arrived at the dojo and found many of his classmates, who were
also ready to move up in rank, warming up for their exams. There was excitement in the air. The students were jazzed about performing. When the exam began, the students went up in small groups according to their rank. Because they were well prepared, supportive of each other, well-mannered, and confident, they all performed very well.

A few days later the results were announced: Tiger had earned his Assistant Team Leader
rank. It was then time for Tiger and his parents to meet with Sensei to review what he had
accomplished, receive his new assignment, and make plans for his advancement to the next rank of Team Leader.

On the day the advancements and assignments were given, Tiger and all of his
schoolmates who had passed their tests were lined up in their clean and properly worn uniforms. When his name was called, Tiger stepped forward quickly and came to the center of the mat.

Sensei asked, “Are you prepared to become an Assistant Team Leader and take on the
duties and responsibilities that go with this rank?”

“Yes!” Tiger answered without hesitation.

Sensei announced to all present that Tiger’s new assignment was to be the Assistant
Team Leader for the Hornets. Jacqui, the previous Assistant Team Leader, had advanced to
become the Team Leader of the Hornets. While Jerry, the previous Team Leader, was now an Assistant Class Leader and would be assigned a class to help lead.

Tiger came forward and stopped; he bowed to Sensei. Sensei bowed back and presented
Tiger with his belt and certificate. Tiger’s teammates, classmates, schoolmates, his mom and dad, and all the other guests in attendance clapped and cheered.

He was on his way.


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.